HC declines to re-investigate encounter involving Army chief

HC declines to re-investigate encounter involving Army chief

19 February 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: The State High Court today declined to re-investigate the 'Janglat Mandi encounter' involving Army chief, General Bikram Singh, and said that the encounter was neither fake nor stage managed. Justice Hasnain Masoodi while disposing off the writ petition filed by one Ziatoon Begam regarding Janglat Mandi, Anantnag encounter of 2001, in his judgement said 'The matter' therefore, doesn't at least at this stage, call for a direction for re-investigation of case.' The court on the genuineness of the encounter said 'the very fact that a senior Army officer was killed and Commander, Sector I, Rashtriya Rifles, was amongst injured, may not lend support to the assertion that the encounter was fake or stage managed.' The court has, however, directed the Senior Superintendent of Police Anantnag to inquire the matter. 'The writ petition is disposed off with a direction to Senior Superintendent of Police, Anantnag to entrust the matter as directed by Deputy Inspector General of Police, South Kashmir range, Anantnag, vide his order No. Pros-Clt-11-9944 dated 9th August 2011 to a Gazetted Officer for necessary inquiry in terms of said order with reasonable dispatch unmindful and uninfluenced by the observations made by the court', says the judgement. The court has directed the SSP to submit his report to the DIG for further necessary action. The court on the issue of compensation has directed 'The question of the compensation, if any, to the petitioners, would obviously hinge of the outcome of such inquiry.' It may be mentioned here that a woman, Zaituna Begam, from Macchil area of Kupwara district last year filed a writ petition before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court at Srinagar, alleging that her son Abdullah Bhat was killed in an alleged fake encounter in Anantnag in March 2001 and later branded as a Pakistani militant 'Mateen Chacha'. The woman sought directions from the High Court for reinvestigation of the case in which five persons, including two Army men, were killed. She had also sought a compensation of Rs 60 lakh from State and Central Government for killing his son. The dead in the encounter included Colonel J P Janu, the then Commanding Officer of a local RR unit, Sepoy Ganesh Kumar, Muhammad Shafi son of Abdul Rasheed of Hazratbal-Anantnag, and Abdul Ahad Sheikh son of Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh of Janglat Mandi Anantnag. Another person was killed in the retaliatory action of the army and police later identified him as a resident of Pakistan,'Mateen Chacha'. Zaintuna alleged that the third person, who was killed in the encounter was not a Pakistani but his son Abdullah Bhat. Army chief General Bikram Singh who was then commanding 1 sector Rashtriya Rifles in South Kashmir was injured in the encounter and he was flown to New Delhi for treatment. During the arguments, the respondent counsels advocated that the petitioners ration card didn't mentione Abudllah Bhat as their family member and he was not also figuring in the voter list of the family, besides this the family had not lodged missing report in their local Police Station in district Kupwara. The court on police investigations has observed 'The least that was expected, nay, required by police Station Anantnag, was to take photograph of the dead body before burial and in case such photographs were taken at the time of post-mortem, to get the photographs duly attested by the doctor, conducting post-mortem or preserve a cell, tissue for DNA profiling. This would have ended the controversy as regards identity of deceased. ' The petitioner was represented by Advocate Zaffar Ahmad Qureshi in the High Court while Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri, Senior Advocate K S Johal and Advocate K S Wazir were representing the respondents.