SRINAGAR: The J&K high court has upheld its single bench order, directing government to pay Rs four lakh each to 31 families who lost their kin to the “unprovoked firing” by Indian Border Security Forces at Bijbhera Anantnag in 1993.
Disposing of an appeal filed by the state government, a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasathakumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi also directed government to deposit Rs 93 lakhs with its registry within three months for onward disbursement among the victim families.
The direction by the bench followed after Additional Advocate General produced a cheque for a sum of Rs. 31 lakhs drawn in favour of the court’s Registrar Judicial.
“The Registry shall release the amount in favour of the (31) petitioners equally i.e. Rs.01 lakh to each petitioner,” the division bench said while declining the state’s government appeal against its single bench order.
“The remaining amount of Rs.93 lakhs shall be deposited by the appellants with the Registrar Judicial of this Court within three months from today and on such deposit, Registrar Judicial shall release the same at the rate of Rs. 03 lakhs to each writ petitioner,” the division bench said.
On 10 September 2007, the single bench had order government to pay compensation of Rs four lakhs to each of the 31 victim families for death of their respective close relatives.
The single bench had passed the ordered on a petition filed by the 31 persons against the Government of India and the State Government with a contention that the incident which took place on 22 October 1993 at Bijbehara was due to unprovoked firing by the BSF.
“The issue as to whether the state Government can be saddled with the liability to pay the compensation or the central Government in such cases was considered by the division court on 11 August this year and it was held that (BSF) is to pay compensation to petitioner. However, respondents (state) cannot escape from liability to pay the compensation as it is at their instance that BSF has come to aid and assistance (it) for maintenance of law and order. (The state) therefore (is) to pay the compensation awarded, from Security Related Expenditure (SRE) provided by Central Government or in absence of availability of such funds to mobilize their source to pay compensation to the appellant,” the court added.
After Friday prayers on the fateful day, a procession of about 2000 to 3000 persons had taken off from Jamia Masjid, Bijbehara against the siege of Hazratbal shrine.
While raising slogans, the demonstrators went towards Jammu-Srinagar highway and when they reached near Goriwan, BSF personnel from 47th battalion fired upon them due to which many civilians got killed and injured.
Subsequently an FIR (No.90/1993) was registered under Section 302 and 307 RPC and the investigation commenced.
A magisterial inquiry, as per Inspector General of Police Kashmir, found BSF personnel involved and sanction for their prosecution was sought.
The magisterial inquiry report, submitted to the government on 13 November 1993, recommended dismissal of accused persons who committed the killings followed with initiation of criminal proceedings. 11 BSF personnel allegedly involved in the incident were also identified.
“The magisterial inquiry report was not disputed by the BSF or the police authorities. The accusations were found against the BSF personnel in the inquiry report and a finding was rendered stating that the firing was carried out without any provocation,” the court added.