Jammu, Jan 24 IANS | 9 months ago

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Friday expressed shock over the army's decision to close a case of killing five locals after branding them foreign guerrillas.

"Extremely disappointed with the decision of the army... Will ask the law department and advocate general to examine options," Abdullah tweeted.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed a charge-sheet against five soldiers, four of them officers, accused of gunning down the five at Pathribal in Anantnag district in 2000.

Abdullah wondered how a serious matter such as the alleged framing and staging of a fake gun battle could be closed, especially after the CBI had filed a charge-sheet against the accused.

"A matter as serious as Pathribal can't be closed or wished away," he said.

The army said Thursday it had followed a 2012 Supreme Court decision and probed the incident that took place in the Pathribal forests March 25, 2000.

The military had claimed that all the five who died were foreign militants from whom weapons were recovered.

After the locals contested the army version and claimed that innocents were killed, the state government had the bodies exhumed and ordered a CBI probe.

The Rajputana Rifles men named in the case were Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt. Col. Brijinder Pratap Singh, Majors Saurabh Sharma and Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan.

The CBI presented a charge-sheet against the five accused in a Srinagar court in 2007, saying the deaths were "cold blooded murder".

The army challenged the decision to order a CBI probe in the Supreme Court pleading that the CBI cannot act against it without permission from the central government as per the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The army said Thursday: "Consequent to CBI investigation and the Supreme Court order, the army had taken over the alleged Pathribal case from the court of chief judicial magistrate Srinagar in June 2012."

The statement said the case had been closed as no prima facie evidence was found against the five army personnel.

(Posted on 24-01-2014)

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