WORLD / ASIA-PACIFIC
Police charge army officer, civilian for killing laborers in Indian-controlled Kashmir
Published: Dec 28, 2020 06:23 PM
Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir filed charges against an army officer and a civilian for allegedly killing three laborers and planting weapons to pass them off as militants, in a rare indictment of the military fighting an insurgency in the region.

The three laborers were killed in July after what the Indian army had initially said was a gun battle that started after militants fired at security forces in Amshipora village in southern Kashmir.

But police in Indian-controlled Kashmir, who come under the direct control of the central ­government in New Delhi, said in a press release on Sunday that their investigation showed the laborers "were murdered" by an army captain and two civilians.

"They planted illegally acquired weapons and material on their dead bodies after stripping them of their identities," police said, adding that the accused had "deliberately and purposefully" chosen not to follow standard operating procedures. 

The Indian army declined to ­comment on the police statement on Sunday.

In an update last week, an army spokesman said that it was progressing with its own investigation, adding that the army was "committed to ethical conduct of operations."

Rights groups have long accused the Indian army of violating human rights in Indian-controlled Kashmir, a Muslim majority region that is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan, but ruled in part by both. The Indian army denies all the charges.

A month after the Amshipora incident, police in Indian-controlled Kashmir were informed of missing reports for three laborers who had left the neighboring Rajouri district in July.

Police said they had confirmed the identities of victims by matching their DNA with samples collected from their families in Rajouri.

On Saturday, police filed a 1,400-page charge-sheet against the army officer and one of the civilians.

A court in Indian-controlled Kashmir has also asked army authorities whether the captain will be tried in civilian court or by ­military court martial, the police release said.
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