Amnesty Report: ‘Dark’ Murder of 17-year-old Irfan Ganai

KL NEWS NETWORK

SRINAGAR

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In pic, relatives mourning the murder of Irfan Ganai.

More recently, army authorities have refused to cooperate with police investigations in the case of 17-year-old Irfan Ganai’s death on 30 June 2013.

Irfan Ganai was sleeping at his cousin’s house on the night of 30 June 2013 in Markundal village, Ganderbal district, when he and his older cousin, Reyaz, woke to the sound of gunshots outside the house. There had been a series of livestock thefts in recent weeks, so they went outside to investigate. “Irfan went a few steps ahead of me,” Reyaz recounted. “We didn’t see the army personnel that surrounded the house. Nobody’s lights were on, so we couldn’t see.” Suddenly, Reyaz heard a gunshot and saw Irfan collapse in front of him, blood seeping through his shirt where the bullet had hit him. He was dead when he hit the ground.

His mother heard the firing from the next house and came out shouting, “Irfan, where is my Irfan?” When she saw Irfan’s body, she lay down and placed her head on his chest and refused to move.

“We know that sometimes when the security forces kill innocents, they try to place a gun on their chest, take a picture to show the police, and then say he’s a militant. We refused to let that happen. We stayed with his body all night. We fought very bravely, and wouldn’t let the body go. We called the Sumbal police station, but they took 15 hours to reach our house. The army personnel kept firing into the air that whole time, trying to scare us, but we would not let go of the body,” Reyaz said.

“Irfan would never have gone into the yard if he had seen the army vehicles, but we didn’t know. We didn’t see. After the army fired, they turned on their headlights from their vehicles and we could see more than 10 army men in the yard.”

Police at Sumbal police station in Ganderbal District registered a First Information Report against unidentified army personnel in a case of murder on 30 June 2013. On 7 August 2013, the Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Sumbal addressed a letter to the District Superintendent of Police, Bandipora, informing him that Sumbal police station had sent letters to the Commanding Officer of the 13 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) on 2 July, 16 July, and 3 August requesting the list of army personnel who participated in the operation on 30 June 2013 in Markundal, the types of weapon carried by each army personnel, and details of vehicles used in the operation with the details of drivers, both civilian and army. He reported that “the army authorities till date [7 August 2013] have not furnished any information as was requested… which has hampered the investigation of the case.”

On 9 August 2013, the 13 RR finally wrote to the District Superintendent saying that they had approached the higher headquarters for sharing the details, and assured full cooperation from the army’s side. However no information was shared. On 27 September 2013, the Sub-Divisional Police Officer sent another reminder to the Commanding Officer of the 13 RR stating that the requested information had still not been provided. To date, the army has failed to respond to the police’s request for information.

On 5 October 2013, police filed charges against a civilian, Manzoor Ahmad Sheikh, for murder and conspiracy to murder in the case. Sheikh, who is currently on trial, worked as an informer for the 13 RR, and had accompanied the army to Markundal during the operation when Irfan Ganai was shot and killed.

A legal officer closely involved in the prosecution agreed to speak with Amnesty International India on the condition of anonymity in July 2014. He said the police ceased their investigations into army involvement in Irfan Ganai’s shooting once the army refused to provide information. He said that police would file charges against army personnel if further evidence against the army comes to light. He said that no army officers or personnel had testified during police investigations or court proceedings to date, despite being summoned by the police.

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