The Jammu and Kashmir police has made a bizarre disclosure in J&K High Court that its Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to investigate the murder of teenager Tufail Mattoo on June 11, 2010, was unable to find the killers. Syed Asma accesses the closure report which offers some startling revelations!
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of J&K police made a bizarre disclosure in a Srinagar court that it could not find the killers of Tufail Mattoo, a teenager who was hit by a teargas canister fired by government forces near Gani Memorial Stadium in old city’s Rajouri Kadal area on June 11, 2010 when he was returning home from tuitions.
The incident had sparked off widespread protests in Kashmir valley in which scores of teenagers were killed. After investigating Tufail Mattoo’s killing for more than a year, the SIT filed a report stating that the investigation of the case was ‘untraced’ and the culprits ‘cannot be identified’ for now.
“All the possibility of ‘collective evidences’ in this case was explored to reach some conclusion but SIT was not able to find any conclusive evidence till now…The investigation of case has been closed as untraced. However, secret search will continue if anything comes to knowledge, the investigation of the case shall be re-opened at that time,” the police report reads.
The manner in which the SIT carried out the investigations is likely to set a precedent in other similar cases where the government forces were accused of killing innocent teenagers to quell the 2010 unrest in Kashmir valley when more than 120 persons, mostly teenagers, were killed. While the government had promised to bring the perpetrators to justice, Tufail’s case will have a cascading effect on the cases of Wamiq Farooq, Zahid Farooq, Shujaat-ul-Islam, Ishtaiq and Imitiaz, who were allegedly shot dead in different areas of Kashmir valley by the government forces.
The father of Tufail Mattoo had earlier said the government was pressuring him to strike a deal on his son’s life. Muhammad Ashraf Mattoo, who refused to accept the compensation offered by the government, had said some officers from the chief minister’s office, which he didn’t identify, had been approaching his relatives to strike a deal. “Right from the day of my son’s killing, I have been threatened to lay off. The police is making a mockery of the trial with its excuses and arguments,” Mattoo had said. With the SIT bringing a closure to the case without identifying the culprits, the development has come as a big disappointment to the family and the lawyers fighting this case.
A CULTURE OF IMPUNITY
To investigate Mattoo’s case, the J&K High Court had asked the then DG Police on Sept 26, 2011 to constitute a SIT headed by a police officer not below the rank of SP. Following the direction of the court, Tahir Saleem Khan, SP, City (North) was ordered to lead the probe. Khan submitted his report on Nov 12, 2012.
The report submitted by Khan states that during the stone pelting incident on June 11, 2010, a state police constable, Mushtaq Ahmed, was kidnapped along with his service rifle and beaten up by the ‘miscreants’. While investigating Mushtaq’s case, they found that a civilian was also injured who later died. The body was later recovered from Srinagar’s police control room’s mortuary and was identified as Tufail Ahmed Mattoo, 17, of Saida Kadal.
In his investigation report, Tahir Saleem has used hearsay incidents to support the SIT’s theory. Arshid Ahmed Mir, who has been described as a media person, is quoted saying that he heard from the public that Tufail was fleeing to evade the arrest of police and jumped from the fencing wall of Gani Stadium where he lost his balance and fell down. His head was hit by a stone which led to his death. However, Arshid has also told the police that some people in the area were claiming that Tufail was hit by a teargas shell. An FIR no 70/2010 u/s 307, 364, 392, 148, 149, 336 RPC was registered in police station M R Gunj and investigations were taken up.
The next day, media reported that Tufail was coming back from his tuitions from Hawal when a state police team chased a group of boys who were allegedly pelting stones at them. The police fired tear gas smoke canister on them one of which hit Tufail in his head, leaving him dead. —
The first autopsy report revealed that the death of Tufail was caused due to high velocity projectile fire arm injury and the preliminary investigation showed that Tufail was injured near Gani Memorial Stadium. The SIT report mentioning the statements of two major eyewitnesses writes that Mohammed Maqsood Bhat and his wife, Atiqa, told them that a white police gypsy was chasing a boy. One of the policemen fired and the boy fell down.
“Although stone pelting was going on in the nearby area….he (Maqsood) heard the sound and presumed that the policemen who were chasing the boy fired a tear gas shell but he did not saw any smoke which means a bullet was fired,” the reports says. Atiqa is quoted in the report saying that she caught hold of the policeman who fired at Tufail, but after his colleagues intervened, they fled away. “She can easily identify him; she also stated that those policemen were from M R Jung police station.”
An identification parade of the state police personnel was held wherein Atiqa identified a constable, Javid Ahmed, as the accused in the case. However, the report maintains that Javid was a tradesman posted at a tailor’s shop of District Police Lines on the fateful day. The report also mentions that the records of Safakadal, Urdubazaar and Bagiyas police stations showed that none of the police personnel from there were carrying teargas guns.
But the statement of a constable, Ghulam Mohammad, contradicts the police’s theory. In his disclosure, he told the SIT that he was accompanying the station house officer of M R Gunj in his official vehicle along with a head-constable, Abdul Majeed, who was carrying an anti-riot gun. Their vehicle was parked near Mirwaiz Manzil which is close to Gani Memorial Stadium. The SIT report mentions that he fired some blank rounds to control the mob ‘to safeguard the government property’. During the investigation, the gun was ceased and sent to CSFL, Chandigarh.
The CSFL Chandigarh report mentions that environmental particles containing iron, indicative particles containing Titanium and Zinc were found in Tufail’s head which are also left behind by anti-riot gun. The report, however, states that no unique Gun Shot Residue particles were detected from the swabs of Tufail. The gun seized from Abdul Majeed was found in ‘working condition’ and the CSFL team opined that anti-riot gun can be lethal if fired from close range. “The fire of anti-riot gun leaves unique GSR particles like lead, barium and antimony when fired on experimented target and on the wound,” the report states.
Dr Ruhi Wani, head of the team which conducted post-mortem of Tufail was of the opinion that a ‘single big’ open fatal wound was found on the head of the deceased which resulted in multiple fractures of the skull, causing his death. One of the team members told the SIT that the deceased was either hit by a hammar or a stone or must have fallen from a height on a stone or any hard thing with a projectile.
“There is a possibility as well that while running fast after turning his head back it may have hit by some conical projection from a wall,” the doctor had added.
The statements made by 49 police personnel of MR Gunj, Safakadal, Urdubazaar, Noorbagh and Bagiyas were recorded to ascertain the facts but nothing substantial came out. The SIT report is a collection of details and responses but offers no concrete conclusion on what could have possibly led to the death of Tufail. The failure of SIT in not being able to identify the culprits can be either deemed as incompetence of the investigation team or as an effort to obfuscate the facts to shield the culprits.
CHRONOLOGY OF A MURDER
JUNE 11, 2010: Tufail Mattoo, a resident of Saida Kadal is killed near Gani Memorial Stadium, sparking off wide-spread protests in Kashmir valley.
JUNE 15, 2010: Police station Nowhatta receives a docket from SHO M R Gunj through district police officer, Srinagar reporting the incident of June 11, 2010. An FIR no. 70/2010 u/s 307, 364, 392, 148, 149, 336 RPC is registered.
JUNE 15, 2010: On receiving the docket, FIR No. 45/2010 u/s 302 RPC is registered in P/S Nowhatta and investigation is taken up.
MARCH 05, 2011: Identification parade of suspected state police personnel in front of an eye witness, Atiqa, is done at Khanyar police station in presence of tehsildar, south Srinagar and a 1st class executive magistrate.
MARCH 26, 2011: Identification parade of suspected state police personnel in front of an eye witness Atiqa is done at Rainawari police station in presence of tehsildar, south Srinagar and a 1st class executive magistrate.
JANUARY 28, 2012: Swabs of the wound of Tufail Mattoo are taken from his body during his post-mortem by the doctors in presence of a magistrate. The sealed swabs are seized from M R Gunj police station.
FEBRUARY 13 – JUNE 8, 2012: Swabs are sent to director FSL Srinagar. The Director FSL, Srinagar advices to send the swabs to Baba Atomic Research Centre Trombay for the opinion because such facility is not available at Srinagar. The Swabs are returned by Baba Atomic Reserch centre, Trombay stating that the opinion can be had from FSL Maharastra Kalina Centra Cruze where such experts are available. The sealed swabs are again returned from FSL Maharashtra stating the facility of studying such swabs is available at CFSL Chandigarh.
JUNE 09, 2012: CFSL Chandigarh files its opinion that no “gunshot residue GSR” was found in the swab.
AUGUST 28, 2012: CFSL Chandigarh files its report of the seized weapon (anti-riot gun). It says anti riot gun can be lethal if fired from a close range.
NOVEMBER 12, 2012: Tahir Saleem Khan submitted the SIT report and closes the case as untraced.