An Indian army officer and two of his associates have been accused of planting weapons on the bodies of three labourers who they killed in Kashmir to make it look as though they were armed fighters.
Captain Bhoopendra Singh has been charged with murder, conspiracy and other offences, the police statement said. He is now in military detention. The two civilian who were with him at the time, are in police custody.
A police statement issued late on Sunday said the officer and two others “planted illegally acquired weapons and material on their dead bodies after stripping them of their identities and tagged them as hardcore terrorists in possession of war-like stores.”
The accused army captain has also been charged with deliberately providing false information to his colleagues and seniors in the army.
The men’s families in the remote mountainous area of Rajouri identified them one month later from photographs that circulated on social media. The families said the three had only been looking for work in Kashmir’s apple orchards.
Javaid Ahmad, 25, whose younger brother, Ibrar Ahmad, was among the three people killed said that the family has “lost peace and sleep in search of justice.”
“One of them was my brother and the other two were cousins. We don’t know whether we will get justice or not,” said Ahmad, who lives in Rajouri district of Jammu.
Human rights activists in Kashmir point out that in the past army has killed many civilians in staged gun battle after terming them “rebels” to claim monetary benefits and medals.
In 2010, a police investigation revealed the army killed three civilians in a staged gun battle at Machil area near the Line of Control in Kupwara district. The three civilians were lured to Machil and killed there before being labelled “militants” by the army.
Tens of thousands of people, mainly civilians, have died in the decades-old conflict.