Defence Ministry Trashes JK Police Reports

Defence Ministry Trashes JK Police Reports

13 May 2012
Rising Kashmir
Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: Ministry of Defence has received 24 cases from the State government in last five years seeking prosecution under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), but it has cited “faulty” police investigations for denying sanctions in most of the cases. Spelling out the reasons, the MoD has said J&K police has doctored the statements, drawing conclusions under pressure from militant sympathizers. The ministry has also pointed to inconsistencies in witness statements. It has raised questions on police investigations going to the extent of alleging that the cops were involved in custodial deaths of individuals for which the army men have been incriminated by state authorities. The Ministry has ridiculed police procedures, stating that it has cited “lack of evidence” in some cases to conclude that a particular army man was involved in crime. But the army has not mentioned whether they have carried out a parallel inquiry to counter the police investigations. The reasons for not allowing action against the erring troopers have been given in reply to a RTI application filed by the Coalition of Civil Society. The RTI plea sought information in respect of 24 cases forwarded by the state home department seeking sanction under AFSPA from 2007 to 2011. According to Ministry of Defence, five cases are under examination while the requests for 19 cases have been rejected “as it was found that no prima facie case was made out against the accused army personnel”. CASES: Sanction was denied in the case of Major Arora who was booked by police under FIR No 08-97 for committing rape. The MoD said there were a number of inconsistencies in the statement of witnesses. “The allegation was lodged by the wife of a dreaded Hizbul Mujahideen militant. The lady was forced to lodge false allegations,” the MoD reply reads. In case of Major R S Athreye and Captain Awasthi, who were booked for torture leading to death under FIR NO 30 of 2000, the MoD said the sanction was denied as the FIR and the statement of witnesses contradict each other. “The unilateral conclusions reached by police appeared to have been made under pressure from terrorists and sympathizers to blame and malign the image of army.” In the case of Captain Gorpala Singh, who was also indicted in torture leading to death by police under FIR no 01-94, the army said it denied sanction because the individual was released after questioning. “The FIR was lodged after 20 months from the date of operation. The individuals named in the complaint were never borne on the strength of the unit.” In another case involving torture to death, Major Vikash and Captain Raju were incriminated under FIR no. 73 of 2002, but the ministry alleged that the victim died in police custody. “The individual was apprehended in a bonafide military operation and handed over to police. The individual expired after four days in police custody. Army involvement was not established in killing of the individual.” In a similar case involving Captain Piyara Singh Toor under FIR no 127-03, the MoD said the sanction was denied since the individual was handed over to police station Poonch on August 24, 2003 in medically fit condition with in the laid down limit of 24 hours and individual died on September 22, 2003. “That is one month after his handing over to police,” reads the MoD reply. Major GK Batila too was held responsible for death in custody under FIR number 20-2000. “The allegations are baseless and framed with malafide intention to tarnish the image of the army,” the ministry claimed. In a fake encounter case involving Major Raghwan who was booked under FIR no-2000, the Defence Ministry said the post mortem report of the body reflected no injuries except the scratch on right wrist. The ministry further added that the successive reinvestigation of the case by police has recorded “doctored statements of the witnesses to falsely implicate the officer and Junior Commissioned Officer”. Major Aman alias Mushtaq Ahmad also stands involved in the death of an individual under custody under FIR 30 of 2000. The MoD claimed that his involvement is not even prima facie established. “Hence the sanction was denied.” Major Ganpati was indicted for staging fake encounter by police under FIR 80-97. The MoD sanction was denied “since there was contradiction in the investigation in the case by the police twice with a gap of 8-9 years”. Subedar Surinder was indicted by police in a similar crime under FIR 64-2003. “The individual killed was a militant from whom arms and ammunition were recovered. No reliable and tangible evidence has been referred to in the investigation report,” the ministry claims. The police also indicted Major S Bhattacharya unde FIR no 160-2001 for enacting the encounter. “The individual killed was a militant from whom arms and ammo were recovered.” On May 4, Rising Kashmir reported that only one army man has been prosecuted in Jammu and Kashmir during the past 22 years while the Ministry of Defence had received 44 cases for sanction for prosecution under AFSPA from 1990 to 2011. Earlier, J&K government had stated it had sought sanction for prosecution of troopers under AFSPA in 50 cases. The government had applied for prosecution for sanction under AFSPA for 31 cases from Ministry of Defence and 19 cases from Ministry of Home Affairs.