Jammu/Srinagar: In a major embarrassment for the army and the Jammu and Kashmir government, a man killed in an alleged 12-hour gun-battle on Sunday and touted to be a top Lashkar-e-Taiba militant has been found to be a mentally challenged civilian. Two security personnel have been charged with the murder.
The police have registered a case of murder against a soldier of the Territorial Army and a policeman who were allegedly responsible for the killing of the civilian in Surankote area of Poonch district Sunday.
The police said a case under section 302 has been registered against Noor Hussain of the Territorial Army and police personnel Abdul Majeed, who gave “wrong information to the army and police about the presence of a Pakistani militant and Divisional Commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba Abu Usman. But the person killed turned out to be a civilian”.
A spokesman of the army said that the initial investigations have revealed that the two had planned this murder in order to get cash reward.
There is a system in which the reward money is given to soldiers and police personnel who kill militants.
Further investigations into the case are on.
Sources said that the civilian, believed to be mentally challenged, was picked up from a village in Rajouri district and taken to the forests in Surankote area of the neighbouring district of Poonch and killed in a staged shootout. The officials were tight-lipped over the exact identity of the civilian killed.
Earlier, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, speaking to a news channel, admitted that the gun-battle in a forested district of Poonch, some 220 km north of Jammu, may not have been real.
He said the army acted on the information and launched an operation. “Subsequently, information came to light that the person is not who the Territorial Army and the SPO claimed him to be,” he said. The chief minister said the accused have “confessed to have passed on faulty information on the basis of which the operation was launched”.
“Both have been charged under Section 302 amounting to murder and we will ensure that the law follows its own course,” he said.
The army had claimed that Lashkar-e-Taiba’s divisional commander Abu Usmaan was killed in a 12-hour shootout in Surankote forests of Poonch – which lies close to the border with Pakistan. The army also claimed to have recovered some arms and ammunition from the shootout site.
Asked how it was possible to recover arms if the slain person was a civilian, Abdullah said, “There are a lot of details that will have to be gone into. Clearly more questions are raised than answers are available right now. We will get into all the other circumstances as to how the operation could take place against somebody who was not a militant.”
Meanwhile, the army has also launched a probe, according to a spokesperson of 16 Corps of the Indian Army. “A soldier of the Territorial Army and Special Operation Group of the police had supplied wrong information to us, on the basis of which it was claimed that a terrorist has been killed in the encounter,” the spokesperson told IANS.
Sources said that the post mortem identification revealed that the victim was a mentally-challenged civilian.