Srinagar: The J&K High Court has expressed its dissatisfaction over the pace of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the killing of two youths – due to police firing — in Anantnag district during the 2010 agitation.
“More than a year and a half has passed, the position has remained unchanged and SIT has not shown any satisfactory progress in the matter leaving no option but to direct SP Anantnag to be present on August 4 along with case diaries and other material,” a single bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey ordered after perusal of the latest investigation report filed by the SIT of police and hearing advocate MA Qayoom, counsel for the families of the victims—Bilal Ahmad Najar and Noor-ul-Amin Dugga.
The two youngsters were killed near Ahl-e-Hadees Masjid at Khannabal on September 19, 2010, after cops opened fire on the funeral procession of another youth Maroof Ahmad, whose body had been recovered on the fateful day. Maroof had drowned in the Jhelum on September 13 while being chased by police and CRPF personnel.
“Time and again SIT sought time to conclude the investigation and file a final report before the competent court of law. In terms of the order of 21 February 2014, the investigating agency was directed to draw a time schedule for recording the statements of witnesses sought to be produced by the informant and ensure their statements are recorded as per the schedule without any inconvenience to the witnesses,” the bench observed before directing the appearance of the SP.
The observation followed submissions by advocate MA Qayoom who questioned the delay on the part of the police to file a chargesheet in the case. “What is the investigating officer doing? Out of 101 witnesses, 94 have recorded statements before the SIT. He should file the challan,” Qayoom argued.
Monitoring the process of the case, the court on 29 August 2013 had observed that the year 2010, “in which precious lives have been lost”, deserves special attention so that the investigation was concluded with ‘convenient speed’. “While considering the matter again on 27 November 2013, this court again observed that the manner in which the investigation has been conducted does raise eyebrows, and therefore directed MA Chashoo, the then-Additional Advocate General to suggest an officer who will investigate the case.”
Subsequently, the court directed the Inspector General of police to constitute a SIT to be headed by an officer not below the rank of SP who shall carry forward the investigation. On 23 December 2013, the court had directed Junaid Mehmood, SSP Anantnag, to monitor the investigation.
The police had initially refused to register an FIR, contending that a case (FIR No. 355/2010) was already registered with regard to the drowning incident. In November 2012, a bench of Justice Virender Singh had withdrawn the proceedings of the case from Chief Judicial Magistrate Anantnag for monitoring by the High Court so as to avoid “miscarriage of justice.”
In its report, the State Human Rights Commission had stated that the case (FIR No. 355/2010 under section 188, 147, 148, 336, 427, 307 RPC, 3-4 Public Property [Prevention of Damages] Act-1985) was actually registered against the two slain youths.