KL News Network
Twenty years after the “Saderkoot massacre”, and more than a year after the victim families approached the Jammu and Kashmir High Court for conclusion of investigations against the main accused Abdul Rashid Parray, alias Rashid Billa, the Jammu and Kashmir police appear to continue to shield the accused as the victim families face threats and intimidation from accused Rashid Billa, a statement issued by JKCCS this afternoon read.
“The impunity being provided to Rashid Billa and associates by the police has emboldened them and they have repeatedly threatened the victim families,” the statement said. “Due to this threat to their life, the High Court had earlier on 28 May 2015 directed the police to ensure the protection of the life and liberty of the victim families. This resulted in police personnel being stationed close to the residence of the victim families. But, in July this year, the police withdrew the protection being offered. A direct result of this has been the increased intimidation by Rashid Billa. In the first week of December, Rashid Billa sent persons posing as “militants” to tell the victim families to withdraw the case. Further, towards the end of November, Rashid Billa openly used a fire-arm on a neighbor’s house, due to a business rivalry, that immediately spread terror in the entire area. The victim families feel an immediate and present danger and anticipate increased hostility from Rashid Billa and his associates.”
“On 5 October 1996, seven members of three families in Saderkoot-Bala, Bandipora, were killed by government gunmen [Ikhwan]. FIR no. 125/1996 has to date led to no arrests and no chargesheet. This despite the fact that eye-witnesses have clearly identified the government gunmen responsible for the massacre including three alive today including prime accused Rashid Billa. The other two alive accused are: Wali Mohammad Mir and Mohammad Ayoub Dar. The family members of the victims were forced to approach the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 2015 to revive the investigations in this case [Petition no: OWP 732/2015]. As the three accused, as per the police, are “absconding” and evading arrest, the High Court and lower judiciary have passed strict orders to ensure the arrest of the accused, including by seizure of property. In May 2016 it was reported that the administration had seized the properties but in reality the seizure was superficial and all three accused continue to roam freely in the area and enjoy full access to their properties,” the statement added.
The families of the Saderkoot victims continue their struggle for justice in a case that displays the “state of impunity and violence” in Jammu and Kashmir.