Kishtwar riots: ‘Provocative mob of Hindus’ killed Mohammad Lassa, says police

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Police in its factual report to State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has said that one of three persons killed during last year’s communal riots in Kishtwar district was not killed by Village Defence Committee (VDC) members but by a “provocative mob of Hindus”.
According to the report submitted by Director General of Police (DGP), Jammu before SHRC, the police enquiry conducted into the matter has revealed that Mohammad Lassa was not killed by the VDC members “but by the provocative mob at helipad Padder, Kishtwar after they dragged him out of ambulance carrying injured victims.”
“Moreover, during the post-mortem of the deceased no sign of gun shots were observed on his body. During investigation it came to surface that there is no VDC member at Gulabgarh, Padder, where (Lassa) was killed and the allegation of killing of Lassa by VDC are not based on facts,” said the report.
On August 9, 2013, clashes broke out between Muslims and Hindus in Kishtwar town after the Eid prayers and spread to other areas. Three persons, Arvind Kumar, Bashir Ahmad and Mohammad Lassa, were killed and at least 80 persons injured during the clashes.
The SHRC had asked the DGP, Jammu to submit the factual report about the events in response to the petition filed by Advocate Aijaz Ahmad Dar on behalf of head of Hurriyat (M) legal cell Abdul Manan Bukhari seeking disbanding of VDC, an illegal group comprising mostly Hindus and funded and armed by the government and army.
The petition had accused the VDC of killing Mohammad Lassa and fanning violence and communal divide in Kishtwar district.
“VDC members have been found resorting to terror tactics, often causing greater violation of human rights by targeting civilians. Not only have they caused greater communal and ethnic divide, their very existence defies any international law. There is every possibility and apprehension that communal forces like VDCs may repeat the 1947 massacre and situation if they are not disbanded forthwith,” the petition claims.
Giving the details of the incidents, the DGP’s factual report said that on August 9, the members of Hindu community took out a protest rally at Padder and damaged shops of Muslims.
“Next day Hindu community took out a procession from Atholi and Padder. Similarly, members of Muslims of village Kijai came out of their houses and took out a procession towards Kijai. The procession of Hindu community also reached near Kijai Bridge and pelted stones upon the houses of Muslim community. In retaliation the members of Muslim Community also pelted stones upon protesters,” said the report.
Meanwhile, the report said, the Muslims blocked the road at Kajaiee and there was exchange of fire between the VDC members of Kajaiee and Hanswarch which led to the injury of three VDC members of Kajaiee and one VDC member of Hanswarch.
“The injured VDC members were taken to hospital for treatment and after giving first aid the seriously injured persons were referred to Kishtwar for further treatment,” the report said.
The report said that when the seriously injured persons were being taken to helipad Padder for their further shifting to Kishtwar, Mohammad Lassa also accompanied the injured persons in ambulance as an attendant.
“When the ambulance reached near Helipad, a provocative mob of Hindus tried to attack the ambulance. The police tried to control the mob and even fired some gunshots in the air, but the mob damaged the fencing of the helipad and forced their entry into the premises. They broke the door of the ambulance and dragged out Lassa from the ambulance,” the report said.
“The protesters taking the advantage of the heavy rain, took Lassa to some distance where he was beaten up severely due to which he died and his body was thrown near the helipad,” the report added.
The report also said that the in this connection a case (FIR No. 17/2013 u/s 364,307,147,148,336,427, 34 RPC) stands registered in police station Atholi.
“The investigation of the case has been concluded as proved against 10 accused persons of whom two have been arrested and are facing trial, while the rest have been challaned under Section 512 CrPC,” the report said.
Meanwhile, the SHRC on Thursday asked the petitioner to submit his rejoinder to the DGP’s report.
“The police have tried to cover up the VDCs in its report. SHRC has asked us to file the rejoinder, now we will challenge the police through it,” said Advocate Aijaz.