By Aqib Ahmad
SRINAGAR: A court here on Saturday partly heard arguments in a protest petition against the ‘untraced’ closure report filed by Crime Branch into the killing of Tufail Matoo who 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 tuition center where he was studying for the medical entrance exam, died on the spot. His death triggered an uprising in 2010.
Advocate Mian Qayoom, president Kashmir High Court Bar Association, argued the case at length before Judge Small Causes (Srinagar) and referred to a number of Supreme Court and high court judgments in support of the contention against the closure report.
The family has raised as many as 12 contentions in support of demand for rejection of the report filed by the Crime Branch and for fresh investigation by the “men who has expertise and skill and are honest and above board.” The case has been put up for further hearing on April 17.
In May 2015, the crime branch submitted a closure report as “untraced”, saying that there were three varied accounts of the eyewitnesses, official witnesses of police and expert opinion in the case.
“If they are taken in unison, it throws up a situation where there can be no conclusive culmination of investigation which would appear commensurate with the merits of the case,” the Crime Branch had said.
The investigation was handed over to Crime branch by High Court on 14 February 2014 after it quashed an order by Special Mobile Magistrate (PT&E) Srinagar on March 1 2013 by virtue of which the court had accepted closure report by the SIT of police.
“When an offence has been committed, it is the duty of the State to investigate the case fairly and expeditiously and ensure that the culprits are brought to justice. It has been stated more than once that until such time justice is meted out to the aggrieved persons, there will be no peace in the society,” the high court had observed in the judgment on February 14, 2014. It had also observed that the SIT’s investigation was incomplete on many vital aspects and “it appears as if an attempt has been made to save certain police officials.”
Last month, the State Human Rights Commission dismissed a plea by Mohammad Ashraf Matoo, Tufail’s father, seeking directions to the government for providing him a copy of the report, submitted last year by one-man Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice (retd) ML Koul on the 2010 uprising in which about 120 street protesters, mostly youngsters, were shot dead.
The CoI submitted the report to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on December 30, few days before the start of the 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, a resident of Saida Kadal Srinagar, as detailed out in the report.”
“What are the details in the report that made it to 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.