Three civilians were killed by an Army captain in a staged encounter in Shopian
The Jammu and Kashmir Police have filed a chargesheet against three persons, including an Army officer, in the July 2020 Shopian fake encounter case involving three civilians.
The 1,400-page chargesheet was filed in the court of principal district and sessions judge, Shopian on Saturday by the head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), the J&K Police said on December 27.
Captain Bhupinder of the Army's 62 Rashtriya Rifles, Bilal Ahmed Lone and Tabish Nazir were named as accused in the chargeseheet for their role in the alleged fake encounter killing of the three men hailing from Rajouri District, they added.
A police spokesperson said the court has issued an order, giving an option to the Army under the relevant sections of law for a trial of Captain Bhupinder alias Major Basheer Khan in a criminal court of ordinary jurisdiction or court martial.
The spokesperson said during investigation, it came to light that a conspiracy was hatched by the accused captain and civilians Nazir and Lone to abduct the three civilians and stage the encounter.
"They deliberately and purposefully chose not to follow SOPs, planted illegally-acquired weapons and material on their bodies after stripping them of their identities and tagged them as hardcore terrorists in possession of war-like stores, deliberately providing false information to colleagues and seniors,” he said.
The information obtained from the accused led the SIT to recreate the scenes of the crime, including the routes used after meeting the victims and the place where they were killed, the spokesperson said.
“During further investigation, all the circumstantial evidence, which includes two vehicles and the service rifle of Captain Singh of the 62 RR, were seized,” he added.
Lone has become an approver under the relevant section of law and his statement has been recorded before the chief judicial magistrate, Shopian, the spokesperson said.
During the investigation, the statements of 49 witnesses were recorded, he added.
The Army said on December 25 it has completed the Summary of Evidence against two of its men involved in July’s Amshipura encounter in Shopian district, in which the three civilians were killed.
A possible court martial could take place after the completion of the formalities, Army officials said.
The Army had ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) earlier this year after reports appeared on social media that the three men, labelled as terrorists, were gunned down by its personnel.
The CoI, which completed its probe in September, found “prima facie” evidence that the troops had “exceeded” the powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the July 18 encounter. Following this, the Army had initiated disciplinary proceedings.
Officials in the know of the development said the two Army personnel may face court martial proceedings for violating the powers vested under the AFSPA, 1990 and not following the “dos and don’ts” of the Chief of Army Staff as approved by the Supreme Court.