SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) on Wednesday demanded immediate arrest of the army personnel and investigation into the incident by a senior police officer from another district.
In a statement issued here, the human rights group said the chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, and army spokesperson only made statements that do not address the steps that must be immediately taken.
The army spokesperson, while regretting the killing, has assured action and stated that it would need to be ascertained if the “standard operating procedures” have been followed, it said, adding that the chief minister has sought assurance from the Indian defence minister for action in the case.
“First, the army personnel of 21 RR involved in the killings, including those present on the scene of crime and in command of 21 RR, and involved police personnel, must be immediately arrested for purposes of investigations.
“Arms, ammunition and any other physical evidence connected to the killings must be immediately seized. Arrest of armed forces personnel in Jammu and Kashmir is not barred by any law,” it said.
The JKCCS said that no Standard Operating Procedures need to be consulted, because, as it appeared from an RTI, no such SOP’s even exist for situations like that of protests.
This preliminary step in investigation does not require the intervention of the army, defence minister or any other authority, the rights group said.
“But the move by the chief minister to approach the Indian defence minister does explain where political power vis-à-vis even law and order in Kashmir lies.”
It said the suspension of ASI Mohammad Rafiq was not enough “as the amount of violence witnessed by people on Tuesday is not possible to have been carried out by one police official”.
“Other officials responsible of army and police should be arrested immediately. The police must immediately suspend the superintendent of police, Handwara, Ghulam Jeelani Wani, subject to investigations in this case as his role in the killings would need to be ascertained.”
It appears the video of the victim of sexual violence, a minor, has been circulated to distract from the investigation of 21 RR personnel responsible for the killings, it said.
“The actual circulation of the video, and disclosure of the identity of the victim, would invite prosecution under criminal law and/or other disciplinary action for the superintendent of police and other police officials involved.
“The army circulation of the video must also be examined as on one
hand they have regretted the killings, but at the same time are deeply invested in prejudicing investigations against their personnel. The circulation of this video has serious ramifications for the security of the victim,” JKCCS said.
Due to the role of the police, particularly the Handwara police, “the investigation of this case must be immediately, at the very least, handed over to a senior police officer of another district, with no criminal allegations against him”, JKCCS said.