Author: Saadut
•12:27 PM

Four days after Army had shot dead 25 year old Hilal in a fake encounter in north Kashmir Bandipora, the police have claimed to crack the case. It has been reported that ‘the main accused Muhammad Ramzan Bhat (Army informer) had struck a deal with 27 RR (Indian forces), for helping them in trapping a militant, allegedly in exchange for money. After inking the deal, he chose Hilal Ahmed Dar as the poor boy was tall with long hair and a beard, a perfect resemblance for a ‘foreign combatant’. The plan of this “staged encounter,” was put in place four months ago.

As per local media reportsThe accused informer is reported to have revealed “I (army informer) met him (victim) on many occasions and told him that I have a close affiliation with militants and he should meet them. It took me four months to convince him,”
 On Tuesday, July 24th the informer Bhat called Hilal and told him that a meeting has been fixed during night and he should come alone. On the same evening Bhat informed 27-RR camp that militants will come to Ahstangoo from Aloosa and they can lay an ambush,” he said. 

As per the police version, informer Bhat revealed that he asked Hilal to reach Ashtangoo Halmathpora. However, Hilal asked his close friend Nazir Ahmed to accompany him. “Bhat gave two rusted weapons to Hilal and his friend (Nazir) and they left for Ahstangoo. As soon as the trio reached there, Hilal inquired from Bhat where the militants are. Bhat asked him to move forward and meet them. As he walked a few steps soldiers of 27- RR, who had laid an ambush, opened fire, killing Hilal on the spot. Bhat knew from where the shots would hit Hilal as he fled from the spot. Nazir also managed to escape,”

Police may have shown exemplary speed in uncovering this fake encounter but on close scrutiny many links and pieces of this puzzle seem missing. Have these details been over looked with intent or were they deemed not important enough?

1.      1. While the report claims that he was killed in a fake ambush while he being led to the forests by an Army informer, locals claimed that His hands seemed to have been tied before he was fired upon. How can you tie somebody before killing him in a real ambush?

2.      2. Army claimed that he died on spot in the said ‘encounter’ while locals claimed there were torture marks on Hilal’s body suggesting that he was captured before his death.” (The torture marks were visible on the press photos too). How can Army have claimed to kill him in an encounter when visible torture marks pointed to something else? Ironically the latest police reports in media do not mention anything about the torture marks. Why?

3.       3. The police report claims that ‘the Army informer Muhammed Ramzan Lone alias Rameez, obtained two weapons from Army in the month of March. “Later, Ramzan handed over the weapons to Hilal (victim) as he lured him to join militancy after seeing his inclination.”’. Why did the Army give two weapons to the informer? And that too two rusted, un-operational weapons? If the weapons were really given by the army, did the giving of two weapons to the informer not point to intent of luring youth for a fake encounter? Since the weapons have been reported to be rusted and dead, would the rusted weapons not only have exposed the informer but also given him no firepower to defend himself if and when being exposed?

4.       4. Since both the weapons that reportedly had been given by the Army to their informer were rusted and beyond any operational use. How could the informer have lured two innocents with rusted and scrap weapons, which could have been easily identified as metal junk?

5.       5. Immediately after the encounter an Army spokesman had claimed “……At about 2345h, the ambush party noticed suspicious movement.  On being challenged, the ambush party of 27 RR was fired upon. A brief fire fight ensued.  Later during the search of the site, one body and AK-47 along with ammunition were recovered.  The body was later identified as Hilal Ahmed Dar.”  A ‘brief fire fight’ with a rusted and dead weapons with no ammo is unheard of and that too when locals already claimed that the victims hands had been tied. How can you fire with hands tied behind the back (even if rusted weapons would magically come to firepower life)? Ironically the same claim of ‘arms and ammunition recovered’ had been also made earlier in the Machil and Pathribal fake encounters, which later proved a blatant lie.

6.       6. As per the police report As he walked a few steps soldiers of 27- RR, who had laid an ambush, opened fire, killing Hilal on the spot. Bhat (Army informer) knew from where the shots would hit Hilal as he fled from the spot.”  How could the Army informer have known the location and aim of the army shooters in the pitch dark of these forests, when both the victim and the informer were reportedly ‘walking together’ to the ambush site? Was the Army tagging and aiming the victim and the informer separately while they were walking together, in this dark?  

7.       7. “The next day Bhat (informer) went to 27-RR camp to seek shelter. However, Army refused to allow him inside and he was left with no other choice than to surrender before the Police,” (same report). If earlier the Army had contested that the encounter was genuine, why should it have denied shelter to its informer the very next day? Was the informer being made a scapegoat to shield the officers involved in this killing?

 Immediately after the incident Army had ruled out any probe into the ‘encounter’ killing (which was later overturned by the Defense Minister). Why the initial reluctance by the Army for any probe into this incident? Of course even if the probe had been held, Kashmiri’s were well aware of the futility of all such probes; Pathribal, Machil, Uri, Rafiabad, and countless other incidents having become examples of denial of justice. Fact is, had this fake encounter not been protested against and proved, the officers involved would have added this killing as one more cadaver to be used as a stepping stone for medals, promotions and rewards. The same officers could have been decorated on some national day, merely on the shroud count of innocents. Soon this incident like others will be consigned to the dust of state forgetfulness, to obscurity. Soon this incident will join countless others as a mere record, as a statistic, as just ‘one of those incidents’ in the ‘probe limbo’. In a country where even the highest systems of Justice fail to deliver for Kashmiris (consigned to endlessness of Pathribal likes), what do you expect from a trigger happy jackboot force?

In a place where adults in Shopian were made to drown in ankle deep waters, a rusted and a dead weapon without ammo can also be fired from hands that are tied behind victims back.

Everything is possible in Kashmir, everything.

30th July, 2012