Custodial disappearance: HC directs parade of 35 RR’s men including Major

Srinagar: The J&K High Court has directed Srinagar police to bring in an army Major and other soldiers of 35 Rashtriya Rifles for identification parade in connection with the disappearance of a man from Rawalpora area here in 2002.
“Not much has been done by the investigation agency to secure presence of Major Kishore Malhotra and other personnel of 35 RR,” a bench of Justice Hasnain Massodi observed while hearing a petition filed by Mst Jana, wife of Manzoor Ahmad Dar, the disappeared.
“Status report (filed by police) would reveal that Major Malhotra and other personnel of 35 RR stationed at Old Airport have not till date appeared for identification parade. A closer look at the statement of facts reveal that (their) presence is found necessary by the investigating officer to take (investigation) to its logical end,” the court said.
It also observed that no communication or reminder has been sent to the army by the investigation officer after June 11 last year.
“A communication has been addressed way back on February 17, 2014 to GoC, BB Cant, and remainder sent on March 10, 2014. The last communication is addressed on June 11 2014,” the court observed.
Against this backdrop, the court directed SSP Srinagar to take necessary steps to ensure presence of the accused Major and other personnel before the investigating agency within four weeks “so that investigation is taken ahead and justice does not elude the old lady.”
Mst Jana had deposed before the magistrate that soldiers of the RR had come to her house during the intervening night of January 18, 19, 2002, and took her husband along with them.
“It was completely dark…army personnel were holding torches,” she had deposed.
Major Malhotra, she added, was accompanying the army party that revisited her house “2-4 times” after the first raid.
Jana had also deposed that she was not content with the closure report and demanded further investigation into the matter.
Subsequently, the Magistrate directed the investigating officer to conduct the investigation “denovo” (from the beginning). The Magistrate enjoined upon the police to at least get the test identification parade of the accused persons from Jana.
Jana’s charges against the army have been corroborated by an inquiry conducted by Chief Judicial Magistrate Budgam, according to an earlier order by the High Court on May 28, 2010.
Subsequent to the inquiry by CJM, the High Court had directed Station House Office of police station Sadder here to conduct the investigation expeditiously.
During the course of investigation, the police recorded statements of various witnesses including Jana and her daughter Bilquees. Both of them had revealed that Major Malhotra, who was then posted at Old Airport Srinagar, has the knowledge of the circumstances leading to Dar’s abduction and subsequent disappearance. Besides wife Jana, Dar’s has two daughters and two sons.
Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom represented Jana before the court.