Confusion confounded

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He described the autopsy and forensic reports of Shopain rape and murder inconclusive, but Justice Jan himself came out not only with an inconclusive report, but with one that accuses everybody, including the victims, and confounds confusion. Zubair A Dar  reports.

TRAGEDY! People carrying body of Asiya and Neelofer            Photo: Bilal Bahadur

TRAGEDY! People carrying body of Asiya and Neelofer Photo: Bilal Bahadur

The report of Justice Jan Commission, constituted to enquire the twin rape and murder case in Shopian, is inconclusive and raises more questions than it answers. Legal experts opine that the report fails to develop an “integrated coherent viewpoint” and that the commission has “not resorted to intensive investigative enquiry.”

Acting on the recommendations of the commission, government on Friday stated that four police personnel, already under suspension on charges of destruction of evidence, will now be treated as accused. “In pursuance of the findings/recommendations of the Commission, the Government has decided that the four Police personnel, already under suspension, are to be arrayed as accused in the FIR. No. 112/09 dated 6.6.2009 registered with the Police Station Shopian insofar as their role in the destruction, dissipation and suppression of evidence is concerned,” Finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rather said.

Justice (Retd) Muzaffar Jan

Jan’s media guide

While Justice Jan’s recommendations for further investigation are entirely based on assumptions, the retired high court judge has some tips for better journalism in its recommendations.

“As the incorrect reporting directed against the administration, cause law and order problems, it would be expedient if firm guidelines are made to ensure that, before publication of any news, the authenticity of the news be verified and after proper satisfaction of the genuineness of the news, it must be published in the newspapers,” says the commission while pointing out following errors in news reports.

1. Although we have good number of matured and reasonable journalists representing various leading news papers, but at times unconfirmed and incorrect information is fed to print and electronic media to flare up the sentiments of the public.

2. The print and electronic media gave wide publicity to the last mobile call of Neelofar to her husband, alleging that she was being chased by CRPF persons around 7.00 PM on 29th May, 2009 near Rambi Ara River.

3. Shakeel Ahmad (husband of Neelofar), Syed Zeerak Shah (brother of Neelofar) and Posha (cousin sister of Neelofar) in one voice have stated in their statement before the Commission, on oath that Neelofar did not have any mobile phone, and never called, alleging chase by CRPF persons. The investigating team of the Commission, scrutinized 32686 calls and found that Neelofar did not have a mobile phone on 29-05-2009.

4. It was also reported in the press that Neelofar was pregnant, but on post mortem examination of Dr. Bilal he found that Neelofar was not pregnant.

5. The area of orchard in the press was shown in hundreds of kanals, with thousands of fruit trees, but on inspection of the orchard, the orchard initially a migrant property was found measuring 1 kanal and 16 marlas under khasra No. 158, Khewat No. 630 is in a dilapidated, neglected condition, full of weeds, wild grass with nearly 35 fruit trees in a bad shape. As the incorrect reporting directed against the administration, causes law and order problems, it would be expedient if firm guidelines are enacted and circulated to ensure that, before publication of any news, the authenticity of the news be verified.

6. It was reported in the press that the garments of the dead bodies were torn. During enquiry it was found that the Ferak and Shalwar of both the dead bodies were not torn as reported in the press.

7. It was reported in the press that Asiya had a “Sindoor marke” on her forehead. During enquiry it was found that there were a grave injury of 3 inches long and 2 inches wide 1 cm deep on the forehead of Asiya, which was bleeding even at the time of post mortem. The flow of blood on the forehead was shamefully distorted and projected as mark of “Sindoor”.

8. It was projected in the press that Constable Mohammad Yaseen made number of calls while conducting the search of death bodies on 29th/ 30th of May 2009. On call analysis of the Mobile No. 9419927653 of Constable Mohammad Yaseen, it was found that he had made only four calls during the day and no calls were made by the constable from 10.00 P.M on 29th of May to 6.00 A.M on 30th of May, 2009.

9. It was reported that there were multiple injuries on the dead body of Neelofer, both the team of doctors have given consistent statement that there were no visible external injuries on the dead body of Neelofar.

10. It was widely publicized in the press that one Jamal-uddin Gujjar has disappeared. During enquiry Jamal-ud-din Gujjar with real name as Jamal-ud-din Wani (Gujjar) S/o Yaseen Wani R/o Tatapani, Kalakote is a migrant Gujjar and was actually found living in a tent, at Dehgam along with his family and is employed as Chowkidar on Islamia Darsgah, Dehgam.

11. Although wide publicity was given that the girls have been gang raped, but during the enquiry no evidence of gang rape was found by the team of medical experts.

He said that a case will also be registered against Shri Javed Iqbal Matoo, the then SP for giving false evidence before the Commission. “The SIT will conduct further investigations in the case in accordance with the law and in terms of the directions of the Hon’ble High Court of Jammu and Kashmir,” Rather said.

Justice Jan Commission, which submitted its interim report on June 26 and sought ten more days to complete the enquiry sighting public non-cooperation as the reason, submitted its final report on July 7. The commission has recommended further investigation into the incident through Special Investigation Team (SIT) stating that it had “no powers to raid, search, interrogate and detain for sustained questioning, any suspects or witness”.

Though IG CID, Farooq Ahmad, has taken over the Special Investigation Team of police and have reportedly made some arrests as well, experts opine that the commission did not use its powers to summon persons for questioning.

“The commission had full powers to summon any person, to order full discovery of documents and to seek explanation from the persons which the commission felt would shed light on the unfortunate event,” says prominent lawyer Zaffar Shah. “The report deals with various segments of the events but fails to develop an integrated coherent view point which was expected of the commission.”

The commission, while recommending further investigation has pointed out four possible aspects of the case. First, it says that the statement of the eye-witnesses – Ghulam Mohi-ud-din and Abdul Rashid Pampori – against the role of police/security forces in the incident mandates that the matter be investigated in depth and sustained interrogation of the Police/CRPF personnel be conducted to arrive at a conclusion.

“The role of Police and Security Forces in the incident can not be ruled out at this juncture,” the report states.
While the report suspects police and other security agencies, it does not rule out the possibility that Neelofar’s husband– Shakeel Ahmad Ahanger – could be involved in the crime.

Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar

About Shakeel’s character and background, the report says that he was working with his brothers at a welding workshop at Shopian before he eloped with Neelofar Jan and went outside Shopian. After his return to Shopian, report says that he started his own business by opening a readymade furniture shop, separated from his brothers and started a separate kitchen.

“He was also looking after the education and expenses of his two sisters Roomi Jan and Asiya Jan. After few days, he was blessed with a male child thereby adding additional load to his family

expenses. In Oct, 2008 he purchased an orchard (1-Kanal, 16-Marla) in Nagbal-Dehgam for about 5.30 lacs. He also owns a Maruti car and maintains a good living standard,” says the report while detailing the background of the person whom it later accuses of not carrying “a good reputation among the society” and “known for his immoral activities.”

“His assets are quite disproportionate to his known source of income, thus requiring in depth investigation to work out the possibility of Shakeel and his friends and associates in the present incident,” says the report.

Jan also points to the rift between Neelofar’s family at village Tukru and Shakeel’s family at Bongam Shopian. The report says that Neelofar eloped with Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar in April/May, 2007, against the wishes of her family adding that “the marriage had given birth to a serious hatred of Peer family (Neelofar’s Family) towards Ahangar family of Bongam Shopian (Shakeel’s family)”.

“It is reliably learnt that Zeerak Shah (Neelofar’s brother) along with his friends had even threatened the Ahangar family of dire consequences if Neelofar is not handed over to her family,” says the report.

Detailing the changes in lifestyle of Shakeel’s family after marriage, the report says, “Till the marriage of Neelofar with Shakeel, he was living in a joint family at Bongam Shopian. But after few days even his own brothers asked him to live separately. This is clear indication suggesting the enmity between the two families.”

Causing aspersions on the conduct of Neelofar’s brother Zeerak Shah, the report says that his behaviour was “highly suspicious and objectionable after the death of Neelofar and Asiya Jan. He physically assaulted Dr Bilal at District Hospital Shopian and threatened him to disclose the opinion immediately. Even he instigated and provoked the crowd in the hospital against the Doctors and Police and civil administration of the District Shopian.”

Accusing him of pitching a tent at Tukroo and gathering his friends, relatives and other villagers for blocking the road at Tukroo and smashing window panes of the civil and government vehicles besides raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, the report recommends “sustained questioning/interrogation of Zeerak Shah, his associates and relatives be carried out so as to work out the possibility of their involvement in rape and murder of Neelofar and Asiya Jan.”
Zeerak Shah is serving constable in Traffic Department and is presently posted as Driver with Dy SP Traffic Shri Farooq Ahmad Zargar.

The fourth possible angle to the crime, for which the Jan Commission has recommended investigation, is a possible contact developed by the deceased at Nagabal (Location of Orchard).

Report says “It is quiet possible that during frequent visits to the orchard in last six/seven months, they (but more particularly Neelofar Jan) might have developed some relation with other persons.”

It says that Neelofar Jan, Roomi Jan (other sister of Shakeel) and Asiya Jan were frequently visiting the orchard that has 35 small and big fruit trees, without any pruning/cutting and ground is full of weeds.

“The purpose of their regular and frequent visit to the orchard could not be established so far,” says the report.
It further says that Shakeel Ahmed Ahanger, who had accumulated “huge property beyond his known source of income” and “not a good charactered person” who was “known for his ill deeds”, might have “come to know about this relation which could have led to the planning and execution of this incident”. It recommends thorough interrogation of Shakeel, his friends and associates to find out the truth.

Abdul Hai Shah; Father Of Neelofer

The commission further states that 46 witnesses/suspects “did not appear before the Commission despite repeated requests/messages”. These include Asiya’s sister Roomi Jan, her brother Manzoor Ahmad Ahangar, Neelofar’s father Abdul Hai Shah, her mother Aisha Begum, her sister-in-law Wazira and her brother Shahnawaz besides friends and family members. It also states that call records of 33 cell were analysed in the process of investigation. The commission, however, says that 64 witnesses were cross examined during the enquiry.

But the report has failed to impress legal experts. While Shopian Bar Association has strongly reacted to the incident, Zaffar Shah demands involving some other investigative agency “to unravel the mystery of the crime.”

“In the absence of definite conclusion, the government will have to depend fairly on the agencies investigating the crime. Doubts have also arisen as to whether the police will carry out investigation impartially and objectively because of the observations of the commission with regard to the involvement of some of the police officers,” says Shah.

Shah says that the responsibility of inquiry has not been fully discharged as was expected of the commission, particularly in the circumstances it was constituted in.

“The report of the commission is not likely to help concerned authorities in identifying with certainty the accused persons,” Shah said.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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