Army summons families of Pathribal victims

Srinagar: Summoning families of five civilians allegedly killed in a fake encounter in Pathribal in Anantnag district in March 2000, Army asked the families to depose as witnesses in the court- martial proceedings at Nagrota-Jammu on September 20. Being apprehensive about the transparency of the proceedings, families of victims decided not to participate.

“Whereas hearing of charge will be held at headquarter 16 Corps (Nagrota) on September 20 against accused persons in Pathribal encounter case. I do hereby summon and require you to attend as witness at Nagrota and bring with you relevant documents/material, if any, you shall fail at your peril,” reads the summons.

Summons were issued to wives of victims; Roshan Jan and Mirza Noori, who according to their family members are aged and ailing. Summons were also issued in favor of family members of the other three victims. The Army had also issued summons to Faqirullah Khan and Amirullah Khan, fathers of two victims. Interestingly, both have passed away before the encounter took place.

Advocate Muneer Shawl from Anantnag district court has been quoted as saying, “One of the prime witnesses, who has been following the case, Rashid Khan son of Jumma Khan hasn’t been summoned for court martial proceedings.” Shawl added the venue of the proceedings should have been close to the place of victims.

Families of victims September 19 decided to opt out of court-martial proceedings citing lack of transparency as the reason. Earlier, being apprehensive of the trial, they asked the state government to provide security.

Army September 20 reportedly initiated disciplinary proceedings against the accused army officers in the case.

Central Bureau of Investigation March 19 told the Apex Court that Pathribal encounter was “cold-blooded murder and the guilty officers deserve exemplary punishment.” Supreme Court May 1 offered eight weeks to the Army to decide whether the accused should be tried by a criminal court or be court-martialed. Army June 29 decided to opt for the latter.

As per CBI investigation, five civilians were killed and branded militants, days after 35 Sikhs were killed in Chattisinghpora-Anantnag.