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Sunday, September 25, 2022

India army officer killed for Rs 20 lakh reward: Kashmir police on ‘cold blooded’ killing of 3 Rajouri youth

The Indian Army Captain, who was involved in the fake encounter in Shopian in July last year in which three youths were killed, had hatched a conspiracy along with two civilians with the motive for ‘grabbing’ a reward money of Rs 20 lakh and also fired at the victims even before his men could lay a cordon of the area, according to a Kashmir police charge sheet.

Captain Bhoopinder Singh is currently in the custody of the Army, with informed sources telling Press Trust of India saying he may face Court Martial proceedings.

The verdicts of India’s army courts are however never made public. 

On July 18, 2020 an encounter at Amshipura in the Southern district in which three youths of Rajouri district — Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohammed Ibrar – were killed and branded as “terrorists”.

The charge sheet submitted before the chief judicial magistrate also details the role of the two civilians – Tabish Nazir and Bilal Ahmed Lone – in the case.

Lone has since turned an approver and recorded his confession statement before a magistrate.

After reports emerged on social media that the three youths were not associated with pro-freedom insurgents, the Indian army had ordered a Court of Inquiry which completed its probe earlier in September. 

It had found “prima facie” evidence that the troops had “exceeded” the powers granted under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Under the law, the Indian army has been operating in disputed Indian-administered Kashmir with impunity. 

After dubbing them as militants, the Indian authorities had buried them covertly in Northern Baramulla district. 

Following this, the Army had initiated disciplinary proceedings. The identities of the three slain youth were confirmed through a DNA test and the bodies were handed over to their families in Baramulla in October.

Officials in know of the development said the Captain may face a Court Martial proceeding for violating the powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 and for not following the dos and don’ts of the Chief of Army Staff as approved by the Supreme Court.

The charge sheet submitted by the Special Investigation Team of Kashmir Police has listed 75 witnesses in support of its findings and has also provided technical evidence including call data records of the accused persons involved in the case.

The charge sheet also has the statements of four army personnel – Subedar Garu Ram, Lance Naik Ravi Kumar, Sepoys Ashwini Kumar and Yougesh – who were part of Capt Singh’s team at the time of the incident.

They said that all of them along with the two civilians had left the Army camp together as there were reliable inputs that a contact with militants was possible, according to the charge sheet.

On reaching the spot, all the four were asked to cordon off from different directions. 

“as they were approaching the spot on foot after disembarking from the vehicle they heard a few bursts of live ammunition even before they had laid the cordon,” said the charge sheet, quoting the statements of the four Indian army soldiers.

Later Capt. Singh told them that he had to fire as the hiding insurgents were trying to escape.

“By staging the encounter,” the charge sheet said, Capt. Singh and two other civilians also “purposefully destroyed evidence of real crime that they have committed and also have been purposefully projecting false information as part of a criminal conspiracy hatched between them with motive to grab prize money of Rs 20 lakh”.

It said the accused captain of 62 Rashtriya Rifles “furnished false information to mislead the senior officer and for getting” an FIR lodged to “tailor fit his motive for grabbing prize money in furtherance of criminal conspiracy”.

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