Just an FIR

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Outside the house there is a desolate silence. The neighbourhood walls are scribbled with the slogan “Go India Go Back”. Everything appears to have withered. Inside a mournful blankness engulfs the house.

The family living in Saida Kadal lost their only child on June11, when a teargas shell fired by police broke the teen’s skull. Tufail Matoo’s family wanted him to become a doctor.

“We don’t feel we are living in a house. They snatched our future from us,” said Tufail’s father, Muhammad Ashraf Matoo, as tears roll down on his face.
“The killers will have to pay for the cold blooded murder of our son,” he adds.

Tufail, a student of class 12, was killed while returning home from his private tuition classes. Some people were pelting police with stones and a teargas shell hit Tufail on the head near Gani Memorial Stadium, Rajouri Kadal in Srinagar.  The killing sparked widespread protests across the valley which claimed at least 112 young lives and left more than two thousand civilians with firearm injuries.

“My son has two graves. When police shot him, his skull broke and his brain spilled out, they did not even see that and took his corpse. The locals took his brain and buried it in a graveyard near the stadium, while his body is buried in the martyr’s graveyard, Eidgah,” said Ashraf Mattoo, amid sobs.

Tufail’s parents approached three police stations – Mahraj Gunj, Nowhatta and Khanyar – to register an FIR. As the police refused to lodge an FIR, the family went to the court so that an FIR of their son’s death was registered. Legally police is bound to lodge an FIR whenever anybody approaches it.

“Tufail was a part of our body. We don’t care about our self anymore. I know we cannot get justice from this system. But, we will struggle till our last breath,” the boy’s father said. On June 18, the family approached Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar seeking registration of an FIR into Tufail’s killing.

Police registered the FIR only after the court intervened. “Even after this, the police did not initiate any probe into the killing. In fact, the report submitted by the police in the court was vague,” Ashraf said.

The FIR 70/2010 under Section 307, 392 mentioned that at around 5 pm, (June 11) some stone pelters tried to snatch the gun of constable Mushtaq and after some time the police found a body near Gandhi Memorial Stadium which was taken to PCR (police control room) and (was) confirmed of (being) Tufail.
“This was totally wrong. At 5:34 pm our son had left the Apex Coaching Centre at Soura, how come his body would have been seen at 5 pm,” the father questioned.  He said while travelling in the bus to Gojwara, Tufail was carrying a ten rupee note and the conductor had returned Rs 5 coin, which was in his left hand even when he was dead.

“The same coin is still with me,” said Muzaffar Ahmed Shah, Tufail’s uncle. “He had reached near the Gandhi Memorial stadium after 6 p.m. on that fateful day. The first FIR was a baggage of lies which further added salt to our wounds.”

The CJM in his orders on June 19, directed SSP Srinagar to pass appropriate orders to investigate the killing and ask Police Station Nowhatta to submit a comprehensive report within 10 days. Police in its status report of July 22 informed the court that a case FIR 45/2010 under Section 302 (murder) RPC has been registered in Police Station Nowhatta in relation to the death of the teenager. However, police in a previously issued handout to the media on June 11, had stated that “police had not fired a single bullet or teargas shell in Rajouri Kadal” on the day. But, the autopsy report belied the police statement, which stated that Tufail was hit by a (firearm) projectile in the head.

Ashraf alleged that they were “receiving threats constantly from various security agencies to be silent and were being pressurised to receive compensation”. Such is the fear that we are now planning to flee from Kashmir. “We are not here to sell our son’s blood. Had this government acted to punish Tufail’s killers immediately, they could have saved more than 113 families from being shattered,” said Ashraf.

The CJM Srinagar, Y P Bournei during the latest hearing of the case observed that there was lack of coordination from the police authorities. He directed SSP Srinagar to constitute a special investigating team and submit the report within a month. The next hearing of the case would be on January 28. As the case came up for hearing, the Chief Prosecuting Officer pleaded that the magistrate for carrying out the identification parade (of policemen) had not been nominated.

“We produced an order before the CJM whereby Tehsildar Shahbaz Ahmad Boda has been nominated to carry out the identification of the accused dated October 27 issued by DC Srinagar,” said Advocate Altaf Khan, who is fighting Tufail’s case.

The production of the order copy proved embarrassing for the prosecution, who were castigated by the CJM for misleading the court and exhibiting lack of coordination, he added. “It is astonishing to note that SHO concerned is writing reminders to SDPO, as latest as December 4 and till date he is recording in the CD file that needful (appointment of magistrate) is still awaited,” CJM observed in its order.

The family is angry with what they termed as “planned attempts by the government to prolong the case”.  “When such inaccuracies can happen before the court of law, what would be happening behind the curtains,” Muzaffer said.

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