M L Koul Commission that was entrusted with the investigations of 2010 unrest, belatedly in 2014, has finally submitted its report. Recommending one case to be investigated by CBI, it has clearly talked about the weak and “concocted” defenses that the security grid has offered to justify its actions, Tasavur Mushtaq reports exclusively
(A policeman aims at protesters during the 2010 uprising (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
June 11 2010, a teargas canister fired from close range hit his head, scattered his brains and killed him instantly. The only son of his parents, Tufail Matoo’s death triggered street uprising and soon Omar Abdullah’s coalition government started piling up corpses.
Six years and six months later, M L Koul Commission in December 2016 suggests Matoo’s death should be investigated by the CBI. The case was closed by police as ‘untraced’. Matoo was the first of more than 120 victims.
Massive protests and after lot of criticism, in 2014, four years after the unrest, Omar Abdullah’s cabinet approved the setting up of a one-man Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on June 19, 2014, comprising Justice (Rtd). Makhan Lal Koul, to enquire into the circumstances, that led to the firing by the government forces leading to several deaths and to enquire and fix responsibility wherever any excessive force has been used.
Koul, took more than two years to submit the 320-page report to the then opposition leader and now Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti.
Submitted three days before the start of assembly session, the report insists that the “2010 unrest was neither abrupt, spontaneous, nor unusual.”
The Commission received 63 petitions involving CRPF, BSF and JK police. Of this, only two cases were on deaths as a result of stone pelting. The rest were the outcome of “Unprovoked and indiscriminate firing and use of disproportionate force”.
All government agencies as primary respondents have taken a common stand: “killings were neither deliberate nor intentional but were only preventive in nature.”
From this South Kashmir district, 10 petitioners filed their petitions. The report revealed that in terms of FIR 261 of 2010 in which it has been mentioned that three persons Shujat-ul-Islam, Imtiaz Ahmad Itoo and Ishtiaq Ahmad Khanday have died, “all the three persons were innocent and were killed by the accused as an assailant with his official rifle.”
The police has established the case of murder against Nisar Ahmad Constable No 1529/A under section 302 of RPC in the Sessions Court, Islamabad.
(A desperate father tries to sheild body of his son after police chased the mourners carrying two bodies in Srinagar (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
Regarding the 12-year-old Irshad Ahmad Parray, Commission reports him an “innocent victim” and insisting that “the boy in no way could be expected a vocal factor for causing any damage to the police personnel or their property.”
“Use of force must be proportionate to the situation”, commission responded to the death of Aqib Ahmad Wagay by a “gunshot.” The Report points out that “police has not established anywhere that any of their officials was injured or any public or private property was damaged.” However the “particular individual who was responsible for firing the gunshot has remained un-identified.”
Regarding the petition of Waheeda Yousuf about the killing of her husband Noor Muhammad Dagga in police action, Commission says that he “died in the firing incidents at the hands of security forces (CRPF/ J&K Police)” that was “not justified as a means to check the mob destructions.”
The death of a government employee Irshad Ahmad Latoo when he was purchasing the eatables for Iftaar, the report reads that “the evidence has established that he was innocent and not found behaving in a manner creating imminent danger to life or property to any individual or state.”
A truck cleaner, 20-year-old Tariq Ahmad Sheikh became victim of a gunshot on July 31, 2010. The medical record suggests that Tariq had died as a result of ‘head injury’. The respondents at any place did not establish that Tariq was indulging in any unlawful activity.
Not recorded in police sheets for any unlawful activity, the report says that the death of Nazir Ahmad Wani is “due to police firing and the identity of the assailant has not been established as well.”
Bashir Ahmad Reshi who fell to the bullets, Commission reports that “he could not be expected by any means that he was adamant in causing any destruction to any private and public property.”
(An injured being carried to hospital (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
Six petitions came to commission. The first one was related to FIR 406/2010, about the incidents which have taken place on September 13, 2010.
There were protests against an American Christian for burning Quran.
Abdul Gaffar Teli lost 16-year-old son, Adil Teli. Farooq Kuchay, lost his brother. Zaiba Banoo lost her husband. As per the police statement, “the firing was resorted to under the orders of Magistrate and the same caused death of these persons.” The magistrates on duty justified in their statements that for saving the public property and for ensuring the safety of security forces on duty firing was inevitable.”
The “firing was made under the orders of the Magistrates and so there is no point to hold that it was unwarranted or disproportionate,” the Commission reports. “it appears that the firing was made upon the demonstrators at a straight range and the same became the reason for the casualties. The three families have therefore, suffered in the unfortunate happenings of 2010 unrest.”
The claim of Abdul Gani Teli remained uncontested by the police. Teli lost his 43-yaer-old wife to a bullet. Police stated the lady received an “accidental fire when she was at the third storey of her residential house.”
During his visit to an injured in the hospital, Ghulam Rasool Tantray fell to the bullets. His son accused that Tantray became target of police. The report maintains that “the investigation has nowhere revealed that the father of the petitioner had at any moment been found to have indulged in any specific violent activities.”
Stampede or bullet shot, Ghulam Nabi Kumar lost his son, Danish, a resident of Charar-e-Sharief. Nabi deposed before the commission that his son died due to “target fire” but CRPF stated the “boy had died in stampede.” The commission reports that “the petitioner’s son in his bubbling childhood could not be expected to have been a source of any damage to the security forces but was caught up in the whirlpool of unfortunate winds where minor died in the stampede.”
(A mother wails over the body of his son killed inn 2010 uprising (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
In January 2015, four petitioners submitted applications alleging they have lost near and dear ones in the unprovoked firing in an unwarranted joint operation of police and CRPF.
Fatima Begum became widow when her husband was targeted on September 6, 2010 and had died in SKIMS, Soura.
Abdul Aziz Malik lost his son Feroz Ahmad to indiscriminate police firing as was alleged by him and he had also contended that his son was busy in preparing a chicken for holy night of Ramzan, Shab-i-Qadr.
Sajad Ahmad Mir has alleged that his brother Mudasar Ahmad was killed when he had gone for Nimaz-e-Jinaza to Palhalan.
Whereas, Tariq-ul-Ramzan in his petition had stated that his father Mohammad Ramzan Mir had also gone for the same Nimaz-e-Jinaza and fell to bullets there.
Police Station Pattan has registered FIR No. 210/2010 about theses incidents which contains various penal offences such as 148/149, 307,336,332 and 427.
“The public had only blocked the National Highway and no violent step was taken by any of the members in the unlawful assembly,” the report said. “The use of force therefore, without the orders of a Magistrate or in absence of a Magistrate cannot be said an exercise carried out by the security forces in accordance with the text of the law. The four persons, therefore, became victim of use of disproportionate force.”
With regard to death of Mohammad Amin Ganai and Ghulam Rasool Bhat on September 17, 2010, FIR No 214/2010 stands registered as police claims that “the mob became violent and security forces fired in self-defense. “
The commission on examination found that, “both the dead persons were going on with normal domestic work and because of the security forces firing they have been snatched away from their family fabric.”
Ansarullah had gone to offer prayers on September 18, 2010. As he came out of Masjid, he was “fired upon and killed ruthlessly by the forces.” As the news of his death spread, Ali Mohammad Waza rushed to the spot to get the body, according to his brother, he too was fired upon.
FIR No 217, dated September 18, 2010 stands registered where it is mentioned that the “security forces in joint operation tried to disperse the mob and resorted to firing which caused the death of these two persons.” Police did not deny the fact that the mosque was cordoned at Tantray Pora, Palhalan, Pattan.
Insisting that the defense statement was “only a cover-up mechanism to report about the killings of two civilians,” the Commission says “the use of force to such an extent to cause death of a civilian is not explainable by any reason or logic.” Further it reads that “the absence of Duty Magistrate and the absence of District Administration on spot have given a free hand both to the police and the security forces to take such an action of their own.”
Police gave clean chit to Bilal Ahmad Sheikh, a timber seller. In response to the petition of his old father, the Commission mentions in its report that “victim has died as an innocent citizen by the fire of a Constable working with 119 Bn.”
Received in the hospital as a case of “head injury with compound depressed fracture with shock on August 13, 2010,” Ali Muhammad Khanday succumbed to his injuries. His son petitioned that his father was cleaning the Masjid for the congregational Friday prayers when policemen deployed on the spot fired at him.
The police submits that “the violence of the people around gave a reason to the security forces to fire in self-defense and several protestors including the Ali Mohammad were injured, later he died in the hospital.
A criminal challan in terms of FIR No 190/2010 under section 147/148, 307, 336 etc was submitted in the Sessions Court Baramulla.
The Commission is satisfied that “a man of his age cannot be expected to be habitual in unlawful activities and his death in the mosque clearly indicates that he would have been definitely preparing for Friday prayers.”
(Bodies of three youth killed on a single day in Pattan (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
Ghulam Rasool Parray lost his son Mudasar Parray, a first Year BA student on September 13, 2010. The petitioner has stated that Mudasar was killed by unprovoked firing when he was out of home to coaching centre.
The defense statement submitted by the police said that “the mob had turned violent and Duty Magistrate was on spot and according to his orders some shots were fired in self-defense.”
The Commission reports that on examination it was found that “the petitioner’s son had become target of a permissive firing.”
12-year-old Adil Ramzan was admitted in the hospital as an injured person and was later fired upon inside the hospital. This is how, Muhammad Ramzan petitioned before the commission about the death of his son.
The defense statement is based on FIR No 181/2010. In this, the police have alleged that a violent mob gathered and firing became inevitable and in the aerial firing some persons were badly injured and amongst them Adil Ramzan was also injured and died later on.”
The Commission turns down the explanation, “there is no doubt that blaming 7th Standard student for violence is not a convincing defense formula. The explanation is cover up and concocted.”
Widowed in the first seven days of her marriage, bullets of forces snatched dreams of 26-year-old Masooda Banoo.
The police responded that “miscreants had turned violent” and a case in terms of FIR No 133 was registered accordingly. “In the police firing some persons were injured including the Fayaz Ahmad Khanday, the husband of the petitioner and criminal challan was submitted in the Court of law.”
“Masooda’s husband died in an unprovoked firing of the police and security forces but the identity of the person whose fire had hit the deceased is not traceable,” the report says.
Zahida Begum lost her son Syed Farakh Bukahri after the two deputy Superintendents of Police over-powered him had boarded him in Rakshak Vehicle and later the dead boy was found lying in the vicinity of police post Choora on August 10, 2010.
However, the police investigated this as a case of abduction/death and the case was declared “untraced” on the basis of FIR 386/2010 of Police Station Sopore.
The SSP has reported that the petitioner’s son was neither a criminal nor had any record of subversive activities. The Commission observes that “this fact suggests that the killer was a blood thirsty human who quenched his dreaded criminal feelings with the blood of an innocent soul.”
Farooq Ahmad Ganai alleged that his brother Tariq Ahmad Ganai was killed by the security forces. The police has taken the defense that FIR 91/2010 was registered by Police Station, Tangmarg and it had surfaced that the petitioner’s brother died as an injured person when firing was ordered by the Magistrate as a precautionary measure.
A resident of Kreeri Baramulla, 19-year-old Mohammad Yaqoob Khan as reported to commission was killed on September 13, 2010. FIR No 91 was registered by Police Station Tangmarg. The Commission reports that “On September 13, 2010, circumstances around Tangmarg had taken an ugly turn. The firing caused injuries to some persons including the deceased in question Mohammad Yaqoob Khan.”
On way to tuition centre, Farhat Masood Mir, 20, was hit by bullet at Bomai, Sopore, CRPF camp. His petitioner father, Masood Ahmad Mir, police says was also present in the mob on August 8, 2010.
“Bullets were showered upon a violent mob injuring some persons out of mob including the petitioner’s son who succumbed to injuries and during the course of investigation FIR No 413/2010 was registered but finally the case was closed as not admitted.”
(Opposition leader in 2010 Mehbooba Mufti protesting against the killings along with her party members (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
The commission reports that “the showering of bullets was not justified in absence of convincing evidence that there was imminent danger to the life of the security forces.”
Firdous Ahmad Khan, a class 12th student was irrigating the field when he was fired upon and killed; this is what his brother petitioned before the Commission. The incident took place on June 25, 2010. The respondents stated that Firdous was hit by a bullet at Ningli, Sopore as reported in FIR No 300/2010, but during investigation the case was closed as “untraced”
The Commission mentions in its report that “in the close vicinity of paddy fields an encounter was going on and the stray fire hit the petitioner’s brother who was himself irrigating the paddy fields and died on spot.”
Nazir Ahmad Hajam alleged that CRPF personnel at Mohalla Hajam, Arampora, Sopore fired and his son was hit by the bullet in abdomen and died on August 20, 2010.
The police also states that CRPF personnel indiscriminately fired upon a group of people coming home after evening prayers.
“The evidence is convincing on this point that there was neither any demonstration nor any public outburst but in an unwarranted and unjustified firing late at night after evening prayers the petitioner’s son died at the hands of CRPF personnel.” The assailant remains unidentified.
Bashir Ahmad Bhat has prayed before the Commission that stern action may be taken against the security forces for killing his innocent son, a 10th Class student on June 28, 2010.
The police admit in FIR No 306/2010 that the petitioner’s son was fired at by the CRPF personnel but they closed the case as “untraced”. CRPF also admitted the fact that they had fired teargas shells in “self-defense”.
When Sara lost her daily wager son, she filed her pangs of destruction and dejection to the Commission.
The police stated that “the fire upon the deceased was either accidental or un-intentional. The case registered in terms of FIR No 304/2010, was later closed as “untraced” as the CRPF personnel was not “identified.” CRPF, however, stated that the petitioner’s son fell to the bullet fired in ‘self-defense.’
In Frisal Chowk, Jehangir Ahmad Bhat, was killed by forces. His father Mohammad Yousuf petitioned that action should be taken against the erring forces who had killed his son.
The respondents stated that “some shots were fired for keeping away the miscreants from damaging the government properties”. The Police Station, Kulgam had registered FIR No 93/2010 and challan was submitted in court of law.
“Why had not police taken precautionary measures? Why they had not summoned the District Administration? Why had not they asked for Magistrate to be on duty?” observes the commission. Giving them an occasion to assemble in Frisal Chowk was an “act of complacency and so firing was not justified without the orders of a District Magistrate.”
(Chief minister in 2010, Omar Abdullah speaks in assembly over the killings)
Ghulam Hassan Bhat in his petition submitted that his son Ashiq Hussain Bhat was going to tuition centre with his colleagues and on reaching Chanser, Chawalgam, the security forces indiscriminately fired upon his son and his blood loss on roadside accelerated his death.
Police, however, claims that Ashiq was a member of violent mob procession and security forces fired in self-defense for safety of their own person and for the safety of the government property. This has been recorded by the police in FIR No 161/2010.
“We have considered the rival contentions and have also examined the evidence of both the parties. The victim therefore, had fallen causality to the firing of the security forces including the police. The evidence and circumstances of the case clearly indicates that mob processions were not being checked in advance.”
From North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, two persons filed their petitions: Mohammad Maqbool War and Jehangir Ahamad Zargar.
Old man, War lost his son, Khurshid. He pleaded that his son was innocent but was “murdered deliberately by the security forces.”
The police stated that Khurshid was part of an “unruly mob”, reflected in FIR No 77/2010. The Commission on examination found that “the deceased was at home and he had heard slogans of a mob and wanted to see it and accordingly tried to go towards the sight of mob but was targeted with a fire at Mandibal bridge, Kupwara.”
(Protesters mourn the death of a young boy amid the heavy presence of government forces)
Zargar petitioned the commission about the death of his 18-year-old brother, Mudasar Hassan. Zargar submitted that his brother was killed by the CRPF in his presence on August 13, 2010. “He (Mudasar) heard about a mob demonstration and wanted to see what is happening outside but he was fired a shot by the CRPF personnel and died spontaneously.”
The defense statement reveals that a huge demonstration was out on roads and became violent and according to the orders of the Duty Magistrate on spot some shots were fired in self-defense and because of this incident petitioner’s brother “fell victim to a bullet at the hands of unknown and unidentified security personnel and died.”
The Magistrate has stated “he never permitted firing upon the mob which the CRPF did on their own in self-defense.” The Commission observes that “the firing at the hands of the CRPF has been unprovoked and disproportionate.”
Ghulam Mohammad Teli, Mugli, Mohammad Ayub Bhat and Ghulam Ahmad Lone filed their petitions about the incident which had occurred on August 1, 2010.
Teli has alleged that his 19-year-old daughter Afroza died in the incident. Mugli has stated her 23-year-old son was a PHE daily wager and became victim of police firing. Mohammad Ayub Bhat has stated that his 11th class student son Javed Ahmad Bhat died in the same incident and Ghulam Ahmad Lone has also alleged that his son Mohammad Amin also died in the same incident.
The FIR No 144/2010 about the incident stands registered where it is explained that the “violent mob proceeded towards Police Post building and became un-controlled. The police post was housing some explosives which caught fire and flames went off and many persons got injured which resulted into the death of four persons.”
However, the medical evidence on record has established that all the four persons appeared to have been dead in an “indiscriminate firing”. The Commission is satisfied to conclude that all “the four petitions that the four persons had different types of injuries which were targeted injuries.”
(Empty bullet cartridge shown by a protester (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
In another set of applications about the death of Muzaffar Ahmad Mir, Aijaz Ahmad Gujree and Javed Ahmad Rather on September 13, 2010, the police and CRPF had identical response of “firing in self-defense” explained in FIR No 165/2010.
The Commission concludes that “advance security measures had not been taken by the administration, particularly the police. The local administration was totally absent from the scene therefore the public and the security forces had targeted each other according to their own whims and caprice.”
It adds that “the failure of the administration therefore had provided an opportunity to violence at the hands of some uncontrolled persons and an ugly turn took place causing death to three innocent persons.”
A 34-year-old Sara has become widow when she lost her husband, Abdul Ahad Reshi in unprovoked firing of Railway Protection Force on August 5, 2010 at his Pulwama shop. He fought the battle of life for four months and finally succumbed. Sara had to sell his land of 10 marlas to fund his treatment.
The police responds that Reshi died as a ‘causality’ in protective firing at the hands of Railway Protection Force. The Commission says “Reshi has died due to an unprovoked firing at the hands of the security forces.”
Abdul Aziz Malik has lost his 30-year-old son Shabir Ahmad Malik, a Sumo Driver by profession due to the bullet of the security forces on August 5, 2010.
According to police, the mob of around 300 people had gone violent on the funeral of Mohommad Yaqoob Bhat and attacked the security personnel who were on law and order duty. Malik, they say was part of funeral. Without orders of firing from the duty Magistrate, the Commission observes that “Malik has died due to target fire.”
An old city resident, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai told the Commission that his son Anis Ahmad, a class 12th student of Gandhi Memorial College was killed by CRPF due to their unprovoked firing on August 3, 2010.
(Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah interacts with an injured youth undergoing treatment at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar on Thursday. 5 August 2010- KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)
The respondents explained in FIR 114/2010 that deceased was one of the accused among the violent demonstrators who were intended to kill the security forces. “In self-defense they fired some rounds as a result Anis Khurshid Ganai became the victim and died.”
The Commission terms the statement and evidence of defense as a “false and concocted mess of lies.” “Had the public became violent intending to kill the CRPF personnel then of course many rounds would have been fired by CRPF personnel injuring many of the demonstrators,” the COI said.
About the death of Javid Ahmad Malla on June 20, 2010, the police says he was part of the violent mob who died as a result of injuries of firing in ‘self-defense’. The police had registered the case in terms of FIR No 83 of 2010.
However, the Commission observes that “if the police was under threat of violence by a public mob, why had not they called the Magistrate who would have been in a position to take decision as to what type of force could be used against the demonstrators.”
The Commission concludes that “firing was not justified and the mere will and volition as a weapon of controlling the demonstrations.”
Dilshada, stated in her application that her son Mohammad Rafiq Bangroo was returning from work on June 12, 2010 when he was arrested by the security forces and was ruthlessly beaten, tortured and was taken to the hospital but died on June 19, 2010.
The FIR 80/2010 explains that violent mob had come out from different corners of Noor Bagh area and Rafiq died in ‘suspicious circumstances’ and afterwards he was shown as one of the accused in a criminal challan submitted before the Court of Law.
“The statements of the police and their defense strategy is neither logical nor convincing and can fall flat under the sunshine of truth,” the Commission said, insisting, “Bangroo was arrested, beaten, tortured and then died in the hospital as a case of cardiac arrest.”
Khatija pleaded before the Commission that her 20-year-old daughter Fancy Jan was killed when she was sitting by the side of window in her house on July 6, 2010. The police say Fancy died because of “stray fire”. The commission feels ‘disgusted’ and reports that “this is really a shameful tragedy which has taken place at the hands of the security forces and the police in joint operation during the law and order duty on July 6, 2010 that an innocent died at home.”
(A father carries the body of Sameer Rah, a class 2nd student killed in 2010 (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
A class 2nd student Sameer Ahmad Rah was “brutalized by the security forces and died as a result thereof”. This is the petition of his father, Fayaz Ahmad Rah. The respondent’s defense is that the boy had died in “public stampede”.
The FIR 93/2010 is that the case was challaned as not admitted and it was further contended that the deceased was victim of public stampede on August 2, 2010.
“A budding child of seven years of age appears to have been tortured and brutalized by the security forces when he had gone out of his house on the day of curfew,” the commission said, “The police have most shamefully closed the case as not admitted just to cover up the misdeeds of their fellow standers by (CRPF).”
Regarding the cause of death of Mohammad Yaqoob Bhat, police submitted that he was one of the accused in FIR No 95/2010 who was fired upon by CRPF in “self-defense when 300-400 persons attacked their bunker.”
The Commission in its report raised query that “if mob attacked the bunker, why only a single person was shot who died in the hospital?” It adds that “the firing was neither in self-defense nor in the air and nor towards the mob but a single fire has been towards one individual that is the deceased who died instantaneously while being taken to the hospital.”
Ghulam Mohi-u-Din Shiekh has presented the petition alleging therein that his mother was killed by the security forces while striking a stone upon her chest on August 6, 2010. The police maintained that “miscreants pelted stones in darkness upon the security forces and the police and one stone missed the police and targeted the mother of the petitioner.”
The Commission is satisfied that on the basis of evidence which is non-controversial on both sides the petitioner has lost his mother due to stone pelting incidents at dark hours of the night.
The sole case where commission heard similar arguments from the petitioner and the respondents is that of a class IV employee Shafiq Ahmad Sheikh. “Shafiq was dead because of an injury which he received due to stone pelting while he was on his way to duty on October 30, 2010.”
Mother of 18-year-old Fida Nabi, Zahida presented the application before the Commission where she stated that her son; a class 12 student had gone to tuition but became victim of CRPF firing on August 3, 2010.
The police stated that Fida died when a bullet was fired at mob in ‘self-defense ‘on the orders of Duty Magistrate. A claim explained in FIR No 189/2010. However, the Duty Magistrate has categorically stated that “he had not issued orders for any firing upon the mob.” Therefore, “the petitioner’s son appears to be the sole target of fire because had there been some firing upon the mob or had the police thrown teargas shells some other persons would have been injured.”
Abdul Qayoom Bhat petitioned that his 17-year-old son Omar Qayoom was ruthlessly beaten by Police cops of Soura Police Station and CRPF men on August 8, 2010 and because of custodial torture he succumbed to his injuries in SKIMS on August 25, 2010. He had gone out for Friday prayers in the holy month of Ramadan.
The police rejected the claim and reported that “Omar was admitted in SKIMS Soura by his parents on August 23, 2010 for treatment and died and the dead body has been taken by his parents and buried in graveyard at Malik Sahib Soura.”
However the Commission after examining the case recommended registration of a murder case against police personnel as the CoI observes that “we are satisfied with the contention of the petitioner that his son died because of Police torture after he was arrested and are of firm opinion that this is custodial death and makes recommendations that a case should be registered against such police officials of Police Station, Soura who were on duty on August 20, 2010 and are responsible for the action.”
(The funeral procession of 17-year-old Fiuda Nabi (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
The Commission holds responsible two police officials for the death of 12-year-old Wamiq Farooq Wani. Wamiq was “killed by a target fire and the specific allegation is that ASI Abdul Khaliq and Constable Mohammad Akram of J&K Police are responsible for his death.”
The Police have contested the case in terms of FIR 12/2010 indicating that “in order to disperse the unruly mob mild force was used such as tear-smoke shells, as a result thereof one shell hit a boy who was taken by the locals to the hospital who had succumbed to the injuries and it appeared later on that the injured person was Wamiq Farooq.”
“Brain matter was flooding out with the blood,” reports the doctor. The Commission on the basis of the evidence and the admissions made from both the parties comes to a definite conclusion that the “two erring police officials had killed Wamiq in unprovoked firing on the unfortunate date i.e. January 31, 2010”
In case of Zahid Farooq’s killing, the investigations had revealed that Commandant of 68 Bn of BSF Ravinder Kumar Birdi and Constable Lakhvinder Kumar were found involved in this case and they were arrested and criminal challan was submitted before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar.
The commission establishes that “the evidence produced from both sides has undoubtedly proved that the Commandant R K Birdi and Constable Lakhvinder Kumar are liable for having fired upon victim Zahid Farooq son of the petitioner on the date of occurrence. These two accused were awarded punishment by the BSF authorities.
Justice Koul in his report has suggested few measures to be taken up like “local administration should always be made responsible, collaborative, vigilant and active in dealing with the situations threatening the law and order problems.”
The Commission emphasized that the “coordination and close collaboration in between the local administration and the police jointly should keep a vigilant eye and advance defense strategy should be adopted so that the people un-necessarily do not come out for threatening the law and order.”
(Justice (Rtd) M L Koul submits inquiry report to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti)
Taking dig at the attitude of local administration, the Commission suggested that “offending postures and dictatorial attitude by local administration should always be avoided in the modern age of awareness, besides the administration should develop constitutional, social and people friendly culture with the public for whose service they are posted in different administrative segments.”
The commission strongly advocated that the local police should always be responsible in meeting out the law and order situation and should not call other security forces time and again to help them in maintaining the law and order and the presence of Magistrates should be made compulsory in every disturbed area as soon as it is smelt that law and order is under threat.
Regarding the use of force, the commission suggests that the use of mild force whenever required is the first preference in all the democracies where demonstrations are controlled by use of lathi-charge, teargas shelling, cane charging, use of water cannon, pepper spray, rubber bullets etc.
The report further suggests that the main law and order duty should be exclusive subject of the local police and the presence of the security forces should be avoided as far as possible. “Every wrong doer should be made accountable before the majesty of law.”
The last suggestion of Koul commission is that the State Government may consider whether continuance of two highly controversial laws i.e. The Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act 1990 and J&K Disturbed Areas Act 1992 is necessary or not in the peaceful and less disturbed areas of the state after it is thoroughly analyzed by the CID wing of the State.
The commission in its observation reveals that the final result of the cases is a “far-fetched idea”. In all these cases, the commission reports that the “deceased have been shown as accused in the firing incident and their deaths have been shown as a result of un-intentional, un-planned or untargeted firing.”
The question mark raised by the CoI on police claims is that “who had seen the deceased either throwing a stone/brick pieces or using a lethal weapon.” The report reveals that “both the questions still remain held up in thick haze of uncertainty. No conscientious person therefore, would be ready to accept the argument that the deceased had taken up the law into his own hands and died as an assailant.”
(The deserted of Srinagar (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
The CoI in its findings suggest that 53 petitioners have been found entitled to ex-gratia relief of Rs 10.00 lacs each minus Rs 5.00 lacs already paid to the next of the kin of each deceased by the central government. The report mentions that Mohammad Ashraf Mattoo, Farooq Ahmad Wani , Zahida Begum, Farooq Ahmad Shiekh, Abdul Qayoom Bhat were not paid any compensation so far.
All the petitioners as per the report have been found entitled to a suitable job package for rehabilitation to be provided by the J&K Government for one eligible person. However, in two cases titled Ghulam Mohi-u-Din Shiekh, a resident of Basant Bagh, Srinagar and Ghulam Mohammad Mir, resident of Kreeri, Baramulla, no job package has been recommended in their favour.
The reports accuses that ‘district administration has failed in their duty’ as the firing incidents in Districts Islamabad, Kulgam, Shopian, Pulwama, Baramulla, Srinagar were without the orders of the Magistrates. “Had the administration been alive to the situation throughout the valley, the unpleasant incidents would not have been of such a magnitude,” reads the report.
The Koul Commission in its report mentions that advance arrangements in dealing with the situation have been found missing”.
Giving credit to present government of Mehbooba Mufti, the report states that “the administration could have well controlled these happenings with advance security measures as is being done in present days of unrest (2016 happenings). To be very brief on these questions again much responsibility is being shown in present unrest in preventing causalities while taking strict measures for ensuring public safety. The local administration either Tehsil-wise or District-wise in those days were indolent, indifferent and imprudent.”
As a disclaimer, the CoI mentions in report that “the findings by the Commission are in the nature of a mere advice or information for the Government and cannot determine guilt and innocence of any persons”
The First Killing
(The funeral of teeanger Tufail Ahmad Matoo in Srinagar (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur))
Tufail Matoo was the first victim in 2010. His father, Mohammad Ashraf Matoo filed this petition in the Commission that Tufail was targeted by the police and he fell dead on the spot. The Police Station Nowhatta has reported on May 5, 2015 that the case was closed as untraced and final report was submitted to the concerned court on November 29, 2012.
Ashraf in his petition referred to several killings and about his son said that Tufail was “martyred by JKP in Gani Memorial Stadium, Rajouri Kadal, Srinagar on June 6, 2010 in broad day light when he was coming back home from tuition centre.”
He had further said that “there is involvement of the Maharaj Gunj Police Station in murdering teenager Tufail. The body of deceased has also been kicked by the police after killing him.”
JKP through their legal counsel CPO have placed the defense in the context of report of Police Station, Nowhatta vide No. 403/Rioting/2015/5A/NHT dated 6.5.2015 as under. “A group of unruly mob attacked upon CT Mushtaq Ahmad No 2050/S PSO of D.O Urdu Bazar with intention of killing and kidnapped the official and snatched his service weapon. During this incident one unknown person got injured who later on succumbed to injuries. Accordingly, with regard to the incident a formal case vide FIR No. 70/2010 u/s 307, 364,392, 148,149,336 RPC was registered in Police Station MR Gunj and the investigation was taken up by Police Station MR Gunj. During the course of investigation of the said case all legal formalities were fulfilled and the deceased was identified as Tufail Ahmad Matoo, a resident of Saida Kadal, Rainawari.
Being a case of important nature, Matoo’s case was re-opened by DPO vide order No 3583 dated March 18, 2014. The Commission does not feel any hesitation to conclude that the boy was killed by the Police Officials of P/S MR Gunj who had halted their Gypsy and entered into the Ghani Stadium.
“We hold that undoubtedly that the petitioner’s son has been killed by the police firing by the police officials of MR Gunj who had gone on law and order duty to Ghani Stadium on the date of occurrence. We of course cannot pen down on record about the identification of the accused or the accused persons liable for causing the death.”
The commission in its reports says that “we therefore, deem it our supreme judicial duty to request the JK Government that in the interests of justice and fair play an appropriate decision be taken whether the case should be handed over to CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) for result oriented investigation with respect to the death of Tufail Ahmad Mattoo.