Army Captain led Shopian operation with ‘eye on ₹20 lakh prize money’

Army jawans stand guard near encounter site in Amshipora area of Shopian on July 18, 2020. File   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Army Captain Bhoopinder Singh alias Major Basheer Khan of 62 Rashtriya Rifles had taken a lead in engaging the three “militants”, who turned out to be civilians later, in a “staged” gunfight in Shopian in July 2020, “with an eye on the prize money of ₹20 lakh”. 

According to the police chargesheet, four out of 75 witnesses in the case in their statements recalled how the Captain “initiated a few bursts of live ammunition even before a cordon was laid” and others joined him very late in engaging the suspected militants.

Also read: Shopian encounter: Army to complete recording of statements in 10 days

Those whose statements were quoted in the 1,400-page chargesheet included Subedar Garu Ram, Lance Naik Ravi Kumar, and Sepoys Ashwini Kumar and Yougesh, all part of Captain Singh’s team. 

Two civilians — Tabish Ahmad, a resident of Shopian, and Bilal Ahmad, a resident of Pulwama — who acted as sources for the Army in providing the tip-off, were also part of the operation and provided a cover to the Captain, the chargesheet said.

Also read: AFSPA mandate exceeded in Shopian encounter: Army probe

“They (Captain and two civilians) purposefully destroyed evidence of real crime that they have committed and also have been purposefully projecting false information as part of a criminal conspiracy hatched between them with motive to grab prize money of ₹20 lakh,” the chargesheet said.

Later, false information to mislead the senior officer was furnished to lodge a First Information Report, it pointed out.

Also read: Army starts investigation into July 18 Shopian encounter

The Captain, who was heading the operation in Amshipora village in Shopian, later showed two pistols with two magazines, four empty pistol cartridges, 15 live cartridges and 15 empty cartridges of AK series weapon and other objectionable items as recoveries from the encounter site, it said. 

During the police investigation, the Special Investigation Team “recreated all the scenes of crime” and “the route used after meeting the victims and the place where the victims were murdered”. 

“All the circumstantial evidence, which includes two vehicles, the service rifle of Captain Bhoopendra Singh were seized,” it said. 

The police have already submitted a chargesheet against the Captain and two others in the case, which saw three civilians — Abrar Ahmed (25), Imtiyaz Ahmed (20) and Mohammed Ibrar (16) — dead. They were all labourers from Rajouri. 

The police have already slapped charges under Sections 302, 364, 201, 436, 120-B, 182 of the IPC and Section 7/25 IA Act against Captain Singh and the two civilians. 

An order has already been issued by the court asking the Army authorities “to give their opinion whether the accused Captain be tried by the Criminal Court of ordinary jurisdiction or by the Court Martial”. 

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 2:54:48 AM |

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