Denied copy of Koul Commission’s report, he says ‘our wounds have been rubbed to bleed again’
Srinagar: Hope for justice prompted Mohammad Ashraf Matoo to provide full support to the one-man Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice (retd) ML Koul that recently submitted its report on the 2010 uprising in which about 120 street protesters, mostly youngsters, were shot dead.
More than two-and-a half years later, Ashraf regrets his cooperation with the Commission.
“We were actually shown a swimming pool of assurances and after taking a dip into it our wounds have been rubbed and they have started to bleed again,” Ashraf told Kashmir Reader.
“By refusing the copy of Commission’s report, we think those victim families who chose not to cooperate and repose faith in the Commission were right,” he says.
Ashraf’s only son—Tufail Ashraf Matoo—was killed on 11 June 2010 after a tear gas canister fired by police from close range made a hole in his skull. The 17-year-old boy, who was returning home from a tutoring center where he was studying for the medical entrance exam, died on the spot. His death triggered the uprising.
The CoI submitted the report to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on December 30, few days ahead of the ongoing budget session of the state’s legislature.
Soon after reading about the CoI in local newspapers on December 1, Ashraf rushed to the Commission’s office only to return disappointed after three visits.
The office provided him a small paper chit stating: “The Commission has recommended a CBI inquiry into the petition of Mohammad Ashraf Matoo, father of Tufail Matoo, a resident of Saida Kadal Srinagar, as detailed out in the report.”
“What are the details in the report that made it recommend a CBI probe? Do we have a right to know or not? Do I have the right to know who killed my son and how?” he said.
All victim families who turned up before the Commission fully cooperated with it, he said.
“All that we want to see is what the CoI has done. A copy (of the report) was provided to those under whose nose the killings took place but we have been denied our right,” he said.
“We want to see whether any recommendation has been made to penalize the members of the SIT who wasted our precious time by acting like incompetent people. What happened to my letter which I gave to the Commission? Why those at the helm of affairs were not summoned in the same manner as we were summoned?” Ashraf said.
The family is not averse to a CBI probe as it has kept open the option for “any direction as the court may deem it” in a petition filed before the high court against a closure report filed by the Special Investigation Team of executive police as well as by the subsequent SIT comprising members of the Crime Branch. Both SITs have closed the case as “untraced”.
“We want justice. From day one, we gave cent percent cooperation to the Commission. Those at the helm of affairs should punish guilty responsible for the killing of our beloved. This is our only demand,” Ashraf said.
“As common man we knock at the door of judiciary for justice. By not punishing people guilty of killing innocents, what are you turning a society into? A lawless society?” he said.
Referring to the UN General Assembly declaration of basic principles of justice for victims of crime, to which India is a signatory, he said that “access to justice and fair treatment” has been recognised as pivotal by all countries.
“Victims should be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity. They are entitled to access to the mechanisms of justice and to prompt redress,” Ashraf read from the text issued by the world body.
He said the responsiveness of judicial and administrative processes to the needs of victims have to be facilitated as has been held by the United National in its 96th plenary meeting on 29 November1985.
“Informing victims about the progress of the proceedings and of the disposition of their cases has been held imperative and same is being denied to us,” he added.
The Commission was appointed on 20 June 2014, little over a month after then ruling alliance suffered drubbing in Lok Sabha elections, which saw three PDP and as many BJP members making it to the Indian Parliament.
It was tasked with inquiring into the circumstances leading to deaths by firing, or otherwise, during “maintenance of law and order in different districts of valley, during 2010”
Besides, it had been asked to find out the adequacy, or otherwise, of the force used; fix responsibility, wherever excessive force has been used; suggest measures to avert the recurrence of such incidents in future; and recommend the action to be taken against person(s) or authorities.