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Army's closing of Pathribal killings case criticized in Kashmir

IANS  |  Srinagar 

The Indian Army's decision to close the 2000 Pathribal alleged staged shooting case has evoked strong reaction from different quarters inside and outside Jammu and Kashmir.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Friday the decision was extremely disappointing and his government would explore legal options to challenge the decision and seek justice for the victims of the incident.

Opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) patron and former chief minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, said the decision would further increase the mistrust the local people harbor against established institutions in the country.

The PDP has rejected the army's decision terming it as "a miscarriage of justice".

Awami Itihaad Party chief and sitting legislator Engineer Rashid said the army's decision was not surprising.

"There is nothing new in it and it is not surprising. We all know that it is the policy of Indian government to protect killers in the interest of their country. Pathribal is not the only incident where killers were given clean chit. There are numerous incidents that occurred in Kashmir and every time killers were set free," he claimed.

Tanvir Sadiq, political advisor to the chief minister, said: "This is an issue which has been resonating in the Valley and every citizen was watching these proceedings carefully. Now, what the CBI says is open to the whole of the world and when they in their report suggest that this has been a cold blooded murder, how can anybody close the case and suggest otherwise?

Another local legislator, Hakim Muhammad Yasin of the Peoples Democratic Front said: "Pathribal is not a single case where justice was strangulated but there are so many incidents where culprits were given a free hand. How can we expect justice in fake Machil encounter now when after so many years of proceedings Pathribal file was closed?"

International human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, issued a statement Friday against the army's decision to close the case against five soldiers accused in the killing of five locals, termed foreign terrorists.

Christine Mehta, researcher with Amnesty India said: "The Indian army's decision to close a case of alleged extrajudicial executions by five of its soldiers, despite an independent investigation finding evidence against them, reinforces the culture of impunity in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Given the evidence that existed against these soldiers, the army's decision to conduct a new probe into the case is baffling.

"But perhaps it isn't surprising that the army, after deciding to investigate its own alleged abuses, has given itself a clean chit," she said, adding the army's recent statements declaring zero tolerance for human rights violations "ring hollow after this decision".

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First Published: Fri, January 24 2014. 23:52 IST