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Srinagar court rejects Army's plea in Pathribal case

Written by: Staff
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Srinagar, Aug 25 (UNI) A local court has rejected the Army plea that the CBI has no jurisdiction to file a chargesheet against five senior Rashtriya Rifles (RR) personnel, including a Brigadier, accused of killing five innocent civilians in a fake encounter at Pathribal in Anantnag district of south Kashmir on March 25, 2000.

Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Srinagar Mohammad Yousuf Akhoon granted three weeks time to the Army to decide if it would prefer trial of the accused in a criminal court or intend to initiate court martial proceedings against them.

The Judge asked the Army authorities to reply by September 15.

The CBI had filed a chargesheet against five top Army officers -- Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt Col (then Major) Bijendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan -- in the CJM court here on May 11, charging them with murder, wrongful confinement, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence.

The Army officials, then attached with 7 RR, had allegedly killed the five civilians -- Zahoor Ahmed Dalal of Mominabad, Mohammad Yousuf Malik of Kokernag, Bashir Ahmed Bhat of Kapran Dooru, Juma Khan (son of Faqeer Khan) and Juma Khan (son of Sher Ali Khan) of Brari Angan -- in a fake encounter and later dubbed them as foreign militants responsible for killing 36 Sikhs at Chattisinghpora village in Anantnag district on March 20, 2000.

According to the chargesheet, the accused Army personnel carried out ''Operation Swift'' in the forest area of Pathribal and allegedly killed the five innocent civilians in a fake encounter.

''The Army personnel involved entered into a criminal conspiracy in which they decided to pick up five innocent civilians and stage-managed a fake encounter to claim that the slain persons had been the perpetrators of the Chattisinghpora massacre,'' it added.

''The accused tried to create an impression that the militants responsible for Chhattisinghpora killings had been neutralised.'' the chargesheet said.

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