Srinagar: It has been more than 12 years since Ghulam Nabi Bhat, a resident of Maqhdoom Sahib here, was tortured to death in custody, allegedly by paramilitary Border Security Forces.
On June 26, 2002, Bhat was arrested by personnel from 42 battalion BSF when he had gone to market to purchase groceries, according to his wife Raja Begum. Four days later on June 30, Bhat succumbed to injuries, inflicted on him due to torture during interrogation by the BSF.
Besides the 36-year-old wife, Bhat is survived by son Owais Ahmad Bhat, now 13.
Rendered destitute, the family approached police for registration of an FIR but to no avail. Finally, the family approached the State Human Rights Commission by filing a complaint on August 9, 2002.
In 2007, after enquiring into the compliant, the human rights body held that Bhat was killed due to torture, notwithstanding the claims by BSF that he had died due to accident.
While accepting Bhat’s arrest, the Director General and Commandant BSF had claimed that he sustained injuries after jumping into a nallah while trying to escape on the fateful day.
The SHRC recommended Rs one lakh ex-gratia and compassionate appointment against Class-IV post for the family. It also directed police to register a case, which the latter did it in 2008—FIR (48/2008) under 302 RPC (murder).
But despite the recommendations, no solace was provided to the family which ultimately prompted it to petition Jammu and Kashmir High Court, seeking directions to government to pay damages of Rs 30 lakhs and to appoint Raja Begum by relaxing Class-IV rules or in lieu pay Rs 4.5 lakhs under SRO-43 of 1994.
The family also sought directions to complete investigation, file chargesheet in the FIR to bring culprits to book and punish them in accordance with law.
On June 4 last, High Court’s single bench of Justice Hasnain Massodi directed Deputy Commissioner Srinagar to release Rs one lakh ex-gratia in favour of the family.
“Whether deceased was tortured to death while in custody or met an accident while making an attempt to escape are questions to be answered by the Investigation Officer. However, in the meantime, widow and her minor son, cannot be left high and dry without any support from the government. The plight of (family) cannot be left unresponded and allowed to wait till conclusion of investigation,” the bench said and directed the Deputy Commissioner to release Rs one lakh as ex-gratia to the family.
“The (Deputy Commissioner) is expected to appreciate that the (family) have to be provided sustenance so that they are in a position to sail through and make both ends meet,” the court said and directed the Deputy Commissioner to file the compliance report by or before next date of hearing on August 6.
However, even as more than a month has passed since the latest directions by the court, the order is yet to be complied with by the authorities.
“I went to Deputy Commissioner’s Office twice in last week alone and I was told that the order has not been received as yet,” Raja told Kashmir Reader.
She urged authorities to take her plight into consideration and release the amount without any further delay.
Meanwhile, the High Court has also asked Station House Office of police station Lal Bazaar, who is investigating the case, to file latest report into the case on the next date of hearing. The direction followed after the IO informed the court that substantial progress has been made to complete the investigation.