Janglat Mandi ‘fake’ encounter case hearing today

Srinagar, Apr 11: As the Janglat Mandi ‘fake encounter’ case involving Lt Gen Bikram Singh, a top contender for the post of Army Chief, could not come up for hearing Tuesday due to paucity of time, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court decided to hear it on Wednesday.
Court of Justice Hasnain Massodi listed the case for hearing on Wednesday following the submission of senior counsel K S Johal, representing Union of India, that the case should be listed earliest.
The High Court on February 15 had given one month’s time to Defence Ministry to submit its response to a petition filed by Zaituna who is alleging that her son was killed in a fake encounter in 2001 involving Lt Gen Bikram Singh and later branded as a foreign militant.
The state government and SSP Islamabad (Anantnag), who are the other respondents in the case, have already filed their objections to the petition, pleading it be dismissed as it was not maintainable. The SSP Islamabad, in his report, denied the contention of the petitioners that they had approached the police authorities of the district for many years seeking reinvestigation of the case. Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh, who was then a Brigadier commanding the Rashtriya Rifles in south Kashmir, was reportedly injured in a militant attack that left four persons, including an army officer and two civilians dead. The dead included Colonel J P Jam, the then Commanding Officer of a local RR unit, Sepoy Ganesh Kumar, Muhammad Shafi son of Abdul Rasheed of Hazratbal Islamabad (Anantnag) and Abdul Ahad Sheikh son of Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh of Janglat Mandi Islamabad (Anantnag).
Another person was killed in the retaliatory action of the army and police later ‘identified’ him as Ghulam Mohuiddin Ramzie alias Mateen Chacha, a resident of Pakistan.
Zaituna, a resident of Kalaroos in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, filed the petition before the High Court last year through her counsel ZA Qureshi seeking reinvestigation of the case on the plea that the alleged militant was her son Abdullah Bhat, who was not involved in militancy.
The petitioners also seek directions to the police to identify the grave where body of the ‘foreign militant’ that forces claimed to have killed is lying so that DNA test of the body could be conducted to ascertain its lineage.
The police report also rubbished the claim that the encounter at Janglat Mandi was fake saying the death of two civilians, an army officer and a soldier were facts to the contrary.
On October 13, 2011, J&K High Court served notices to Ministry of Defence and state government asking them to file objection within a week. Earlier, a Single Bench of High Court had directed District and Sessions Judge Islamabad (Anantnag) to submit all the records pertaining to the case in the court before October 18.
Pertinently, a group of retired officers and bureaucrats has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Supreme Court to prevent Lt General Bikram Singh from taking Army’s top post.
The PIL filed by a group of retired officers and bureaucrats headed by Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas, who retired as the Navy Chief, states: “In March 2001, a 60-year-old man was killed in an encounter by the Army in Anantnag and Lieutenant General Singh was then a Brigadier heading the 1 Sector Rashtriya Rifles headquartered in Anantnag. He was injured in the encounter and was given a gallantry medal. A colonel and another soldier were also killed in the encounter.”
“The Army claimed that the man who was killed was a wanted foreign militant. In court, however, the family of the deceased had argued that Abdullah Bhat was a daily wage earner,” says the PIL.
The petition further states that Lt General Singh failed to take action against officers who were involved in sexual harassment and rape when they were posted at Congo in 2008 as part of the UN peace-keeping mission.
The PIL alleges that the Lt General’s promotion is politically influenced. It says “a person holding high office should be able to act independently and impartially.”

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