M A I N   N E W S

Army suspends Major in fake encounter case
Colonel too penalised; decision ahead of PM’s J-K visit
Ehsan fazili
Tribune News Service

All eyes on visit

n PM last visited state in October 2009 to inaugurate last section of Qazigund-Baramulla rail link
n Likely to renew offer to separatists for talks

What Hurriyat wants

n Comprehensive political package on autonomy
n Release of political prisoners
n Withdrawal of troops
n Revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act

Srinagar, June 6
The day before Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh begins a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, his second in the last seven months, the Army responded today to allegations of a fake encounter at Machil by removing a Colonel from command and placing a Major under suspension.

The announcement followed a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at the Unified Command headquarters in Srinagar.

Both Col DK Pathania, Commanding Officer of 4 Rajput Regiment and Major Upinder of the same regiment, were named as the main accused by the J&K police in the April 30 Machil encounter case. The Army had claimed to have gunned down three unidentified infiltrators and had claimed them to be Pakistani terrorists.

However, Mohamad Shafi, Shehjad Ahmed and Riyaz Ahmed turned out to be residents of Nadihal in Baramulla district and their relatives claimed they were lured to the border areas and shot. The GOC-in-C of the Northern Command, Lt Gen BS Jaswal, declared after the meeting, “An inquiry has been ordered and there will be total transparency in bringing out the truth,” he said and added this is the first step and should establish the Army’s sincerity in getting to the bottom of it.

News agency PTI quoted state government sources on Sunday as stating that the Army had pressed the panic button and warned of a suicide attack during the Prime Minister’s visit to the valley. “But they have been found to be unsubstantiated by the state police and central security agencies,” said the report. A proposal to shift the PM’s official engagements to the Cantonment area was turned down by the state government.

The hardliners of the Hurriyat have given a strike call for tomorrow while the moderates have demanded a ‘political package’ for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. The ruling National Conference is also expected to seek early talks on providing greater autonomy to the state as recommended by the Sagir Ahmed Committee. During the visit, Union Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prithviraj Chavan will accompany the PM.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to address the convocation of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. Governor NN Vohra, who is also the Chancellor of the university, had invited the PM to deliver the convocation address.

The PM will also review the progress of the recommendations made during the Round Table Conference chaired by him in 2007 besides being briefed on the security situation and infiltration.

Five working groups were set up then and they have submitted their reports on improving Centre’s relations with the state, furthering relations across the Line of Control, giving a boost to the state’s economic development, good governance and confidence-building measures like the rehabilitation of the destitute families of militants and reviewing the case of detainees.

The Prime Minister will also hold consultations with various political parties. The visit comes in the backdrop of the ‘quiet diplomacy’ initiated by the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram with separatist leaders, which failed to make much headway with the Hurriyat refusing to join it.

The PM is expected to renew the offer to hold talks with the separatists while asking them to work towards restoring normalcy in the state.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |