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Saturday, 25 January 2014

From Today's Papers - 25 Jan 2014

Pathribal case closure shocks victims’ families
Ishfaq Tantry
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, January 24
Disappointed over the Army’s clean chit to five officers for the year 2000 Pathribal encounter, family members of the slain civilians want the case to be tried before the civil courts in Kashmir and are pinning their hopes on the state government’s intervention.

Five persons were killed on March 25, 2000, at Pathribal in South Kashmir. The Army had claimed to have killed Lashkar militants responsible for gunning down 36 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora on March 20, 2000. Relatives, who had seen their men being taken away, grew suspicious of the Army’s claims. They later identified the bodies of the “militants” as those of their men.

“I had no faith in the Army proceedings from the very beginning. Despite that, my mother and I appeared before the Army and recorded our statements at Awnatipora in March 2013. The Army’s decision to close the case has shattered all hope of getting justice,” said Rashid Khan of Anantnag’s remote Brari Angan village. His father, Jumma Khan (50), was one of the five persons killed in the “encounter. His brother was killed in the protests that followed.

“The only option for us now is to appeal to the state government to take up the issue. We will also explore legal options to try the matter before civilian courts,” said Rashid.

Giving the clean chit, the Army said the evidence recorded could not prima facie establish a case against the five officers, adding what happened in Pathribal was a joint operation by the police and the Army based on specific intelligence.

Ghulam Nabi Malik, the elder brother of slain Mohammad Yousuf Malik (38), struggled to find words to describe his sorrow. “In our case, the Army is both the killer and the judge.

If the Army says its men are innocent, then who killed my brother and other civilians? Besides, the case was also established by the CBI during its investigation”, Malik said.

The CBI had in 2006 indicted five Army personnel for staging the “fake” encounter while giving a clean chit to the state police.

The Maliks have now decided to approach the court and demand a civilian trial. “We still had faint hope when we went to record our statements before the Army at Awnatipora last year. I told them that the Army first abducted my brother and later killed him. The victims’ bodies were later exhumed and identified after performing tests,” he recalled.

Following the CBI probe and an order from the Supreme Court in March, 2012, the Army took over the case. The SC gave the Army the option to choose between a civil trial of the accused or court martial proceedings.

Shakoor Khan and his family have been left crestfallen by the decision to close the case. He was barely 20 when he lost his father Jumma Khan (38) in the firing. “Our family has been plunged into mourning once again,” said Shakoor.
 India, Pak in touch to settle trans-LoC trade stand-off
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 24
India and Pakistan are in touch on resolving the situation arising from the suspension of trans-LoC trade following the arrest by the Indian authorities of a Pakistani trucker who was trying to smuggle in drugs.

Sources here said the Indian High Commission in Islamabad was in constant touch with the Pakistan Foreign Office to settle the issue so that normal trade and travel could be resumed between the two countries. Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan has met the Pakistan Foreign Secretary and other senior officials in this connection over the past two days.

Pakistan is insisting that India release the truck driver, identified by sources as Mohammed Shafi, while New Delhi says he would face the full force of the Indian law for the crime he has committed.

Meanwhile, relatives of 27 Indian truckers, who are not being allowed by the Pakistani authorities to return home, are a worried lot since they are unable to even communicate with them.

The Indian authorities say the Pakistani trucker had sought to smuggle in 100 kg of heroin concealed in his vehicle full of nuts coming from the Pakistani side, fully aware of the fact that the driver would be solely responsible for the consignment he is carrying.

Pakistan argues that the Indian allegation is ‘unsubstantiated’ and that this is not the first time the Indian authorities have resorted to such a practice.

The incident has come days after the two countries decided to reduce barriers to cross-border trade during Pakistan’s Minister of State for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan’s visit to India.

There is some concern on whether the trade stand-off could also cast a shadow over the second edition of the ‘India Show’ in Lahore from February 14-16, being organised by FICCI to promote bilateral economic relation.

For normal trade and travel

    Sources here said the Indian High Commission in Islamabad was in constant touch with the Pakistan Foreign Office to settle the issue so that normal trade and travel could be resumed between the two countries
    Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan has met the Pakistan Foreign Secretary and other senior officials in this connection over the past two days
Defence Arsenal to Be Highlight of Mumbai R-Day Parade
The armed forces will showcase their talent and treasure of the arsenal while participating along with the Indian Coast Guard in the 64th Republic Day Parade at Marine Drive in south Mumbai on Sunday.

The Army would be represented by troops under Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa Area Headquarters. A marching contingent from the Dogra Regiment will lead the parade along with the band playing the marching tune.

"Army will also showcase different types of artillery guns, a multi-barrel rocket launcher, air defence weapon system, mortars and armoured fighting vehicles in its inventory," said a defence release.

The Indian Navy will be represented by two armed marching contingents comprising 77 personnel followed by the Naval Band, it said.

"In addition to personnel on ground, the Indian Navy will display a model of Delhi Class ship, Mobile Missile Coastal Batteries (MMCB) and Fast Interceptor Craft (FIC)," it said.

The Indian Air Force Chetak helicopter will also participate in the ceremony and fly past during the unfurling of the national flag.

In addition, there will be a marching contingent of Indian Coast Guard during the event.

Meanwhile, tight security arrangements are being made for the parade at Marine Drive, where around 2,000 policemen will be on duty.

"The Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region) will be in charge of over all security and four Deputy Commissioners of Police will assist him," said Sadanand Date, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order).

In addition to the 2,000 policemen, personnel from State Reserve Police Force, Quick Response Team, Force One, Riot Control Police and Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad will also be on duty, he said.

However, Date maintained police have not received any terror input "but we are alert" to deal with any situation.

He said prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC will be imposed in areas near the parade venue, which will be declared a no-flying zone.

Meanwhile, Vivek Phansalkar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) said they will be deploying an Additional CP and a DCP besides 285 traffic policemen.

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