SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court has issued a notice to government of India on an application seeking its impleadment through ministries of home and defence in a case involving custodial disappearance of Mansoor Ahmad Dar, the chemist who was subjected to enforced disappearance in 2002.
Hearing the application filed by Dar’s wife—Mst Jana—a single bench of Justice Tashi Rabstan directed the GoI to file the reply within two weeks.
The court also directed state government to file the latest status about the sanction of prosecution of army’s Brigadier Kishore Malhotra, the main accused in Dar’s disappearance from his home at Rawalpora here during the night of January 18-19, 2002.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Police concluded that Dar “could have died in custody of the Indian army’s 35 RR.”
The SIT accordingly altered the case from abduction and invoked RPC Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) against Brigadier Kishore Malhotra.
One of the reasons delineated by the SIT in concluding the involvement of Brigadier Malhotra was wrong information about his presence during the night Dar was subjected to enforced disappearance. While Malhotra had told the SIT that he, along with personnel of 35 RR, had conducted a cordon and search operation of Raupora Chadoora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, the police probe established otherwise.
“As per statements by concerned police officials on the basis of police records and also according to the statement by a local numberdar (village head), no such operation was laid down (sic) on the night intervening January 18/19, 2002,” the SIT added.
The SIT filed the report in pursuance to the direction by the high court during the hearing of a petition filed by Dar’s wife, Jana.
Jana has stated that soldiers of 35 RR had come to her house during the intervening night of January 18 and 19, 2002, and took her husband along with them.
“It was completely dark…army personnel were holding torches,” she said. The officer, she added, was accompanying the army party that revisited her house “two to four times” after the first raid.
Soon after Dar’s abduction, Jana filed a complaint with the police and a FIR (33/2002) under Section 364 was registered at police station Saddar. However, police had concluded the case as “unreached.”
Jana had also deposed before a magistrate that she was not content with the closure report filed by the police and demanded further investigation into the matter. Subsequently, the magistrate directed the investigating officer to conduct the investigation “de novo” (from the beginning). Jana’s charges against the army were later corroborated by an inquiry conducted by Chief Judicial Magistrate Budgam. Subsequent to the inquiry by the CJM, the HC directed the SHO of police station Saddar to conduct the investigation into the FIR already registered (no 33/2002 under section 364 RPC) expeditiously.
During the course of investigation, the police recorded statements of various witnesses, including Jana and her daughter Bilquees.
Both of them revealed that Malhotra, who was then posted at Old Airport Srinagar, knew the circumstances leading to Dar’s abduction and subsequent disappearance.
On January 20 this year, Dar’s family offered his funeral in absentia. It was the first such case when the family performed the funeral prayers for a missing member without a grave or a body.