Srinagar: The Army has relieved a Colonel of his command and suspended a Major for their alleged involvement in the killing of three youths in a fake encounter in April in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Commanding Officer (CO) of 4 Rajput Regiment Colonel D K Pathania has been relieved of his command while Major Upinder of the 4 Rajput Regiment, who was named as the main accused by the J&K Police in the 30 April Machil encounter case, has also been removed from active duty.
“The Colonel has been removed from the command. The second officer has been suspended as of now and the inquiry has been ordered,” Lieutenant General B S Jaiswal, chief of Army’s Northern Command, said on Sunday.
”Commanding Officer Colonel D K Pathania has been asked not to leave the Valley till inquiry is completed in the alleged fake encounter,“ Army sources said. He was about to leave the Valley and join his regiment which has been relocated to Meerut.
“Major Upinder has been named main accused in the fake encounter and he too has been removed from active duty”, they said.
General Jaiswal said, “It (inquiry) will be totally transparent and the truth will be there.... The inquiry is on.
“Our genuine concern is to be transparent. This is the first step. And this should be the indicator that subsequently we will be coming out with the truth,” he said.
The Army had ordered an inquiry into the killing after the police filed a report accusing the Major of entering into a criminal conspiracy with some locals to eliminate the three youths by labelling them as terrorists.
This is the second time that the Army has removed a serving officer from a command. Earlier, Colonel Gloria of 33 Rashtriya Rifles was removed for allegedly killing three boys who were playing cricket in a playground in Dudipora-Handwara in February 2006, three months after he had taken over the reins of the counter-insurgency unit.
The sources said that the police inquiry relied heavily on the statement of a trooper of 161 battalion of the Territorial army in Gauntmullah Baramulla who told investigators about the alleged involvement of the Major.
Soldier Abbass was among three persons including a former Special Police Officer arrested by the police in the Machil fake encounter case.
Meanwhile, the police have recorded the statements of the parents of the three slain youths after taking them to Kupwara.
Earlier, chief judicial magistrate Sopore had recorded the statements of close relatives of the three youths.