Srinagar: The J&K high court has expressed hope that the police will conclude its investigation into the alleged custodial disappearance of civilian Manzoor Ahmad Dar, from Rawalpora in 2002, and ensure justice is meted out to the victim family.
The observation was made by a bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar after additional advocate general Bashir Ahmad Dar informed the court that a team of police officers was soon visiting concerned army division to ascertain whereabouts of Major Kishore Malhotra, the officer believed to be behind the custodial disappearance of the civilian.
“Efforts are on to seek particulars of Major Kishore Malhotra and other personnel of 35 RR and in order to ascertain (their) whereabouts, a team of officers is scheduled to visit the concerned army division,” Dar said and sought some time from the court in this regard.
Dar made the statement in view of the observations by the court last month that the police needed to arrest the army officer and subject him to custodial interrogation.
“The SIT directed to investigate the matter failed to realize that Manzoor Ahmad Dar has not been seen after he was picked up by Major Kishore Malhotra and other armed forces of 35 RR during the intervening night of January 18 and 19, 2002, and has been allegedly subjected to custodial disappearance,” the court had observed after hearing a petition filed by Manzoor’s wife, Jana through counsel advocate Mian Qayoom.
“Instead of approaching the authorities for prosecution of Major Kishore for an offence punishable under section 364 RPC, the SIT should have arrested Major Kishore and subjected him to custodial interrogation and should have taken the investigation ahead to find out the circumstances (under which) Manzoor Ahmad Dar was picked up and whether he was subjected to custodial disappearance,” the court had said and directed the SIT to proceed with the investigation.
After Dar’s submissions, the court directed the police to file latest status report of the investigation and posted the case for further consideration on week commencing from August 24.
“It is hoped that the investigating agency will take all steps, in accordance with law, to bring the investigation to its conclusion and ensure that justice is meted out to the complainant (victim family),” the court added. SHO of police station Saddar was present along with a fresh status report before the court.
Jana had deposed before a magistrate that soldiers of the RR had come to her house during the intervening night of January 18 and 19, 2002, and took her husband along with them. “It was completely dark…army personnel were holding torches,” she said. Major Kishore 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 filed by the police and demanded further investigation into the matter.
Subsequently, the magistrate directed the investigating officer to conduct the investigation “de novo” (from the beginning). The magistrate also directed the police to at least hold a test identification parade of the accused persons in Jana’s presence.
Jana’s charges against the army have been corroborated by an inquiry conducted by Chief Judicial Magistrate Budgam. Subsequent to the inquiry by the CJM, the High Court had directed the SHO of police station Saddar to conduct the investigation into the FIR (no 33/2002 under section 364 RPC) expeditiously.
During the course of investigation, the police recorded statements of various witnesses, including Jana and her daughter Bilquees. Both of them revealed that Major Malhotra, who was then posted at Old Airport Srinagar, knew the circumstances leading to Dar’s abduction and subsequent disappearance.