Army challenges police action in Kashmir fake encounters
4 May 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
Srinagar: The Indian Army has challenged the jurisdiction of the Jammu and Kashmir Police in charging five army personnel in the infamous fake encounter cases, where civilians were kidnapped, framed as terrorists and killed. The army, in an application filed in the court of the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) here Thursday, has challenged the chargesheet filed by the special investigation team (SIT) probing the alleged staged shootouts that resulted in the killing of five civilians in Jammu and Kashmir.According to the army, the police had not sought permission from the union home ministry before framing charges against five Rashtriya Rifles personnel, allegedly involved in the custodial death of Maulvi Shoukat Kataria, an Imam belonging to Bannihal in Jammu region.It stressed that a sanction was mandatory in this case as the troops were protected by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act while deployed in the region. The SIT had produced its chargesheet in the court on April 12, accusing the five troopers, including a colonel and a major, of murdering Kataria. It also accused five of its own officials including a senior superintendent of police, a deputy superintendent, an assistant sub-inspector and two constables.The court has now directed the police to file objections by May 18.A police official, however, told IANS that the SIT did not need the home ministry's permission in the matter as the accused could not claim protection under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in this case.'Those accused have not acted in the line of duty. They stepped out of their uniform and the official brief when they hatched a conspiracy to kidnap and kill civilians after framing them as foreign militants. It is a plain case of crime. Where is the question of immunity to somebody under a special law of the land when he steps out of his uniform and becomes a heinous criminal?' the officer remarked.