Srinagar: After indictment of its own men, the army has begun Summary of Evidence, a step before a possible court martial, in July's Amshipura encounter in South Kashmir's Shopian district during which all civilian witnesses would also be cross examined, officials said here. The Court of Inquiry, which completed its probe earlier this month, had found "prima facie" evidence that troops had "exceeded" powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the July 18 encounter in which three men were killed. Following this, the army had initiated disciplinary proceedings.
The officials said some of the civilian witnesses would also be called for cross examination which included those who act as "informers" for the local army who may have possibly waylaid the troops in the wrong direction. "You see every aspect of this needs to be probed thoroughly. The army is committed to bring the inquiry to its logical conclusion but every angle needs to be probed," a senior army official said on condition of anonymity.
According to the rules, the case details will be examined under various provisions of law during the Summary of Evidence against the erring Army personnel following which Court Martial proceedings will be initiated. The Army has been maintaining high standards of transparency and punishing officials whenever rules are violated, the officials said. During the Summary of Evidence, the proof in relation to a charge against an accused, taken down in writing including any statement made by the accused and any further statement of evidence, is taken on record.
On July 18, the Army claimed that three militants were killed in Amshipura village in the higher reaches of south Kashmir's Shopian district. Committed to ethical conduct during anti-militancy operations, the Army initiated a Court of Inquiry after social media reports indicated that the three men were from Rajouri district in Jammu and had gone missing at Amshipura. The probe was completed in a record four weeks and Summary of Evidence was initiated. The families of the three men from Rajouri who worked as labourers in Shopian had also filed a police complaint. In a brief statement, the Army had said on September 18 that the Shopian operation contravened the dos and don'ts of the Chief of Army Staff approved by the Supreme Court.
"The inquiry has brought out certain prima facie evidence indicating that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and the Do's and Don'ts of Chief of Army Staff as approved by the Supreme Court have been contravened. "Consequently, the competent disciplinary authority has directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found prima-facie answerable," the statement had said.
The evidence collected indicates the three unidentified terrorists killed in Amshipura were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohammed Ibrar who hailed from Rajouri which was subsequently confirmed through a DNA test. Taking a serious note of the incident, the army had published a general advertisement in local newspapers, asking people with any "credible information" about the case to step forward and share it with the court of inquiry instituted by the Army. Relatives of the three youths, belonging to Dhar Sakri village in Kotranka of Rajouri area in Poonch, had lodged a written missing persons report in the local police station after they lost contact with them on July 17. The three were working as labourers in apple and walnut orchards in Amshipura. The missing report will be closed as now the three youths have been identified.
The relatives said in their complaint that they had last spoken to the three on July 16 when they informed their families they had got a room to stay in Amshipura. The room was the site of the encounter two days later, the complaint stated. Police, meanwhile, are probing the three youths' call details and why they jumped out of a window when an operation was launched at their rented accommodation, besides their presence around strategic places in Shopian since their arrival.