Pathribal Encounter: Army Asks Dead To Depose, Families Shocked

Srinagar - The Indian Army is under fire for summoning dead persons in the probe into the Pathribal encounter that took place in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir in March 2000.

The families of the victims are shocked at what they say is the Army’s callousness. They demand that the trial court be shifted to Kashmir if the Indian Army wants them to attend the proceedings.

The furore started when the Army served a summon in the name of Amirullah, who died in 1994, six years before his son Juma Khan and four others were killed in the fake encounter in Pathribal.

“The summons that they sent us are in the name of my grandfather who died 20 years ago. We cannot go there,” said Shakoor Khan, Amirullah’s grandson.

The family members have decided not to attend the court-martial proceedings if the venue at Nagrota near Jammu is not transferred to Kashmir. They have also demanded security and counsel of their own choice.

Roshan Jan, wife of slain Juma Khan, said that she could not understand any other language except Gojri and hence was unable to attend proceedings. She added that she was unwell and not in a state to talk. She too demanded that the venue of the trial be shifted to Kashmir.

Abdul Rashid, Juma Khan’s son, questioned the need for a probe. He said, “The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has already said they were killed in cold-blood and charge-sheeted. What is the need to do a probe again? I fear for my family.”

Their demand is backed by the political parties in the valley.

Mehboob Beg, a National Conference (NC) MP, said, “The CBI has already confirmed those were murders. It is time for action and not to go into technicalities.”

Five youths were killed in the Pathribal fake encounter in March 2000, a few days after the Sikh massacre in Chhattisinghpora, again in the Anantnag district. Earlier this year, the Army told the Supreme Court it will court-martial the accused officers, following which a Defence Ministry spokesperson reached out to the families of the slain men saying that the Army was committed to a fair and transparent trial and “witnesses would be given reasonable time to record their statements”.

Since the Pathribal trial is being taken over by the Army, it should ensure that justice is done. For the victims who are awaiting justice for 12 long years, the patience is running thin.

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