14 years later, Army closes Pathribal fake encounter case
Jammu: In a major decision, the Army on Thursday closed the Pathribal fake encounter case saying that the evidence recorded could not establish prime facie charges against any of the accused persons.
"The evidence recorded could not establish a prime facie case against any of the accused persons," a defence spokesman said in Jammu today, adding that, however, it was "clearly established that it (the Pathribal encounter) was a joint operation by police and the Army based on specific intelligence".
"The case has been closed by Army authorities and intimation given to the Court of the Judicial Magistrate in Srinagar," the spokesman said.
CBI had in 2006 indicted five army personnel for staging the fake encounter while giving a clean chit to state police.
After it was handed over the case in January, 2003, CBI alleged that officials and jawans of the Seven Rashtriya Rifles - Brig Ajay Saxena, Lt Col Brahendra Pratap Singh, Maj Saurabh Sharma, Maj Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan - had staged a fake encounter and killed five innocent civilians whom they said were terrorists involved in an attack on Sikhs at Chittisinghpora in south Kashmir.
Five people were killed on March 26, 2000, at Pathribal in South Kashmir.
Army had claimed that those killed were mercenaries who were responsible for gunning down 35 members of the Sikh community in an attack on March 21 while the then US President Bill Clinton was on a visit to India.
Consequent to the CBI probe and an order from Supreme Court in March, 2012, Army had taken over the case from the Court of the Srinagar Chief Judicial Magistrate, the spokesman said.
"Over 50 witnesses were examined, including a large number of civilian witnesses and state government and police officials," he added.
The 18-page CBI chargesheet stated that following the gunning down of the Sikh community members, the Army unit based in the area was under "tremendous psychological pressure" to show results.
In the past, 123 Army personnel have been found guilty in 59 cases of human rights violations in J&K, the spokesman added.
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