Srinagar: The high court on Tuesday directed the personal appearance of a police officer investigating the massacre of seven civilians allegedly by the infamous Ikhwan (government gunmen) at Sadrakoot in Bandipora district on 5 October, 1996.
“It emerges from the status report (filed by the police) that the investigation into the case is almost complete and the search for absconding accused persons is continuing. It is, however, to be ascertained as to what steps have been taken by the investigating officer to seek transfer of custody of the accused Mohammad Ayub Dar from TA of 161 Bn and also lay hands on the two other accused — Abdul Rashid Parray (alias) Rashid Billa and Wali Mohammad Mir,” a bench of Justice Bansi Lal Bhat said.
The court observed that the case diaries are required to be gone through for ascertaining as to whether the investigating officer has initiated necessary steps for declaring Rashid Billa and Mir as proclaimed offenders. To ascertain this, the court directed the IO to appear in person on March 22.
The directions by the court followed submissions by advocate Parvaiz Imroz, representing the victims’ families, that Rashid Billa and Wali Mohammad Mir were hiding, while Mohammad Ayub Dar is working with 161 Bn of the Territorial Army.
Imroz made his submissions while referring to the status report and also contended that no effective steps were being taken by the police to secure the presence of the accused trio so as to put them on trial. The petitioners say their kin were killed by government gunmen, Rashid Billa, Wali Mohammad Mir and Mohammad Ayoub Dar, who they said were then working for the army.
Meanwhile, the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a human rights group here said that ‘it appears that the Government of India, the army, and senior officials of the police were supporting the accused’.
“Local information suggests that Abdul Rashid Parray and Wali Mohammad Mir are openly moving in their residential area. The police has deliberately, it appears, chosen not to use the powers under the law to effectuate arrest, including by getting a warrant against them from the lower court and attaching their property to pressure them to appear before the law [Section 25 of the Police Act read with Sections 87-89 CrPC],” JKCCS said in a statement here.
In the case of Dar, it said, the police have chosen to address correspondence to the Commanding Officer rather than use powers under the law to directly go to the camp and arrest him.