Delhi Court Acquits 2 Pakistanis10 August 2011
New Delhi: A Delhi court Wednesday acquitted two Pakistani nationals, suspected to be Lashkar-e-Toiba militants, of the charge of their involvement in the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora in Jammu and Kashmir 11 years ago. Muhammad Suhail and Waseem Ahmed, who hailed from Sialkot and Gujranwala in Pakistan respectively, were acquitted by Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja as the prosecution failed to produce evidence against them. The trial of the case was transferred from a court in Kathua to the Delhi court. Around 13 witnesses were produced by the prosecution to support its case for the alleged involvement of militants of Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Taiba. However, some of the witnesses had turned hostile during the recording of evidence and refused to identify the accused in the court. Nanak Singh, who had lost his son Gurmeet Singh and brother Dilbari Singh in the massacre, had said he could not see the assailants as he was unconscious. An Anantnag resident, he had said he cannot say whether the accused persons, present in the court, were among the assailants. Karamjeet Singh, another Sikh from Chattisinghpora village, had failed to identify the accused in the court, saying he did not know the persons who opened fire on the villagers nor did he know the place they belonged to. Karamjeet was one of the Sikhs who was made to stand in a queue in front of a Gurudwara at the village by the assailants who collected all the male members on the pretext of launching a manhunt for militants and opened indiscriminate fire on them. Gurmukh Singh, another Sikh resident of Chattisinghpora, who was also one of the witnesses of the prosecution, refused to identify the accused saying he could not see them. He had, however, said a total of 15 to 20 gunmen came in army uniform and killed the people after forcing them to stand in a line near the Gurudwara. THE MASSACRE The massacre of 35 Sikhs was done on the evening March 20, 2000. A group of unidentified gunmen, numbers around 20 and dressed in army fatigues had entered the Chattisinghpora in Islamabad. They had ordered all Sikh men and boys to assemble at the village Gurdwara and systematically shot and killed 54 of them. Many others were injured in the brutal attack. Five days after the massacre, Army had claimed to have killed five militants involved in the Chattisinghpora murders, the victims turned out to be innocent civilians. The case had gone to the state Court but it was challenged by the army citing Armed Special Forces Power Act enjoyed by them. Ultimately it went to the Supreme Court in November 2008. The five Army officials against whom charges were framed for killing the civilians and dubbing them as militants were Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt Col BP Singh, Major Saurabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Junior Commissioned Officer Adrees Khan. Irked by the Centre's diametrically diverse views on army and para-military forces' immunity from criminal prosecution in fake encounter killings including Pathribal, the Supreme Court had on June 16, this year asked government of India to spell out its position on the controversial AFSPA. “You cannot say that an army man can enter any home commit a rape and say he enjoys immunity as it has been done in discharge of official duties,' the apex court had remarked.