The men — laborers Abrar Ahmad Khan, Imtiyaz Ahmad and Abrar Ahmad Yousuf, who had left their homes to look for work — were killed in an army operation in July. Local police recovered pistols and live cartridges from the scene, and a special investigations unit said the army had initially portrayed the victims as “militants.”
In a statement Sunday, police said the accused had staged the murders as a fake military encounter and “planted illegally acquired weapons and material on their dead bodies after stripping them of their identities and tagged them as hardcore terrorists.”
Police added the unit had “deliberately and purposefully” chosen not to follow standard operating procedures in Kashmir.
The Indian Army has not indicated whether the captain will be tried under civilian jurisdiction or in a military court. Under an emergency law enacted in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990, Indian army soldiers cannot be tried in civilian courts under ordinary jurisdiction without the permission of the federal government.
Prosecutions of army officers for alleged offenses and abuses are rare, however, and similar claims of staged incidents have been made in the past, making the investigation and charges all the more unusual.