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Pathribal case closure shocks victims’ families
Ishfaq Tantry
Tribune News Service

‘Very disappointed’

Extremely disappointed with the decision of the army reg #Pathribal. Will ask the Law Dept & Advocate General to examine options. A matter as serious as #Pathribal can't be closed or wished away like this more so with the findings of the CBI so self-evident.

Omar Abdullah, j-k chief minister

Srinagar, January 24
Disappointed over the Army’s clean chit to five officers for the year 2000 Pathribal encounter, family members of the slain civilians want the case to be tried before the civil courts in Kashmir and are pinning their hopes on the state government’s intervention.

Five persons were killed on March 25, 2000, at Pathribal in South Kashmir. The Army had claimed to have killed Lashkar militants responsible for gunning down 36 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora on March 20, 2000. Relatives, who had seen their men being taken away, grew suspicious of the Army’s claims. They later identified the bodies of the “militants” as those of their men.

“I had no faith in the Army proceedings from the very beginning. Despite that, my mother and I appeared before the Army and recorded our statements at Awnatipora in March 2013. The Army’s decision to close the case has shattered all hope of getting justice,” said Rashid Khan of Anantnag’s remote Brari Angan village. His father, Jumma Khan (50), was one of the five persons killed in the “encounter. His brother was killed in the protests that followed.

“The only option for us now is to appeal to the state government to take up the issue. We will also explore legal options to try the matter before civilian courts,” said Rashid.

Giving the clean chit, the Army said the evidence recorded could not prima facie establish a case against the five officers, adding what happened in Pathribal was a joint operation by the police and the Army based on specific intelligence.

Ghulam Nabi Malik, the elder brother of slain Mohammad Yousuf Malik (38), struggled to find words to describe his sorrow. “In our case, the Army is both the killer and the judge.

If the Army says its men are innocent, then who killed my brother and other civilians? Besides, the case was also established by the CBI during its investigation”, Malik said.

The CBI had in 2006 indicted five Army personnel for staging the “fake” encounter while giving a clean chit to the state police.

The Maliks have now decided to approach the court and demand a civilian trial. “We still had faint hope when we went to record our statements before the Army at Awnatipora last year. I told them that the Army first abducted my brother and later killed him. The victims’ bodies were later exhumed and identified after performing tests,” he recalled.

Following the CBI probe and an order from the Supreme Court in March, 2012, the Army took over the case. The SC gave the Army the option to choose between a civil trial of the accused or court martial proceedings.

Shakoor Khan and his family have been left crestfallen by the decision to close the case. He was barely 20 when he lost his father Jumma Khan (38) in the firing. “Our family has been plunged into mourning once again,” said Shakoor.





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