Srinagar: In September 2003, Narender Singh Dangawas, commanding the BSF's 42nd Battalion, claimed to have killed Ismail Bhai, a Jaish-e-Mohammad militant from Karachi.
"Dead body inhone lay aur that body was not identified, (he brought the dead body and it was not identified)" an officer with J&K police says.
His name was recommended for the President's Police Medal. But soon after, Constable Subhash Rathod blew the whistle against his commanding officer. He said the dead man was an innocent Kashmiri and the killing was a fake encounter.
The Border Security Force does a fine job patrolling India's borders. But now, the stain of this fake encounter threatens to spoil the image of this force.
A CNN-IBN Special Investigation has revealed that the BSF may be covering up this fake encounter committed by one of its commanders in Kashmir. The officer in question is the son of BJP MP Bhanwar Singh Dangawas from Nagaur in Rajasthan.
In his situation report, Narender Singh Dangawas said Constable Bashir Ahmed had fired 68 rounds during the encounter. But Bashir denies it outright. Bashir says he was not even present at the spot of the encounter.
"Us time jab fire hua to main nikal gaya Usmarag mein, wahan maine chai layi, langar mein gaya chai banane ke liye,(When the firing happened, I was in Usmarag, making tea!)," Bashir Ahmed Baba, constable with the 42nd Battalion of the BSF, claims.
While Narender Singh claimed that 66 BSF soldiers took part in the encounter, the CNN-IBN Special Investigation Team has evidence that during the BSF's internal enquiries, at least 47 soldiers denied being present there.
Telephone conversations recorded by a BSF Insider, available exclusively with the Special Investigation Team, nails this cover-up.
BSF insider: Yeh jo…jo Narendra Singh ne jo farzi mutbher kiya tha na (It's about the face encounter involving Narendra Singh...)
Ganesh Kumar Chaudhari, Constable, 42nd Battalion, BSF: Haan. Hum to operation main the hi nahin (Yes, but we were not even there in the operation.)
BSF Insider: Achcha, usne poocha tha kya aap kahan duty the karke? (Ok, but he had asked where you were posted then?)
Ganesh: Haan.. main bataya tha… gate pe duty kiya (Yes, I told him I was on duty at the gate.)
BSF Insider: Aapne kya statement diya hai? (What statement have you given?)
Shashi Jogi, Constable, 42nd Battalion, BSF: Main nahi tha usmein, main toh bol diya main nahi tha (I was not there. I have told him that I was not there.)
BSF Insider: Matlab aapka naam to Narendra Nath Singh ne daal rakha tha na? (That means Narendra Nath Singh simply put your name in it?)
Jogi: Haan likha toh tha, lekin jab mujhe statement dene ke liya bulaya na, toh maine bola, sir main to nahin tha usmein. (He did write my name. But when I was called to give my statement, I said sir I was not present there.)
In spite of this damning evidence against him, Narender Singh has survived five internal BSF enquiries. His report is full of self-praise. "Gallant action of the commandant was true to the BSF motto — duty unto death," he said of himself.
Yet, all pictures of the encounter are missing, which even his colleagues find laughable.
Vinay Gehlote, Inspector, 42nd Battalion, BSF: Na nahin hain! Isne pehle hi nikal liya the vo photo. Isko sab pata thi kahani, ki aage chal ke ye mera liye ghatak sidh ho sakta hai (No, it's not there. He had taken out the photo long back. He knew that this photo could create problem for him in future.)"
BSF Insider: Achcha? (Is it?)
Gehlot: Usne sab computer ke data delete kar diye the aur puri floppy ko hi usne delete kar di thi, jo record karna tha usne record kar liya tha. (He had deleted all the data on the computer and on the floppy. He had also recorded whatever needed to be recorded.)
Gehlot: jab koi banda marta hai…hmm? Har unit khoob saare photo khenchti hai..khoob .. hmmm ..photo khenchti hai din bhaar? hmm.. to baaki operation ke khoob photo lage hain… to us operation ki photo kyun nahi hain? (Wherever someone gets killed in an operation, every unit takes a whole lot of snaps. When the photos of all other operations are still there, where are the photos of this operation?)
According to official records, Pakistani Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist Ismail Bhai is buried in the burial ground, but was he really a Pakistani terrorist or a victim of a fake encounter that remains a mystery even today.
(With Pradeep Kumar Pandey and cameraperson Sudesh Bhat)
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