Army starts court-martial proceedings against its officer over Amshipora fake gunfight

SRINAGAR — The Indian Army on Monday said that court-martial proceedings have been initiated against its officer who was found involved in Amshipora fake encounter.

“The Court Martial proceedings have been initiated against a captain involved in Amshipora encounter,” a senior Army official told news agency Kashmir News Observer (KNO).

In a statement issued here, the Defence spokesman in Srinagar said, “The Army has initiated general court-martial proceedings against a Captain in Op Amshipura, Shopian in south Kashmir in July 2020 after the Court of Inquiry and the Summary of Evidence indicated a need for disciplinary proceedings.”

The spokesman further said that the Indian Army is committed to the ethical conduct of operations. “Further updates on the case will be shared in a manner so as not to prejudice due process of law,” he said.

Meanwhile, the family members of three youth killed in the fake encounter in Amshipora Shopian on July 16, 2020, said that they are hopeful that justice will prevail and involved Army men will get punishment. “We are hopeful that the promises made by the LG Manoj Sinha when he visited our residences, will be fulfilled as well,” the family members of the slain told KNO.

Muhammad Yousuf, the father of one of the slain labourer killed in the fake encounter, told KNO that he was called by Army around 10 days ago and asked to submit the missing report filed by them. “We had already provided the same to them twice in the past,” he said. “Since then, we are here in central Kashmir along with the Army and are being told that court-martial proceedings have been started.”

Yousuf said that on Monday afternoon, the Army allowed them to return back to Jammu, stating that next month, they will be called again. “For now, we have left for our homes,” he said.

He said that when LG Sinha visited their residences in Rajouri, he had promised that one family of each slain killed in Amshipora encounter will get a government job and Rs 5 lakh cash. “As of now, we have just received a Rs 5 lakh cheque and are waiting for the jobs,” he said.

Family members have requested LG to ensure the fast-track court-martial proceedings and provide jobs to families as well.

Notably, on July 18, 2020, three labourers were killed in a fake encounter at Amshipora, Shopian. Their pictures went viral on social media after which three families from Rajouri district of Jammu claimed that the slain were their kin who had travelled to Shopian to work as labourers.

Amid hue and cry by the netizens and civil society activists, the families demanded DNA mapping of the slain trio.

The police conducted the DNA profiling of the slain, the samples of which matched with three Rajouri families on September 25, which proved that the slain were not militants but labourers who were earning their living in Amshipora.

While the Army initially said the three were “terrorists”, it later admitted that its men exceeded the powers vested under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and contravened the Dos and Don’ts of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Supreme Court. The Army had also ordered a court of inquiry into the encounter.

The slain trio were identified as Abrar Ahmed, 25; Imtiyaz Ahmed, 20, and Mohammed Ibrar, 16. On October 3, after around 70 days, the bodies of three labourers were exhumed.

The bodies were later handed over to the families who had reached Kashmir from Rajouri through the Mughal road. The bodies of three labourers were later buried at their native places in Rajouri district as per the families of the slain.

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