Juma Khan

“The night they took my father, I was sleeping upstairs. I remember hearing the army personnel barge in and ask for someone to show them the way through the fields. My father was not very well, so I ran downstairs and offered to show them. But the army officer said: ‘No, don’t take him, the children are too young. Take the father.”

– Abdul Rasheed Khan , Juma Khan’s Son

Juma Khan was one of five alleged “militants” who were allegedly extra-judicially executed near Pathribal village on 25 March 2000 by personnel of the 7 Rashtriya Rifles in a staged “encounter”, and whose bodies were subsequently buried in a forest nearby.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – India’s premier investigating agency –  which initially investigated the killings (including identifying the buried bodies through forensic tests and subsequently establishing that the individuals killed were not associated with militancy) said the incident was ‘cold-blooded murder’.  In 2006 they charged five soldiers with offences including criminal conspiracy, murder and kidnapping.

Utilising Section 7 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the army blocked prosecution, arguing that the case required government sanction because the accused were on “active duty,” and all actions were done in “good faith”. The Supreme Court upheld the requirement that no investigation or criminal proceeding could be initiated against army personnel without the central government’s permission and gave the army the option of handing over the accused army personnel to the civilian courts, or trying them by court-martial.

The army ultimately chose to handle the case within the military justice system and announced that it would begin proceedings on 20 September 2012.  On 24 January 2014, nearly 18 months after the Supreme Court order, army authorities dismissed the charges against the five accused personnel citing “lack of evidence.” Abdul Rasheed Khan told Amnesty International India that none of the families were informed directly by the army of the outcome of the military proceedings, but only learnt of the development on 24 January 2014 when the army’s dismissal was reported by the media.

According to the closure report filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Srinagar, the army never conducted a trial.  Instead, the army dismissed the case under Rule 24 of the Army Rules, 1954 after a pre-trial procedure called the summary of evidence (see below for description of this process). There is no apparent possibility for the victims’ families to appeal or review the decision reached through the military justice system.  The CBI report is not available in the public domain. Despite several attempts–including talking to the lead investigator on the case for the CBI and the defence counsel–Amnesty International India was unable to obtain a copy of the report.

THE PETITION

Fifteen Kashmiri families who lost their loved ones in cases of human rights violations by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are urging the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defense to ensure the right to truth for victims, their families and affected communities and ensure that they have access to full disclosure about human rights violations. The families want both the ministries to:

1. Make informartion available related to all 15 cases highlighted by Amnesty International India on this digital platform.

2. Make information pertaining to the proceedings, verdicts and sentences of courts-martial and security force courts publicly accessible including through the Right to Information Act, 2005 and by other means including an online database

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