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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Shopian fake encounter: Indian Army captain attempted to destroy evidence

The Indian Army captain involved in the fake encounter in Kashmir’s Shopian district last July and two other civilian accused haven’t provided any information about the source of weapons planted on the three slain youths and had also attempted to destroy the evidence.

The charge sheet filed by the Special Investigation Team of the Jammu and Kashmir Police before the chief judicial magistrate noted: Captain Bhoopendra Singh had also provided wrong information to his superiors and the police about the recovery made during the staged encounter.  

“No leads regarding the source of illegal weapons as illegally arranged by accused” for planting on the bodies were provided, the charge sheet said.

On July 18, last year, the Indian army killed three youths and dubbed as militants in Shopian’s Amshipura. Later, the Army ordered a Court of Inquiry after reports appeared on social media that the three youths were innocent.

“By staging the encounter,” the three accused “have purposefully destroyed evidence or real crime that they have committed and also have (been) purposefully projecting false information as part of a criminal conspiracy hatched between them with the motive to grab a prize money of Rs 20 lakh,” the chargesheet said.

The Indian Army, however, like in case of other fake encounters, had denied that its captain staged the encounter for Rs 20 lakh, claiming there was no system of cash rewards for its personnel for any acts in combat situations or otherwise in the line of duty.

“The evidence was destroyed by accused Captain Singh,” the charge sheet said.

Singh, who has been placed under detention, along with the other two accused — Tabish Nazir and Bilal Ahmed Lone — set fire to a shelter at the encounter site, according to the charge sheet.

The accused captain was in touch with Fayaz Ahmed, a special police officer posted with the Special Operations Group, through two mobile numbers registered in the name of civilians.

Ahmed, who is listed as a witness in this case, was approached by Singh for arranging weapons. A resident of Poonch in Jammu region, Ahmed gave his statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code before a magistrate.

The SIT charge sheet gave details of forensic analysis of the crime scene which was photographed “from all possible perspectives”. The Forensic and Scientific Laboratory team recovered vital evidence that was seized.

Based on responses filed by 62 Rashtriya Rifles to the SIT about details of the ammunition fired during the incident along with a copy of Situation Report, the “accused captain had claimed to have (sic) fired a total of 37 rounds from his service rifle”.

The Army, in its FIR registered at Heerpora police station, had claimed that based on “their own input about hiding of unknown militants in village Amshipora”, the encounter was launched on July 17, 2020 during which three unidentified hardcore militants were killed.

Two pistols with two magazines and four empty pistol cartridges, 15 live cartridges and 15 empty cartridges of AK series weapon and other objectionable items were recovered from the encounter site.

However, during the ballistic and forensic examination of the scene of crime, four empty cartridges were recovered — two of which were from 7.65 mm and two from 9 mm pistols (used by the Army).

“The seized fifteen 7.62×39 mm rifle cartridge cases (used in AK rifles) were found to have been fired from more than four firearms.

“From the circumstances at the crime scene which are contrary to the findings of the ballistic expert opinion the version of the accused captain Bhoopendra Singh… regarding information furnished by him in FIR is not supported.” 

There was no seizure of AK rifles from the staged encounter.

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