Army captain found culpable of killing 3 labourers

Shopian fake encounter: Army captain found culpable of killing 3 labourers

The SIT headed by deputy superintendent of J&K police produced a 300-page challan against the accused trio before the Principal and Sessions Judge, Shopian

An Army officer of the rank of a captain and two others have been found culpable in the killing of three labourers from Rajouri district, who the army initially had claimed were terrorists, in Shopian district of south Kashmir in July this year.

A special investigation team (SIT) of J&K police, constituted to probe the incident, on Saturday produced challan against captain Bupinder of Army’s 62 Rashtriya Rifles battalion, Tabish Ahmad and Bilal Ahmad, both locals.

The SIT headed by deputy superintendent of J&K police, Wajahat Hussian, produced a 300-page challan against the accused trio before the Principal and Sessions Judge, Shopian. 

The three laborers, one of them a 16-year-old, had gone to Kashmir from their hometown Rajouri in Jammu, looking for work. They were killed in Amshipora village in Shopian on July 18. On July 19, the army announced that three “terrorists” had been killed in the encounter, which had taken place following a cordon-and-search operation in Amshipora.

The Army gave a detailed account saying the security forces had been fired upon, that there was an exchange of fire, and during the recovery of bodies, they had found arms, ammunition, and IED material at the hideout.

However, the incident came under the scanner when families from Rajouri claimed that their kin, who went to Shopian, had gone missing. Following these claims, the Army and the Police ordered separate inquiries into the matter.

The DNA samples of the families were lifted on August 13 and sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for examination and comparison with the “three unidentified slain militants.” On September 25, the DNA sample reports of the three slain persons matched with their parents.

On September 18, the Army initiated disciplinary action against unnamed soldiers and officers involved in the Amshipora encounter. In a brief statement, the Army accepted that its men ‘prima facie’ violated powers under Armed Forces Special Powers Acts (AFSPA).

The slain men had been buried at a graveyard in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, where unidentified militants are interred. Their bodies were exhumed on October 3, after around 70 days, and later buried in their home town.

On December 24, the Army said that the ‘summary of evidence’ proceedings into the 18 July Amshipora, ‘encounter’ case has been completed.

“Indian Army is committed to the ethical conduct of operations. Further details will be shared in a manner so as not to prejudice the proceedings under Army law,” a defence spokesperson said.