May 2006 News

Charge sheet filed against Army officials in Pathribal killings

11 May 2006
The Daily Excelsior
From Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Srinagar: Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) today stole the show of high profile policing in Kashmir as it took over the investigation of the explosive 'sex scandal' and filed charge sheet against five Army officials, including an officer of the rank of Brigadier, in the infamous Pathribal killings case of March 2000. In follow up to notifications from the State Home Department and Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India, a 12-member special team of CBI, headed by DIG Pankaj Kumar, reached here in the afternoon to begin investigation in so-called 'sex scandal' that has generated fire against unnamed politicians and Police officials for the last two weeks. Informed official sources told the EXCELSIOR that the CBI team went straightaway to the Zonal Police Headquarters and took over the investigation of the criminal matter registered at Police Station Shaheed Gunj initially under IT Act 67 in March this year. Sources said that on the Chief Minister's special request to the Prime Ministers Office, which directly controls Department of Personnel and Training as well as CBI, the premier investigation agency team would continuously stay in Srinagar, at least for three months. According to these sources, the CBI team would examine all concerned records and possible evidences with full logistical support from the State and the Central Governments. It would use all necessary equipments and techniques, including lie detectors, to ascertain facts and find which provisions of law had been violated by the accused. FIR registered at Police Station Shaheed Gunj would accordingly be amended. Sources said that CBI would question all concerned-including officials, politicians and mediapersons-to identify '2 Ministers of coalition Government, one DIG of BSF, 3 SPs, 7 Dy SPs and 43 girls' who had been mentioned as 'involved in the sex scandal' without their identification in the initial media reports. Sources said that CBI was also going to obtain unedited footage of the 'interviews of victim girls' run by two major television news channels. Faces of the 'victims' had been blurred by the news channels for 'security reasons'. It is now said to have surfaced that one of the two girls shown by the channels was not a 'blackmailed victim' but actually the 'voluntary Police source', daughter of a bank official from Dalgate, who had helped Police to expose the original sex scam of October 2004. Most explosive part of that investigation, suggesting involvement of 9 ministers of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's Government, had been hushed up for unknown reasons. CBI is likely to investigate whether that case had failed in the court for want of adequate evidences or it had been hushed up by political intervention. A middle-aged woman, namely Sabina, has been widely mentioned as 'kingpin' in both these matters. Meanwhile, yet another CBI team from Chandigarh, today filed charge sheet in the infamous Pathribal killings case of March 2000 against five Army officials in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar, which also happens to be the CBI Special Court. CJM, Mr Mohammad Yusuf Akhoon, admitted the challan and issued notices to all the five accused asking them to produce themselves before the court and explain on May 25 whether they would like the trial by court martial or a regular criminal court. After conducting the investigation for about three years, CBI has filed charges of murder, abduction with intention to murder, wrongful confinement, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence against Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt Col B P Singh, Major Saurabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Junior Commissioned Officer Idrees Khan. The operation at Panchalthan, Pathribal, in Anantnag district, had been conducted by a company of Rashtriya Rifles 7th Bn then headed by Maj Ajay Saxena. On March 25, 2000, troops of RR 7th Bn had claimed to have killed 'five foreign militants responsible for massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chittisingpora on March 20' in an encounter at Panchalthan, Pathribal. People in Anantnag had raised hue and cry that the five charred human beings could be the five innocent civilians who had mysteriously disappeared from their residences two days after the massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chittisingpora. On April 3, seven civilian demonstrators had got killed in firing by CRPF and SOG Anantnag at Brakpora, in Anantnag outskirts, when they were asking authorities to reveal whereabouts of the five missing persons as also the identification of the 'five foreign militants' Army had claimed killed in an encounter at Pathribal. After eventful sequences of nearly three years-exhumation of Pathribal bodies, DNA testing at two forensic laboratories, fudging of DNA samples, attachments, suspensions and transfers of senior officials and finally the 'foreign militants' turning out to be innocent civilians-the investigation was handed over to CBI in January 2003. CBI has finally exonerated then SSP Anantnag, Farooq Khan, and other J&K Police officials but found five Army officials, including a Brigade Commander, guilty of killing five innocent civilians in a fake encounter. The civilians killed and charred beyond normal recognition were identified as Zahoor Ahmed Dalal of Mominabad, Bashir Ahmed Bhat S-o Abdul Aziz Bhat R-o Halan, Mohammad Yusuf Malik S-o Abdul Kabir Malik R-o Halan, Juma Khan S-o Amirullah and Juma Khan S-o Faqeerullah.


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