03 Commissions ordered in militancy related incidents in state since 1996

Bilal Handoo

SRINAGAR

On Wednesday the autumn session of Assembly was adjourned sine die, but before that, details released by government in house informed that three enquiries/probes have been ordered by the general administration department (GAD) in militancy related incidents in state since August 1996.

The first probe was ordered in Pathribal incident, involving fudging of blood samples. This one man commission was headed by Justice GA Kuchhai. The second probe was ordered to enquire into the incidents of violence at Brakpora in district Islamabad on April 03, 2000. The probe is known as SR Pandian Commission. The third probe was ordered regarding the firing events at Haigam (Sopore) and Maisuma (Srinagar) on Feb 15 and 16, 2001 respectively. This one man commission is headed by Justice OP Sharma.

GA Kuchhai Commission

The commission submitted its report to the House Department which placed it before the cabinet for consideration. The government reply to the question of MLA Langate, Er Rashid revealed that the cabinet took note of the report and appointed a Sub Committee headed by deputy chief minister.

“The report of the Sub Committee was considered by the cabinet on July 23, 2003,” the government reply informed, “and accepted with the modification to replace the word ‘Vigilance Commissioner’ to ‘CBI’ to conduct further inquiry.”

The reply says the case is under examination with Home Department and CBI.

“The Home Department has intimated that the case is at final stage of legal scrutiny.”

SR Pandian Commission

The commission submitted its report to the Home Department and GAD, informed the government reply. The Home Department, as per the reply asked the DG Police to take necessary action against the police personnel indicated in the report, “and GAD also called explanations of the officers of civil administration which were replied by them mentioning that there was no negligence on the part.”

Both Kuchhai as well as Pandian Commissions are revolved around interrelated events in south Kashmir in early 2000.

Incident

Bodies of slain men in Pathribal exhumed
Bodies of slain men in Pathribal exhumed

Five days after the events at Chattisinghpora, on 25 March 2000, government forces killed five men in Pathribal village of Islamabad district, claiming that the victims were the “foreign militants” responsible for the attacks.

Official reports claimed that government forces had, after a gun fight, blown up the hut where the men were hiding, and had retrieved five bodies that had been charred beyond recognition. The bodies were buried separately without any postmortem examination.

Days later, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Dr A K Bhan claimed that his personnel led by Senior Superintendent of Police Farooq Khan, in a joint operation with the army, had shot dead the five militants responsible for the Sikh massacre.

According to Dr Bhan, the government forces had surrounded a hut in Panchthalan, near Pathribal, where the terrorists were hiding. The fierce encounter that ensued ended when the shelter, with all five inside, caught fire and was destroyed.

The special investigation team inquiring into the Pathribal incident approached the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Kolkata, with medical samples of the relatives to match with those of the slain men.

That was in 2000. Two years later, the controversy had faded from public memory when The Times of India reported that the samples from the relatives had been substituted with some others, a fact that both forensic centres had conveyed to the state police more than a year ago.

‘…While the DNA samples purported to have been collected from the relatives did not match those of the DNA isolated from the exhumed bodies, in three cases, the samples of women relatives were found to have come from men,’ read the Times report.

Slain men in Pathribal
Slain men in Pathribal

“I do not need DNA tests to recognise my son,” mother of one of the slain men Zahoor Dalal was quoted saying. “We had identified his body years ago. Since the government wanted proof, we had given them blood samples. Now we are told those have been tampered with.”

The state administration, despite knowing for a year that the samples had been fudged, did not make any effort to conduct a fresh test. It collected fresh samples from the relatives only after the controversy hit the front pages and forced an admission from Dr Abdullah in the state assembly that the earlier samples had been fudged.

OP Sharma Commission

This one man commission submitted its report to the government in 2000 and the same was placed before the cabinet, the government details revealed.

“The cabinet vide its decision no. 190/18 dated 31.10.2000 accepted the report in toto,” the reply informed.

The official response says GAD called an explanation of the then deputy commissioner, Anantnag, Dr Pawan Kotwal, who replied that there was no negligence on his part.

“Action on other points was to be taken by the Law and Home Departments to whom the decision of the cabinet was conveyed,” the details revealed.

“The concerned departments were asked to take appropriate action into the matter.”

Incident

On February 14, 2001 a former militant of JKLF Jalil Ahmad Shah was allegedly killed in custody by 22 RR in Haigam Sopore. Jalil, according to locals, was like hundreds of former militants who had given up gun and was leading a civilian life.

His death shocked the residents and they staged a demonstration blocking Haigam-Sopore road. The residents were now demanding body of Jalil.

Police arrived on the spot and tried to pacify protesters. And when police was doing its job, three trucks of Armed Forces appeared on the scene. They got furious over the blockade and ordered firing killing five persons.

On the Maisuma incident on February 16, intelligence personnel of the 15th corps ran into what army dubbed as “unruly mob” that rained stones damaging the army vehicle and its driver who fired two rounds in self-defence from his pistol.    

523314784-300x199The government ordered probe under the Commission of Inquiries Act 1962. It appointed Justice (retired) O.P Sharma as inquiry officer.

Later, Indian Army admitted that its men opened fire in what they called “self-defence” during protests over custodial killings at Haigam-Sopore and Maisuma in Srinagar on February 15 and 16 respectively. Seven people were killed in the two firing incidents.

“Notwithstanding the judicial probe, we have also ordered a detailed inquiry into these unfortunate incidents,” then General Officer Commanding, 15th Corps, Lt. Gen. J R Mukherjee, told reporters in Srinagar.

“The inquiry would be time-bound and those found guilty would be brought to book and dealt with sternly.”

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