A court in Doda district has acquitted 'encounter specialist' cop Shiv Kumar Sharma alias Sonu and seven others of all charges in the 2013 Thathri police station blast case.
Principal District and Sessions Judge Bhaderwah M K Sharma acquitted the accused police officer and seven others, who were facing charges, after 15 important witnesses turned hostile.
Acquitting the officer, who was "instrumental in killing 68 militants in Doda-Kishtwar belt," Sharma observed that as per charge-sheet police cited 93 witnesses to establish various charges against the accused person but after examination of 15 witnesses u/s 164-A Cr.P.C, majority of them including some police personnel and respectable people of the locality have turned hostile. They (witnesses) have stated that they were tortured, threatened and detained to make statements against the accused during the course of investigation.
Sharma observed that it is a case full of doubts in which benefit of doubt has to be accorded to the accused.
The court observed that police have not investigated the case properly and directed senior superintendent of police (SSP) Doda to hold enquiry into the matter.
The officer of Special Task Force officer was arrested on June 4, 2013. However, he got bail on August 1, 2014. The SI is recipient of several awards including the President's medal.
Sharma has killed dozens of militants in Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar and Ramban. He rose upto the rank of sub-inspector from an SPO. He had been felicitated by then Deputy PM LK Advani and others.
As per police case, accused Shiv Kumar was in-charge SOG Kishtwar whereas other accused Mohammad Ayub the PSO of Shiv Kumar.
It is alleged that in order to earn out of turn promotion as well as monetary benefits, Shiv Kumar and his PSO along with accused Arshad Ahmed and Mohd. Arif Naik hatched a criminal conspiracy and chalked out a plan to engage two Kashmiri boys, namely Muzaffar Ahmed resident of Tahab Pulwama and Shahbaz of Pathipura Pulwama as militants with area of operation Kishtwar and Doda districts with a criminal design to carry out subversive activities in the area.
It is alleged that Shiv Kumar had planned to later eliminate both Muzaffar and Shahbaz and other accomplices by branding them as militants to achieve promotions. On 14.04.2013, Shiv Kumar called approver Abdul Rashid to Kishtwar and in the morning of 15.04.2013, Shiv Kumar and his PSO gave one bag containing one pistol alongwith magazine and five live cartridges, one AK 56 rifle alongwith 3 magazines and 143 cartridges and 3 Chinese grenades to approver Abdul Rashid and sent him to Kahara.
Abdul Rashid gave one pistol alongwith magazine and five cartridges to Mohammad Rafi and one AK-56 rifle alongwith 03 magazines and 143 cartridges to Akhtar Hussain and one Chinese grenade each to Shahbaz and Muzaffer (Kashmiri boys) and deputed them for given assignments.
On 20.04.2013, Abdul Rashid alongwith Mohammad Rafi reached Bhaderwah on the direction of Shiv Kumar to eliminate one Bansi Lal Gupta C/o Gupta Bakery, a prominent BJP leader of the area but the duo failed in their design.
On 27.04.2013, Abdul Rashid got one grenade from Mohammad Yaqoob and gave it to Mohammad Altaf. The accused Mohammad Altaf was directed to throw grenade on the cavalcade of Chief Secretary who was returning from Kishtwar or on a group of people or on PS Thathri.
Mohammad Altaf failed to throw grenade on the cavalcade of Chief Secretary and on public but succeeded in throwing it on police station Thathri in the intervening night of 27/28 April 2013, which did not explode.
During investigation, Mohd. Rafi was arrested who during interrogation narrated the whole story to the police.
During the course of investigation, the aforesaid weapons were recovered from the accused persons.