Srinagar: The 2001 gunbattle in which current Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh participated and was injured, was "not a fake encounter, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ruled.
According to a report appearing in the Indian Express, the high court has ruled out a "re-investigation" for now, but asked the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Anantnag to have the matter inquired into by a gazetted officer, as had been directed earlier by the Deputy Inspector General of the district in August 2011.
In his 33-page judgment, High Court judge Justice Hasnain Masoodi was quoted by the daily, as saying: "The occurrence is not a ``fake encounter`` in the sense the expression is used in common parlance or in the context of the law and order situation... "The writ petition is disposed of with a direction to senior superintendent of police, Anantnag, to entrust the matter as directed by deputy inspector general of police, South Kashmir Range, Anantnag, (on) 9th August 2011, to a gazetted officer for necessary inquiry..., and submit his report to deputy inspector general of police, South Kashmir Range, Anantnag, for further necessary action..."
The court also said "there is no period of limitation for (high) courts to exercise their powers under Article 226 to call for re-investigation".
The Indian Express quoted Counsel for the Army Karnail Singh Wazir, as saying that the matter had "crossed the stages where the petitioners could seek further investigation".
"The court accepted our plea that it was not a fake encounter but a genuine encounter," he said.
The defence ministry had told the court last year that the encounter took place after a Pakistani militant, Mateen Chacha, fired at the security forces. It attached with its reply to the court detailed reports of the police investigation and documents from the Army`s 92 Base Hospital where the then Brigadier Bikram Singh was admitted after being hit in the exchange of fire.
"A militant posing as a beggar opened fire on the convoy. In the attack, Colonel JP Janu and Rifleman Ganesh Kumar were killed, General Singh and another officer were injured. Later, identity card belonging to Mateen Chacha was recovered from the possession of the militant," the ministry told the court.
The plea for reprobe was filed by Zytoona Begum in October 2010, alleging that the security forces had killed her son Mohammad Abdullah Bhat in cold blood and passed him off as militant commander Mohidin Rabbani alias Mateen Chacha. Zytoona claimed her family had spent years searching for Bhat after he went missing from Anantnag, where he worked as a labourer.
Wazir said, "They (the petitioners) have come before the court after 10 years and have not produced any record which substantiates the argument that it was Abdullah and not Mateen Chacha from Pakistan."