Srinagar: A magisterial inquiry into the killing of seven persons at Sarai Balla and Kupwara in 2016 is in process and will take at least four months t complete, the statement government informed the High Court on Wednesday .
The seven were claimed to be militants and killed May 21 and 23, 2016. However, local people of Dragmulla, Kupwara, where five among them were killed, aver that this was a “fake encounter”.
The landlady in Sarai Balla Srinagar, at whose house the remaining two were killed, said that they were students, not militants.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by the High Court Bar Association, Kashmir, a division bench of Chief Justice Baddar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey remarked that the magisterial enquiry should be completed and directed Tahir Shamsi, counsel representing the Union of India, to file a response within six weeks.
“On 23 May 2016, two youth were killed by police in gun fight at Sarai Balla, Srinagar. Mst Raja Begum, the landlady in whose house the two youth were residing on rent, however contested the claim of the police and stated that the two youth were not militants but students who would speak in Kashmiri and only carried books and clothes with them,” the Bar said in the petition, citing media reports.
“According to reports in Chak Dragmulla village in north Kashmir, the forces blew the house where they claimed the militants were residing, but local people contested the forces’ claim that the five militants were killed in a gunfight and said the encounter was staged,” the Bar pleaded.
“The reports said that the militants had been killed nearly five to six days earlier as hair of their beards was coming off when their ablution was being performed, and the bullet wounds were festering.”
The Bar had pleaded that “in terms of Article 21 of Constitution of India as applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, no person can be deprived of his life and liberty except according to the procedure established by law”.
“The two incidents in Chak Dragmulla and Sarai Balla amply show that seven persons were killed in custody, if local people are believed,” the Bar had said.
In its objections, the police have stated that after the FIR was lodged, the police started investigation into the Sarai Balla killing incident. They said there were two militants of JeM, one was identified as Saifullah of PaK [Pakistan-administered Kashmir] and the identity of another was being ascertained.
The police had told the court that two election cards were found with two different names, one depicting its owner’s identity as Subrat Kumar Hati, son of Bijay Kumar Hati of Kankadejodi, Cuttack, Orissa, while the other card showed his identity as Muhammad Qasim, son of Allahudin of 130 Pahusana district, Arariya, Bihar.
“The identity cards were recovered from the rented room of the duo in a house at Sarai Balla, Srinagar,” read the police objections.
The police had told the court that during the investigation, correspondence was made with electoral registration officer (ERO) Athgarh Assembly constituency, Cuttack, Orissa, as well as with ERO 127 Raniganj Constituency, District Arariya, Bihar.
“A written reply from the office of the sub-collector Athgarh said that the EPIC bearing card no FCK/265/ 2651313 belongs to one Subrat Kumar Hati, son of Bijay Kumar Hati of Kankadejodi, who is found to be alive. While the reply from the electoral office 127, Raniganj, district Arariya, Bihar, regarding the EPIC has not been received,” said police in its objections, adding that reminders are sent to the electoral officer.
The police had also informed the court that during the course of investigation, DNA samples of the bodies that were taken by a team of doctors were deposited in the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh, for examination.
The police stated that a receipt from CFSL dated 6 June 2016 depicts that it would take the lab a year for the examination of the DNA samples, in view of a pendency of nearly 122 DNA samples.