Army issues summons to victims’ families
‘What Are We Supposed To Depose When CBI Has Established Army’s Involvement In Killings’
Islamabad (Anantnag), Oct 2: After the families of the five civilians killed in Pathribal fake encounter opted out of the court martial trial which was to be conducted on September 20 in Jammu, the Army has shot another summon to the families asking them to depose as witnesses on Wednesday. However, families, apprehensive of the transparency in proceedings, have once again decided to skip the trial.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 16 Corp, Lt Gen A S Nandal has once again asked the family members of the five victims of the fake encounter to depose before the court on October 3 at Nagrota in Jammu.
“Whereas hearing of charges will be held at HQ 16 Corps (Nagrota) on the 3rd day of October 2012 against the accused persons in the Pathribal encounter case, I do hereby summon and require you to attend as witnesses, at Nagrota and bring with you relevant documents/material, if any, so to attend from day to day until you shall be duly discharged, when of you shall fail at your peril (sic),” reads the summon issued to the family members of the victims.
Earlier, the Army had issued summons to the families to depose as witnesses on September 20. However, families did not join the trial after the Army refused to accept their demand of shifting the court martial venue to Srinagar. They are also demanding a counsel of their choice to plead their case and security personnel to accompany them.
“We have been demanding shifting of the Court Martial venue to Srinagar but unfortunately the Army has decided against it. So, there is no point going to Nagrota from here,” said Rashid Khan son of late Jumma Khan, one of the victims of Brari Aangan village.
He said that if the Army would have been serious in seeing the culprits to be punished they would have conceded to our demand.
Rasheed who has been vigorously pursuing the case, has not been summoned by the Army and instead his old and ailing mother has been called to depose as witness.
“The irony is that they have been issuing summons to my mother, Roshan Jan, who is old and is suffering from multiple ailments and as such it was impossible for her to travel to Jammu and remain there till the proceedings are over. Furthermore, she does not know anything about the case except that the men in uniform picked up her husband in the dead of the night in March 2000 and later killed him in a staged encounter,” said Rasheed.
He said that her mother also can’t understand any other language other than Gojri and as such he doubts the intentions of the Army.
“We have been maintaining it from day one that the court martial proceedings lack any transparency and the Army may shield its own officers,” said Rasheed adding that how can they expect justice from the perpetrators of the crime.
The families also blamed the state for ignoring their repeated pleas in this regard.
“The victim families won’t be comfortable with the language of Army so the state should have provided us the counsel of their choice who can translate their statements,” said Shakoor Khan S/O late Jumma Khan (another victim) of Brari Aangan village. Like, Rasheed’s mother, Shakoor’s mother Noori has also been summoned by the Army and according to him she too is old and ailing and won’t be in a position to travel such a long distance.
Interestingly, unlike the previous occasions, the army has this time around not issued summons to Faqirullah Khan and Amirullah Khan, fathers of two victims both of whom had died even before the Pathribal fake encounter took place.
The summons have once again also been issued to the family members of other three victims Zahoor Dalal of Moominabad, Islamabad; Bashir Ahmad Bhat of Kapran and Muhammad Yousuf Malik of Kapran and they too have decided not to participate in the court martial proceedings.
“The state government has not bothered to help our plea of shifting the court martial venue before the Army and we have been left at our own mercy,” said the families.
“Only providing us security is not going to help as the question arises whether they would be allowed to be present during the proceedings. But so far the government has not even responded to that demand too,” they added.
They said that while the killers are roaming free, the victim families have been subjected to mental torture.
“We don’t know what we are supposed to depose as the CBI and even the Apex court has established the involvement of top Army officers in the fake encounter. But now we are being treated as the culprits and the Army officers as victims,” they added.
APEX COURT OBSERVATIONS
In January this year, army told the Supreme Court that it will not take over the case of its officers involved in the fake encounter.
The army said the initiation of proceedings without permission is illegal. The Supreme Court criticized the army for its stand regarding the issue, saying that neither is it willing to take over the case nor is it handing it over to the magistrate.
“Nothing has been happening for the last 10 years regarding the case. Victims have not been able to get justice,” the Supreme Court observed.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also criticized the army stating that it has been trying to bury the case.
On March 19, CBI told the Supreme Court that the Pathribal encounter was in fact “cold blooded murder” and that the guilty officers deserve to be meted out exemplary punishment.
On May 1, the Supreme Court had given the army eight weeks to decide whether the accused should be tried by a regular criminal court or face a court-martial. The ruling had disappointed rights groups fighting to have the soldiers tried in a criminal court.
On June 29 the Army decided to opt for court martial to try five officers accused of killing five civilians in Pathribal fake encounter in March 2000 and subsequently the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar (designated CBI court) transferred the whole record of Pathribal case to Army authorities for initiating proceedings against the accused army men under the Army Act.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 2 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 2 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 3 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST
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