Tufail Mattoo killing: Crime Branch duty-bound to conduct fair probe, says HC

Srinagar: The Crime Branch of police, which is investigating the killing of teenager Tufail Mattoo during summer agitation of 2010, “is duty bound to conduct fair and unbiased investigation to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice,” the J&K High Court has said.
“The investigating agency must gear up and conclude the investigation within reasonable period of time,” a bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar said while extending time by six weeks to the Crime Branch for concluding the investigation.
“(The killing) has taken place in June 2010 and ‘it is yet to be ascertained as to who are actual perpetrators of the crime’. Any further delay in the investigation would cast serious reflection upon the competence of the investigating agency,” the court said.
Tufail, 17, was returning home from tuition on June 11, 2010 when a teargas shell fired by the cops hit him on the head near Gani Memorial Stadium in Rajouri Kadal area of old city, killing him on the spot. The killing of the Class 12 student, the only child of his parents, had unleashed massive and unprecedented ‘street intifada’ on the streets of Kashmir. More than 120 protesters and bystanders were killed in police and paramilitary CRPF action in the six-month agitation.
“The parents of the deceased teen aged boy must be waiting for the day the accused are identified and brought to justice,” the court said.
Prior to Crime Branch, the investigation was conducted a Special Investigation Team of police, constituted on the directions by the court. But the SIT closed the case as “not proved”.
Subsequently, a closure report was accepted by a Special Mobile Magistrate (PT&E) Srinagar on March 1 last year. The order of closure was challenged before High Court by the family.
On February 14 last, the court quashed the order and entrusted the investigation to the Crime Branch Kashmir, observing that the police investigation was incomplete on many vital aspects and “it appears as if an attempt has been made to save certain police officials.”
“In our constitutional scheme, it is the duty of the State to protect the life and liberty of its citizens. When an offence has been committed, it is the duty of the State to investigate the case fairly and expeditiously and ensure that the culprits are brought to justice,” the court said.
“It has been stated more than once that until such time justice is meted out to the aggrieved persons, there will be no peace in the society. Meeting out justice to the aggrieve persons/citizens alone guarantees peace in the society,” it said.
Earlier, the Crime Branch filed a status report of its investigation which did not, however, impress the court.
“The status report would show that the investigation is being conducted in lackluster manner. The investigating agency must gear up and conclude the investigation within reasonable period of time,” the court said, giving six more weeks for concluding the investigation.
While Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom represented the family, Additional Advocate General R A Jan was present on behalf of the Crime Branch.