Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fake encounter returns to haunt Army chief likely successor

Tipped to take over as the next Army Chief, Lt Gen Bikram Singh, has been accused of being involved in a fake encounter that took place in Anantnag district of Kashmir in 2001. A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Youth Empowering Kashmir (YES-KASHMIR) had for long been claiming that the encounter, which took place on March 1, 2001 near TB hospital Junglat Mandi in Anantnag, was fake. According to the NGO, a civilian was dubbed as a foreign militant after being killed in the encounter. The 60 year-old man, identified as Rabbani or Abdul Matin Chahcha, was killed during the incident. He was branded as a foreign militant. The old man was not a foreign militant but a local Kashmiri, Abdullah Bhat as the NGO had claimed.
According to the FIR, two persons had also sustained injuries in the encounter that took place when Lt Gen Bikram Singh was a Brigadier and headed 5 Sector Rashtriya Rifles headquarters. However, the local police has maintained that there was "no case" against Bikram Singh. The high court here on October 13, 2011 had issued notices to the state government and the Defence Ministry asking them to file their objections in a writ petition, seeking reinvestigation into the alleged fake encounter. The court ruling came after the petitioners, family of Abdullah Bhat, had sought re-probe into the case.
Incidentally, YES Kashmir had also held protests in November last year in New Delhi demanding reinvestigation into the case. Serious questions are being raised on how the 10-year old case against Lt Gen Bikram Singh has been allowed to fester in a court in Jammu and Kashmir. Though the notice has been served on the Ministry of Defence, Lt General Bikram Singh has not been given the notice as reported in the section of the media. In these three months, the MoD and the Army have not been able to reply to the court forcing the judge to issue a final notice, a reply to which is mandatory by February. It is alleged that lobbies are at work in circulating allegations against the Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh, who is poised to take over as the new Army chief after Gen VK Singh retires on May 31, 2012.
Tribune News Service 

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