Amnesty Jan 24:Human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, Friday said the Indian army’s deceleration of ‘zero tolerance for human rights violations’ in Jammu and Kashmir ‘ring hollow after its decision to close the Pathribal fake encounter case’.
“The Indian army’s recent statements declaring “zero tolerance for human rights violations” in Jammu & Kashmir ring hollow after its decision to close the Pathribal fake encounter case,” Christine Mehta, spokesperson, Amnesty International India said.
The CBI, which had initially investigated the killings of five Kashmir civilians in Pathribal in 2000, had said that it had found sufficient evidence to show that the killings were extrajudicial executions and “cold-blooded murder”.
In 2006, it charged five soldiers of the Indian army with offences including criminal conspiracy, murder and kidnapping.
In 2012, the Supreme Court gave the army the option to prosecute the five accused soldiers in a court-martial, and the army accepted.
“The army’s decision to conduct its own investigation, which it now claims did not find sufficient evidence against the accused soldiers, is baffling,” Mehta said, adding: “The army’s closure of the case brazenly disregards the findings of the CBI and the rights of the families of the victims.”
The AI spokesperson said that the Government of India is obligated under national and international law to investigate human rights violations in a swift, independent and impartial manner. “Authorities must take cognizance of the army’s failure to prosecute its personnel for serious human rights violations,” it said.
The statement added that authorities must ensure that those soldiers suspected of criminal responsibility, as established in a previous independent investigation conducted by the CBI, are promptly brought to trial.
“Delayed or incomplete investigations, or failure to try the accused in a fair, impartial and independent court, violates the rights of the victims’ families to justice, and contributes to the prevailing climate of impunity in J&K,” the statement concludes.