SRINAGAR: More than five months after the killing of Class 10 student Bilal Ahmad Denthoo of Kupwara on July 16, despair is gripping the family.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Handwara, before whom the family filed an application so that an FIR can be registered against the accused police officer, transferred the case to CJM Kupwara. The CJM Kupwara heard the case, before transferring it back to CJM Handwara, citing “personal reasons.”
Now the Additional Deputy Commissioner Handwara, Peer Muzaffar, who is heading the inquiry into Bilal’s death, has told Kashmir Reader that “The concluding report will be submitted in a week.”
This is the same Bilal Ahmed Denthoo whose family was consoled by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, along with those of two other killed civilians during a meeting held at Dak Bungalow Kupwara in July. Mufti conversed with the family of Bilal Ahmad Denthoo for half an hour and promised that “justice would be delivered in three days.” The meeting was also attended by Sajjad Lone, Minister for Social Welfare and MLA of the area.
After the meeting, the state government ordered a magisterial inquiry, of which Bilal’s maternal uncle Ajaz Ahmad Denthoo says, “Nothing is known.”
On July 16, Bilal, according to police, was killed by unidentified gunmen. His family contested the police claim and alleged that Bilal was killed by the then top police officer of the district.
Bilal’s maternal uncle told Kashmir Reader that the boy had gone out of home to buy soap. At some 100 metres distance from the home, his nephew was shot at by the police officer “who at that time was travelling in his vehicle along with his team.” Bilal with a firearm injury was rushed to District Hospital Handwara where he was declared brought dead.
Abdul Rashed Denthoo, Bilal’s father, told Kashmir Reader that when Mehbooba Mufti met the family at Dak Bungalow Kupwara, she heard their account and then assured that “justice would be delivered in three days.”
Additional Deputy Commissioner Handwara, Peer Muzaffar, told Kashmir Reader on phone that “The concluding report will be submitted in a week.” He did not share the nature of the report but said that “due to unavoidable situation prevalent in the area, it (inquiry) could not be completed (on time).”
Days after the meeting with the CM, Bilal’s family through a counsel filed an application before Chief Judicial Magistrate Handwara for an FIR to be registered against the police officer. The family’s counsel told Kashmir Reader that the CJM transferred the case to CJM Kupwara citing reasons that it did not fall under his jurisdiction. The case went to CJM Kupwara who, after hearing the case eight times, transferred it back to CJM Handwara citing “personal reasons”.
In the earlier hearings, the family’s counsel said, CJM Kupwara asked police to set up a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe the death. Its investigating officer Fayaz Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that he had in his report asked for the dead body to be sent for post-mortem.
“Because there were conflicting versions about it, I had recommended the body should be sent for post-mortem. I don’t know why it has not happened,” Fayaz Ahmad said.
In the latest hearing of the case, the CJM Handwara listed it for another hearing.
“We were promised justice in three days. Five months have passed and the killer of my son is roaming free. I don’t see justice anywhere,” said Bilal’s father, a mason by profession and father of three children.
Abdul Rashed said his son was pious, humble and responsible.
“He had so much respect for me that he never looked into my eyes directly. The government offered me money but I refused. I want to see my son’s killer punished,” Abdul Rashed said.
Despite repeated attempts, minister Sajjad Lone did not respond to calls of Kashmir Reader.
Bilal’s case is just one of many where “justice is nowhere to be seen”. The government had ordered a magisterial inquiry also into the killings of three civilians, including two women, in army firing in Qazigund area of Kulgam district. Subsequently, the DC ordered a probe. According to a government notification, ADM Ghulam Hassan Sheikh was appointed as the inquiry officer and was directed to submit report within 15 days.
“I could not work on it due to the prevailing situation. Phones were not working and by the time semblance of normalcy began to appear, I was transferred. For the latest (in the case), call the concerned ADM,” Sheikh told Kashmir Reader.