reveals that the levers directing or misdirecting it lie somewhere deep inside the security system that controls Kashmir and the way the territory is governed.
If the biological evidence on the victims’ bodies has survived underground for four months who will it be matched with? If it does not match the four police officers who are out on bail after being accused of destroying evidence in the case and dereliction of duty who will the investigators turn to? Will it be matched with the Neelofar’s husband who is also brother of Asiya? Will the CBI investigation also reach a dead-end if the only five people attached with the case are ruled out as culprits?
The CBI is now under court orders that prohibit it to reveal any information about its investigation or findings to media.
Indirectly, the court order effectively imposes a ban on media to report the investigation process. When CBI finally reports its findings to the state High Court, would it have matched the evidence retrieved from the victims’ graves with thousands of police and central forces personnel, including 44 RR (Rashtriya Rifles) who were present in Shopian during the night of the crime? Will the investigation go to Tamil Nadu where the 166 Battalion of CRPF was relocated from Shopian during the early aftermath of the incident? Without doing that, the CBI investigation will in all probability reach a dead-end if the four suspended police officers or the victims’ families could not be linked to the crime. This is precisely where the fears of an Asrar Dar being done on the people come from and makes the task of CBI political in nature.
Before the CBI concludes whether rape was committed on the victims and finds out the reason of their deaths, it is of paramount importance to trace the process of earlier cover-ups, identify the officials involved and establish their motives. Without the latter the former will always exist in the territory of suspicion whatever the conclusions.
While expressing satisfaction with the way the CBI investigation has started, spokesman of Majlis-e-Mashawarat (MM), Mohammad Shafi Khan sums up the scope of justice possible in the case. “Without addressing the basic reasons for a highly militarized environment in which the crime happened it is difficult to expect full justice to the victims and their families,” Khan said. “We will wait and see the outcome.” The Shopian case has already become a micro representation of the Kashmir case itself raising a plethora of questions that make Kashmir a “cause” and Shopian a bloodied landmark in the course of its history.
A large black banner hanging from the fence of the graveyard where Neelofar and Asiya are buried captures the poignancy of the public yearning for justice under an institutionalized dominance. It has a couplet by legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz written in contrasting white: Banay Hain Ahl-e-Hawas Mudaee Bhi Munsif Bhi…Kisay Wakeel Karein Kisay Munsifi Chahein (The perpetrators have become the prosecutors and the petitioners themselves, who do we appoint our advocate and from whom should we seek our representation).
(The author is a senior journalist who has reported for New Delhi based Star TV and Mail Today. He has also written for international newsmagazine Time)