Except from holding a brief meet with the father of one of the four killed youth on Saturday, there seems to be no takers for Justice (Retd) M L Koul commission of inquiry mandated by the government to probe an incident of shootout at Gagren-Shopian that took place on September 7.
Justice (Retd) Koul who visited Shopian Saturday was amazed to see no witnesses or the families coming forward with a formal petition regarding the killing of the four youth. “I came by road from Jammu and straightway visited Shopian to meet the families of the deceased youth. But except from one person who is the father of one of the four killed youth, nobody came to see me. Surprisingly, no formal petition has been filed by any of the affected families’ sofar,” Justice (Retd) Kould told KNS on phone from Shopian.
He said unfortunately two months down the line since he was appointed as the head of an one-man commission of inquiry to probe the circumstances which led to killing of the four youth, none of the families have filed a formal petition despite repeated notifications widely publicized in the press.
“I want to remind these families again that any probe could be started only after they file a formal petition which I have allowed them to file in Urdu language by or before December 23 in the office of deputy commissioner Shopian or in my office in room number 64 ground floor civil secretariat,” Justice (Retd) Koul informed KNS.
He said the last date for submission of petitions expires on December 23 and if the petitions are not received by this date, the commission will decide about its future course of action. Last month, the Commission had issued a notification asking people to submit their facts regarding the killings.
“My sole aim is to know the truth and deliver justice. This is the purpose for which I have been mandated to probe this matter and unless the affected families do not cooperate nothing can be done,” Justice (Retd) Koul added.
Owing to the non-submission of affidavits from the victims and others, the commission had on November 23 extended the date for submission of affidavits from the victims and interested persons till December 23.
The CRPF personnel of the 14th Battalion at Gagran camp in Shopian town fired upon and shot dead four persons onSeptember 7. While three of them were identified as civilians, police had claimed that the fourth unidentified person was a militant—something that locals didn’t buy arguing that he was a non-local labourer. Four days after, onSeptember 11, the CRPF personnel of the same camp had shot dead another civilian.
On September 9, a police statement had said three of the four youth killed in the September 7 shootout were civilians. However, it said the “evidences and verification suggested” that fourth “non-local looking person” was a Lashkar-e-Toiba militant.
The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had, on October 1, ordered a judicial probe into the Gagran killings, while contesting the CRPF claim that all the deceased were militants. Omar had informed the Assembly that the non-local person who was among the youth killed in the firing was a militant, a stand taken by the JK Police as well. The other three killed persons were not connected with militancy, Omar had said.
On November 25, some witnesses and relatives of those killed in the shootout had alleged that they were not informed about the visit of Justice (Retd) Koul to the town.