Army officer booked for civilian killings in Kashmir

Srinagar, May 29 (IANS) An Indian Army major and four other people, including a Territorial Army soldier, have been booked for the murder of three civilians in a staged gun battle in Jammu and Kashmir April 30, police said Saturday.

The army said it will initiate a probe. The state government has already ordered a magisterial probe.

The bodies of the three civilians — Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmad Lone and Muhammad Shafi Lone — were Friday exhumed from a graveyard in Kalaroos village of Kupwara district and identified by their relatives in the presence of a magistrate.

Bashir Ahmad, a former special police officer, and his accomplice Fayaz Ahmad were arrested for the disappearance of the three men belonging to Nadihal village in Rafiabad of north Kashmir.

An angry mob in Nadihal village Saturday torched Lone’s house.

Abbas Hussain Shah, a soldier of the Territorial Army, who is the kingpin of the conspiracy, was also arrested Saturday, police said.

‘Sustained interrogation of Lone and Ahmad unravelled the entire conspiracy. Abbas Hussain Shah, a jawan of the territorial army, is the kingpin of this nefarious conspiracy,’ a senior police officer told IANS here.

‘He, on the behest of an army officer (major), conspired with Lone, Ahmad and Abdul Hamid Bhat to lure the three civilians. They were promised a wage of Rs.2,000 per day for working as porters for the army in the Machil sector of the Line of Control (LOC) where the unit of the involved major was posted,’ he said.

‘After they fell into Hussain’s trap, the three civilians were taken to Sogam village in Kupwara where a vehicle was waiting for them to be taken to the LOC for the fake gun battle,’ he added.

Police sources also said police had become suspicious of the genuineness of the LOC gunfight in Machil sector April 30 when the bodies of the three slain people were handed over to them for burial.

‘All the three had bullet wounds on their heads which is highly unlikely in a gunfight between the security forces and the militants. All of them were dressed in summer clothes, which is not possible for militants crossing the snowbound LOC where the gunfight was claimed to have occurred,’ the police officer said.

The army claimed to have killed three terrorists in Machil sector of the LOC after foiling an infiltration bid April 30.

It was also claimed that a large quantity of arms and ammunition had been recovered from the slain terrorists.