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‘Weapons planted on bodies to fake encounter in Shopian’: Court martial or criminal court, judge asks Army

Srinagar: In a first, police on Sunday accepted that during it investigation into the July 18 fake encounter in Amshipora, Shopian, it came to the fore that the accused Army Captain and his two aides planted “illegally acquired weapons and material” on the bodies of the three labourers to pass them off as hardcore militants.

“During investigation it transpired that conspiracy has been hatched by accused Captain Bhoopendra Singh @ Major Basheer Khan of 62 RR, Tabish Nazir son of Nazir Ahmed Malik of Chowgam, and Bilal Ahmed Lone son of Ghulam Nabi Lone of Arabal Nikas Pulwama to abduct (the three labourers) and stage the encounter. They deliberately and purposefully chose not to follow SOPs, they planted illegally acquired weapons and material on their dead bodies after stripping them of their identities and tagged them as hardcore terrorists in possession of war-like stores and deliberately providing false information to colleagues/senior,” police said in a statement on Sunday.

Back in August, The Kashmir Monitor was the first to report how three labourers from Rajouri had gone missing and were found dead in Shopian in the same area of Amshipora where Army had claimed killing three militants on July 18.

Abrar Ahmad Khan (17) son of Bagga Khan, his brother-in-law Abrar Ahmad (25) son of Mohammad Yusuf, and their relative Imtiyaz Ahmad (20) son of Sabr Hussain, all residents of Peeri, Kotranka in Rajouri district, disappeared after they left home on July 16 to work as daily-wage labourers in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

Over two weeks later, the families of the trio were shocked to see the purported picture of three alleged militants killed in an encounter at Amshipora village in the Shopian district on July 18.

It was subsequently established through a DNA test that the three labourers were indeed the civilians killed and dubbed as militants in Amshipora, Shopian.

“As per SOPs Army informed the police for registration of FIR. During investigation of above said FIR, sections 307 IPC, 7/27 Arms Act, 16 ULA(P) Act against the slain youth were dropped and the offences under section 302, 364, 201, 436, 120-B, 182 IPC and section 7/25 IA Act against accused Captain Bhoopendra Singh @ Major Basheer Khan of 62 RR, Tabish Nazir, and Bilal Ahmed Lone was established and therefore incorporated in the instant Case,” the police statement on Sunday added.

On Saturday, police filed a 1400-word charge-sheet against the accused trio before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Shopian.

“Accordingly, an order has been issued by Hon’ble Court asking the Army Authorities under relevant sections of law to give their opinion whether the accused Captain Bhoopendra Singh @ Major Basheer Khan of 62 RR be tried by the Criminal Court of ordinary jurisdiction or by the Court Martial,” the statement added.

“During the investigation, statement of 49 witnesses was recorded under relevant sections of law and a total of 75 witnesses were listed under the list of witness annexed with the challan,” the statement read.