Posts Tagged ‘Central Bureau of Investigation’

With the Jammu and Kashmir police closing the case against Major (Retd) Avtar Singh who attained notoriety in the murder of top human rights activist and lawyer, Jaleel Andrabi, Kashmir Life profiles the other victims of Avtar’s cruelty!

Jaleel Andrabi, a human rights lawyer, had appeared in the 77th session of Human Rights in Geneva in 1995 where he raised voice against the ‘military aggression’ carried out by India in Kashmir to curb the popular political dissent. His speech was so powerful that many people say he was told in Geneva that he ‘won’t be spared’.

Once Jaleel returned home, there were two attempts on his life after which he fled to Delhi. He was returning home with his wife on March 8, 1996 to celebrate Eid with his family when their car was stopped near Saddar police station and he was taken away. “I followed the military vehicle in an auto till the National Highway where I lost their trail,” his wife, Rifat Andrabi, says.

On March 27, Jaleel’s body was found near river Jehlum in Rajbagh area in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital, Srinagar. It has been 16 years now but no one has been booked for his murder. Major Avatar Singh of 35 Rashtriya Rifles was identified as the main accused in the case but the state, like in most cases where armed forces have been found involved in cold blooded murders, allegedly deliberately put a brake on filing charges against him.

When Avatar Singh was found guilty and a prime accused by a Special Investigation Team formed in 1997 along with five others, and ordered his arrest, he fled to Canada and then to California, despite the fact that his passport was impounded. Singh was arrested in Canada on charges of domestic violence in 2011 and US police had alerted Central Bureau of Investigation in New Delhi that they had their man but he was never extradited.

Jaleel, however, was not the only victim of Avtar’s cruelty. Kashmir Life profiles four other persons who were allegedly abducted by Avtar at the peak of militancy in Kashmir valley. While their tortured corpses were found abandoned, like Jaleel’s, many of them have vanished into thin air, and justice is still a far cry!

BUDGAM

On April 5, 1996, Sikander Ganai, a pro-government gunman was found dead in a private taxi near Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu highway along with four other men. Three of them were his close associates who alleged helped Avtar Singh eliminate Jaleel Andrabi. The fifth man killed that day along with Sikandar and his associates was later identified as Mohammad Afzal Malik, the driver of the Ambassador car.

On June 10, 2012, Kashmir woke up to the news of Avtar Singh allegedly killing his entire family in Selma California before turning the gun on himself. Singh was investigated for the murder of nine other people including Sikandar and his associates, and Malik. We set out to find out the family of Malik and after two days of futile efforts finally met Malik’s father, Ghulam Mohiddin Malik, who lives a detached life on the outskirts of Budgam in central Kashmir.

Ghulam Mohiddin Malik, 65, looks much older than his age. It was hard to convince him to talk about his son and when he finally agreed, sadness overcame his face and he began to sob like a child. “He was a taxi driver. He had nothing to do with Sikandar,” said a barely audible Mohiddin Malik.

“Three days before his body was found, he was picked up by Sikander near our house. Sikander and his men forcefully took him along as they needed a ride,” he said in between consistent sobs. Mohiddin’s neighbour who was sitting beside him told us that he saw Afzal plead with Sikandar and his men to let him go as his wife was expecting a baby.

“But he did not listen. Too much resistance would have put Afzal in instant danger as Sikander was known to be ruthless in the area,” added Mohiddin. For the next three days, Afzal was untraceable. “We filed an FIR with the local police station when he did not return that day,” Mohiddin recalls.

After three days, a man from the local police station told them that they had found some dead bodies near Pampore and took Mohiddin along with him for identification. “I kept praying for odds to be in my favour. I kept praying all along. But it was all in vain. My son was there soaked in blood along with four other people.”

Hours after Afzal’s body reached home, his wife gave birth to a baby girl. “Life plays games with us and we can’t help but accept His will,” said Mohiddin. Three years later, Afzal’s wife remarried and left forever with her daughter. “She was our only hope after Malik left. But we could not stop her from marrying again as she was young,” said Mohiddin.

After Malik’s death, his wife was offered a job by the government. “They also gave us a compensation of Rs 1 lakh. But can money bring back our son?” Mohiddin asks. —

Jawahar Nagar

Abdul Majid Shah, 40, was killed in the winter of 1996, some weeks before Jaleel Andrabi was killed in a similar manner. It was snowing, his friends and family say, when Majid was picked up from his rented residence at Jawahar Nagar. “Days later, his body was found miles away from his home in Pampore, Farooq Ahmed Shah,” Majid’s younger brother says.

Majid’s mother kept staring at us for a long time when we visited her house. She does not move often and needs a support to walk, “What should I tell you? He was killed and that is all I know,” was the only response that she gave.

Majid’s body was found in river Jhelum. Since no one had come forward to claim it, the body was buried by the police in Pampore who had taken its pictures which helped the family in identifying him. Majid was later exhumed and handed over to his family.

“We had never imagined he will die like this,” says his friend, Mohammed Yousuf, “One of our friends, Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, used to tell Majid, ‘If you ever leave me alone, I will take you out from your grave’.”

And it was indeed Bhat who took Majid out of the grave in Pampore, Yousuf recalls. “Torture marks were visible all over his body. It later came out in media that he was tortured and hanged to death,” he says.

Majid, who was associated with a mainstream political party, was one of the victims of Major Avtar Singh. The family did not investigate or follow up Majid’s killings. “Though we had good contacts and connection with police but the time was the hardest. There was no way to raise our voice against our brother’s killings. So we did nothing more than mourning,” says Farooq.

Since Majid’s siblings had no role in following up his case, the details of Majid’s death vanished with his father’s death. The family does not even remember the FIR number that was lodged in the Pampore police station where his body was found.

One of the Majid’s close associates and his relatives says that before Majid was picked up, some Hizbul Mujahideen militants had resided in his apartment for a night. One of them was Harwinder Kaur alias Vinny, who lived in the same vicinity in Jawahar Nagar. Kaur was then in a relationship with Avtar and later both got married. “This could possibly be the only reason for Majid’s killing,” Majid’s cousin says.

Batamaloo

Mehbooba Jan has been bed-ridden since her husband, Ghulam Qadir Kanni, Ghulam Qadir Kannia chef, was abducted on Feb 18, 1996, allegedly by Major Avtar Singh, two days before Eid-ul-Fitr near his Batmaloo residence on the outskirts of Srinagar. On the fateful day, the government forces knocked at Kanni’s door at around 9:45 pm to carry out a search operation. After they could not find anything, Avtar asked the family who the eldest person in the family was. Kanni presented himself before the officer and he was taken out.

“Avtar took him out of the room, held a pistol to my chest and threatened to kill me,” Mehbooba recalls in a chocked voice. Three months after the abduction, a corpse was brought to the house and Kanni’s daughter, Subeena, was asked to identify it. It turned out that the body was not of her father.

Sixteen years have passed but the fear still pervades the family. The family wants to conduct the last rites of Kanni. Mehbooba, who has tacitly placed her bed near the window, still hopes to see her husband walk into the house again. “Writing about it is like rubbing salt on our wounds,” she says, “Do you have any way that would help me in finding my husband?” Mehbooba asks.

The family had filed a complaint with the J&K police and visited different jails, interrogation centers and police stations. One day, an Army brigadier from Badam Bagh cantonment summoned Mehbooba to identify her husband’s abductors. “I saw Avtar Singh and told the Brigader that was the abductor. Instead, Avtar refused my claims and the Brigader told me to go to court,” Mehbooba says. —

The government had offered a job for the kin of Kanni and Rs 1 lakh as compensation but the family rejected the offer, “The only want we want is our father. We don’t need money or any government job,” Subeena says while kissing her father’s photograph.

Many of the victims of Avtar Singh were dumbed in River Jehlum from where their bodies were recovered later

Many of the victims of Avtar Singh were dumbed in River Jehlum from where their bodies were recovered later

The news of Major Avtar’s suicide had brought some relief to the family, “Justice may get delayed but it can’t be denied, especially when Allah’s mercy reaches its zenith,” says Mehbooba. The family believes that the alleged suicide of Singh was God’s verdict in the case.

Jawahar Nagar

Imtiyaz Ahmed Wani was picked up by uniformed men from his residence at Ikhrajpora on the intervening night of May 15-16, 1996 at 9.45 pm when he was barely 17. He had left school due to financial problems at home, since his father, Ghulam Mohammed Wani alias Gulla Wani, often complained of ill-health, and joined as a gardener in the state’s forest department.

“They dragged Imtiyaz by his collar and warned us not to shout or cry. They threatened to kill us. They said they have to get some information from him and that they will set him free the next day,” his sister, Mehbooba says

Gulla Wani had tried to follow the Army vehicle but, he says, it just disappeared. Mehbooba was alone at the house when we went there. She points out towards the window through which Gulla Wani had jumped to follow the government forces who took away his son, Imtiyaz, the sole bread-earner of the family.

The J&K police had investigated the case and created a list of accused which was sent to Home Ministry in 2000 for taking its sanction to take action against the accused. Till now, the ministry has not responded, says Bari Andrabi, Chief Prosecuting officer of the case in Srinagar. “Six army personnel – Major Avtar Singh, Sobadar Balbeer Singh, Naib Sobadar Sukinder Singh, Hawaldar Ved Kumar, Hawaldar Vijay Krishnan and Suman Singh alias Doctor, and four civilians including Satvant Kaur, wife of Hakeeqat Singh, Gursharan Kaur alias Dimple and Harvinder Kaur alias Vinny were accused in the case,” Andrabi says. Harvinder Kaur alias Vinny, who was then residing at a rented apartment in Jawahar Nagar, later married Avtar. She is presently living in Delhi. Avtar had divorced her some years back.

Riyaz Ahmed, SHO Rajbagh, where the case was registered, says, “I haven’t investigated the case myself. I have heard that Imtiyaz was either in a relationship with Gursharan Kaur [Avtar’s sister-in-law] or must have teased her at some time. This is the only possible reason for murdering Imtiyaz.”

After his wife died, Gulla Wani spends most of his time outside his home, “She died of heart attack some two years back. They found a photograph of Imtiyaz under her pillow. The family has been waiting for him,” Mehbooba’s cousin says. The family is still living with a hope that Imtiyaz will come back since his body was not found. They approached a few local human right defenders and participated in their monthly sit-in protests but it didn’t bear any fruit.

After her brother disappeared, Mehbooba has decided not to marry. “First it was Imtiyaz. Now it is my father. I never got time to think about my marriage. When Imtiyaz comes back, he will sort out the things himself,” she says.

Police records show Imtiyaz is dead but his body has not been found yet. An FIR no 4/97 under section 302, 364, 201 was lodged in Rajbagh police station but no investigations were carried out.

“How can I say he is not alive? How can I even believe that?” Mehbooba asks. “I am told he is alive and I would like to believe so. I have spent many sleepless nights to look for him on television and have actually seen him, alive!”

Compiled from dispatches by Shams Irfan, Syed Asma, Saima Bhat and Junaid Nabi Bazaz.

Original source- http://kashmirlife.net/

AP
Grief behind Photos are all that remain of Kashmir’s missing


Are the mass graves of Kashmir less heinous because they are the handiwork of a democracy?

Recently, I came across the work of Slovenian poet Tomaz Salamun and found myself unexpectedly distressed, even outraged, after reading his short poem Not the War. In the words “Not the murder, silence brings one back to the scene of the crime”, Salamun is perhaps talking of love. But I am thinking war, and am transported back home, to Kashmir, to scenes of nameless burials and sites of extra-judicial killings.

I was angry at the silence of the Indian State, and more crucially perhaps, the hushedness of the country’s vibrant civil society, at the discovery of thousands of unmarked graves in troubled Jammu & Kashmir. It has been nearly a year since the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), a human rights body appointed by the state government, released an extensive report on the presence of 2,156 bullet-ridden bodies in unmarked graves in the border districts. It confirmed what a local rights group, the International People’s Tribunal of Kashmir, had revealed in a landmark investigation in 2008. Hundreds of the bodies were of men described as “unidentified militants”, killed in fighting with the armed forces during the armed insurrection of the 1990s. But, according to the report, at least 574 of them were of those “identified as local Kashmiri residents”.

Like many Kashmiris and Indians, I waited for something to happen—international outrage perhaps, a furore, a commission of inquiry and, one might be forgiven for thinking, even the possibility of justice—for the State cannot exonerate itself from its responsibility of delivering justice with a mere investigation. (Surely, one doesn’t hear too often of mass graves these days, except perhaps those of the Balkan conflict of the 1990s or of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq!) But, apart from news reports in the Indian and the international press, and the local administration’s vague talk of a truth and reconciliation commission—I wonder how one can reconcile in the absence of truth—nothing significant has happened.

Kashmiris have, of course, always known that the hundreds of Kashmiri men who disappeared, mostly in the 1990s, but also in subsequent years, did not vanish into thin air—they were buried, unaccounted and unrecorded, in nameless graves in the Himalayan tracks near the LoC. We have also known that not all of them were combatants killed in fighting with the armed forces. Many of them were victims of fake encounters and extra-judicial killings, as has been revealed in the many cases of men previously described as “dreaded militants” found to be innocents killed for medals or money. In one appalling instance of wilful perversion of justice—the Pathribal fake encounter of March 2000, around the time US president Bill Clinton was to visit India—the Indian State has so far refused to prosecute army officers involved in the premeditated murder of five innocent men portrayed as terrorists who had massacred 35 Sikhs of Kashmir. This, when the Central Bureau of Investigation has submitted evidence that the men were “killed in cold blood”. Many in Kashmir have reconciled to the idea that justice may never be done, the guilty may never be punished and grieving relatives may be condemned to Sisyphean waiting.

The publication of the SHRC report last year, confirming the presence of unmarked graves at 38 sites near the mountains of Kashmir, while reopening old wounds also gave fresh hope to the kin of those who had disappeared—that there may be some closure after all; that the Indian State may, in a rare moral turn, address one of the darkest chapters of the 22-year-old uprising against its rule in Kashmir; that it may finally be willing to listen to what rights groups, journalists and the parents of the missing have been saying for years.

Surely one does not hear of mass graves too often these days, unless they are those of Saddam’s iraq or the Balkan conflict? So why the silence over those found in a Democracy’s garden?

The report came out last August, and the same commission subsequently ordered a further probe, citing the presence of nearly 3,000 more graves in the remote districts of Poonch and Rajouri—some allegedly with multiple bodies in them. But apart from one impassioned editorial expressing shame, a couple of speciously-framed TV shows attempting, among other things, equivalence between the all-powerful state and a beleaguered people, the media, while running the story, largely ignored the issue. “There is every probability that these unidentified dead bodies buried in various unmarked graves at 38 places of north Kashmir may contain the dead bodies of enforced disappearances,” the SHRC report had said. How can we not, then, express outrage over what could potentially constitute evidence of crimes against humanity? We’d do that if, say, the graves were made in Tripoli, under a dictatorship, wouldn’t we? Somehow, and for reasons unknown, unmarked graves (some with only heads in them) found in the disputed backyard of the world’s largest democracy have been deemed not heinous enough. Are we to assume mass graves made in a democracy are somehow more humane?Does not such a discovery merit even a customary response from the Indian State? As far as I remember, there has been no official comment by the Central government in Delhi, so deeply entrenched is India’s policy of indifference and denial on Kashmir. And what of its intellectual classes who were on site, and rightly so, when India signed the UN resolution against Sri Lanka for its atrocities against Tamil civilians during the campaign against the ltte? If the conscience of a nation is not stirred by the discovery of thousands of nameless burials in what it claims as an integral part, the claim not only rings hollow, it was and will only ever remain a claim.

In recent months, some well-meaning commentators and Kashmir experts have started talking about moving on, about the dividends of peace, about economics as opposed to politics—as though these dual aspects were congenitally detached. This is more or less consistent with the outpourings of some members of India’s new class of beat intellectuals—they move from issue to issue, or studio to studio, with equal panache—and their callousness towards the tragedy of Kashmir is matched only by their disdain for even contemporary history. Perhaps the most serious and bizarrely anti-intellectual assertion, and therefore an insidious one, seems to project the idea of peace as somehow incompatible with the idea of justice, and those who demand it as some kind of violence fetishists—as though talking about massacres stems democracy and progress.

In the Indian establishment—and indeed the political philosophy espoused in statist writing on Kashmir employs language disturbingly reminiscent of an ‘establishment project’—there has been a sudden spurt in conversations around the ‘dividends of peace’ in Kashmir. This is, of course, not possible without the buy-in of a thriving comprador class in the conflict-torn land. Translated into realpolitik, this otherwise benign phrase seems to convey to a subject population that it is time they forgot their long-held aspirations for freedom, as also about possible crimes committed by a state that has been nothing but militaristic in its dealings with them. The jackboot comes draped in a flag emblazoned with the words “Let bygones be bygones”.

As for the talk of a truth and reconciliation commission to close the story of unmarked graves, while it is unambiguously noble in its pacifist aspirations and surely the right thing to do to assuage the pain of a people, it seems ludicrously premature in a place that is run by a system of repression. (It must be noted that, for all practical purposes, the Indian State and its client elites operate without a moral system in Kashmir.) One is, again, compelled to ask some elementary questions: truth and reconciliation, yes, but on who on whose terms? Can it mean anything if the terms are set by a repressive state? One hates to suspect this, but the people who tout this as a solution may not even fully understand the import of the phrase and have perhaps forgotten that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa came into effect after the end of apartheid, not while it was in full play. Even if one were to make an attempt to attend to the views of those who preach “moving on”, a single, simple, inquiry stands in the way: How does one move on from thousands of graves in one’s front garden?


(Mirza Waheed, who lives in London, is the author of The Collaborator.), in Oulook, June 18, 2012

Is this yet another instance of lack of sensitivity towards continued human rights violations in the Valley?

Parvez Imroz

Searing wound A man offers his prayers to the deceased Pathribal and Brakpora victims near a graveyard in Brarangan

Photo: Sajad Muniwari

On 1 May 2012, the Supreme Court of India issued its final judgment in the case referred to as the Pathribal case. In the context of the killing of 36 Sikhs on 20 March 2000, personnel of the 7 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) were found by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to have killed five persons in a fake encounter on 25 March 2000. A chargesheet was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate-cum Special Magistrate (CJM), CBI on 9 May 2006. The CJM granted an opportunity to the Indian Army to exercise the option of a court-martial.

The Army stated that in light of Section 7 of the Armed Forces Jammu and Kashmir (Special Powers) Act, (AFSPA) 1990, the chargesheet could not have been produced before the CJM without obtaining sanction for prosecution from the Central government. The matter was litigated up to the SC and by the judgment of 1 May 2012, the SC has found that as per Section 7 of AFSPA, while a chargesheet may be presented before a court, no cognizance may be taken.

Further, that the competent Army authorities has to exercise discretion on whether a court-martial is to be instituted after the filing of a chargesheet before a court. Section 7 of AFSPA states “no prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the Central government, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act”. The fundamental issue before the SC was relating to the point at which sanction needed to be sought i.e. before the filing of the chargesheet, or after the filing of a chargesheet but before cognizance by a court.

Fake encounters, along with various other human rights violations, have been a reality for the people of Jammu and Kashmir over the last 22 years. In 2008, SC Justices Aftab Alam and GS Singhvi made oral observations in court, it was reported, in relation to the practice of fake encounters for rewards in Jammu and Kashmir. With about 8000 persons disappeared, 70,000 persons killed, numerous cases of torture, rape and other human rights violations, Jammu and Kashmir has seen little in the form of justice over the last 22 years.

Based on the above, the SC judgment in the Pathribal case was keenly awaited by activists, lawyers, and most importantly, families of victims of the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. The 1 May 2012 judgment has unfortunately failed to address the legal issues within the reality of the ongoing conflict in the area, and has further strengthened the impunity that exists for human rights violations, particularly for security forces.

First, while the apex court states in its judgment at Para 23 that “the question as to whether the sanction is required or not under a statute has to be considered at the time of taking cognizance of the offence…”, it concludes, in Para 66 (i) by stating that cognizance may not be taken by a court without prior sanction. The effect of this conclusion might well be a complete negation of the qualifying portion of Section 7, AFSPA that limits the need for seeking sanction only “in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act”. This qualification can only be brought alive if a competent court were to be allowed to take cognizance of a case i.e. apply its judicial mind to the chargesheet and decide whether the qualification applies. Further, in Para 66 (iii), the SC states that “facts of this case require sanction of the Central government to proceed with the criminal prosecution/trial” (emphasis added). Therefore, it appears that on the one hand the SC has effectively barred a court from taking cognizance of a case, but through this judgment, the SC has itself appreciated the facts of the Pathribal case and found that sanction would be required to be sought. This seeming contradiction between the conclusions of the SC would require further clarification in the future, and perhaps is a pointer to the need to allow competent courts the opportunity to fully appreciate the specifics of a case before a request for sanction is necessitated.

Second, in Para 58, the SC, while addressing the issue of court-martials, states that Section 126 of the Army Act, 1950 (hereinafter “Army Act”), allows a criminal court to seek to prosecute an army personnel despite the Army also exercising the option of a court-martial. Section 126 of the Army Act provides the procedure to be followed when a criminal court is “of opinion” that proceedings shall be instituted before itself. For a criminal court to form such an “opinion”, it would necessarily have to apply its judicial mind to material before it i.e. it would have to take cognizance of the matter before it.

Therefore, by denying the right of a court to take note of a matter, and decide whether sanction for prosecution need be sought, the SC appears to have rendered the qualification in Section 7, AFSPA, meaningless, the power of the court under Section 126, Army Act, redundant, and further strengthened impunity in areas governed by AFSPA. While recognising, in Para 55 that the process of sanction seeks to protect persons acting in good faith, the judgment of the apex court effectively provides a blanket of impunity to the security forces.

This impunity has to be understood within the context of Jammu and Kashmir, and the actions of the Central government over the last 22 years. The following information received through responses to Right to Information (RTI) applications is striking. The government of Jammu and Kashmir, on 23 February 2012, stated in writing that no sanction for prosecutions had ever been granted in Jammu and Kashmir between 1990 and 2011. Not a single case. The Ministry of Defence, on 18 April 2012, stated in writing that out of a total of 44 cases received for the purpose of grant of sanction, 35 have been denied, and nine are under consideration. Further, that of these cases only one case was processed by the court-martial proceedings. Therefore, the reality of Jammu and Kashmir has been total and absolute impunity.

The Pathribal case was an opportunity for the SC to earn the respect of the people of the Valley, particularly in light of earlier criticised judgments of the apex court in matters related to human rights. But, the judgment further emboldens the security forces, which may result in further irresponsible actions by the security forces and strengthen a process that has appeared to never favour the victims of human rights violations, but only the accused.

People will continue to view this fall out as a continued disappointment with the institution of the Judiciary, and a recognition that further impunity for human rights violations awaits.

(Author is the president of Coalition of Civil Society, a civil rights group), Tehelka

Amnesty International 
1 May 2012 

India: Pathribal ruling a setback for justice in Jammu and Kashmir 

Special powers that allow India’s armed forces suspected of involvement in extra-judicial killings to sidestep the civilian courts have been reinforced in a disappointing court ruling over the notorious killings of five Kashmiri civilians 12 years ago.

India’s Supreme Court has contradicted a reported statement by its Justices in February 2012 that army personnel suspected of murder should be placed in front of a civil judge.

Instead it opted to give military authorities eight weeks to bring about the court martial of eight army officials allegedly responsible for the unlawful killing of five youths in Pathribal, in March 2000. Failing that, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), may apply to prosecute the army personnel.

“Today’s ruling is a major setback – not only for victims in this case but for other victims unlawfully killed by army or paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan, Amnesty International’s India Researcher.  

“The option of a court martial allows these army officials to continue to avoid judgment in court of law.” 

The CBI, which investigated the Pathribal killings, has contended it has sufficient evidence to show that the killings were extrajudicial executions and ‘cold-blooded murder’. It filed charges against the eight army officials in local courts in Jammu and Kashmir. In response army officials invoked special powers stating that they need not appear for trial in a civilian court of law.

The Armed Forces J & K (Special Powers) Act, 1990 requires the CBI to seek official permission to initiate criminal proceedings against the eight accused officials.

“Today’s ruling should have taken into account the evidence provided by the CBI; by giving the first option to the army for a court martial, this ruling reinforces immunity from prosecution in other cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Gopalakrishnan.

“Instead of upholding the universal and constitutional right to life, the Supreme Court chose to rely on emergency laws which provide excessive powers, as well as impunity, to the army.  

“The families of the victims must have their day in court. The Indian authorities must restore public confidence in the rule of law, and ensure justice for the victims of the Pathribal killings. 

“Impunity for human rights violations by the army and paramilitary forces under “special powers” legislation must stop.” 

Download the Judgement here

Syed Rizwan Geelani, Rising Kashmir

Srinagar, April 10: Mohammad Ameen Zargar appears to be older than actually he is. His face is sun beaten and he looks a tired man. Zargar is tirelessly fighting for the justice of his son, Showkat Ahmad, who was allegedly killed in a staged encounter by Border Security Force (BSF) in 2002 in Rainawari.

The family members claim that the paramilitary BSF troopers killed him since he was a namesake of an active militant in old city in 2002.
“From 2002 onwards, we are fighting for justice. We want the killers to be hanged in public,” the angry father said. “My son was a civilian. He was murdered by BSF for being a namesake of a militant in the area”.
Zargar wandered from pillar to post, knocking every door, which he felt would support him to bring the “culprits” to justice. But nobody helped him.
The father of the deceased said soon after his son’s killing approached State Human Rights Commission and filed a complaint there. He said the SHRC directed the Government to punish the accused troopers.Zargar said far from being the instructions implemented, they have remained confined to papers.
“The killers of my son are roaming scot free,” he fumed.
Later, Zargar said the case was forwarded to premier investigating agency- Central Bureau of Investigation– but no probe was done till date “Our case is pending with CBI from past eight years. It seems that they are least bothered to pay any heed to my case,” he alleged.Showkat Ahmad according to his family members was picked up by the BSF 49th Battalion from his house on April 9 in 2002 and was subsequently killed.
Lending credence to his claims, Zargar said the BSF commandant of a local camp, whose men were involved in the killing of his son, later realized that they have killed a wrong man. “As a result, he gave me a special Identity card so that I was spared from the wrath of troops those days,” he said.
Recollecting past, Zargar said he remembers that night when troopers barged into their house and bundled him into a vehicle and whisked him away. “The same night he was murdered by BSF men,” Zargar recalls.Deceased sister, Azra Ameen said their mother had been bed ridden since the day Showket was killed.
“Why did they kill him? What was his fault? Mother always asks,” said Ameen and broke down.
She too reminisced that fateful day. Amen said the Showket was having dinner when troopers barged into their house and dragged him out.


“They locked all the doors. They also snapped the electricity leaving us in dark. We were shouting, crying for help,” he said.
She said that few hours later they heard the gun shots. “Our heart sank. My mother yelled a loud scream. She knew troopers have killed him in the fake encounter. We can’t forget that harrowing night,” Ameen said.
Next day, she said, the body of Showkat was handed over to them. “After his killing BSF claimed that they have killed an active militant in the area. The news appeared in a newspapers and it was run on TV also,” she said.
She said her brother was working as daily wager in Deputy Commissioner’s office at Srinagar. “They killed him for the sake of promotion and medals,” she said, adding, “We are waiting for the day when killers would be punished.”