Hajin: A notorious government-sponsored militiaman and counterinsurgent Ikhwani Abdul Rashid Billa of Hajin was killed by unidentified gunmen at his residence on Sunday evening.
A police officer said at around 10pm gunmen barged into Billa’s house at Par Mohalla and shot him. They left him lying in a pool of blood. He died on the spot. As soon as the news spread, people in the area rushed to the spot.
Billa was main accused in the massacre of seven civilians in Saderkoot-Bala Bandipora On 5 October 1996. Belonging to three families, the civilians had been massacred by Ikhwanis who were then under the control of the Manasbal-based 13 Rashtriya Rifles camp.
The killings occurred after Ikhwanis were angered over the villagers for voting for National Conference, not the Ikhwan-backed Awami League candidate in the 1996 Assembly elections.
The League was the political front floated by dreaded militia commander Mohammad Yusuf Parray alias Kuka Parray. The party contested elections in 1996 and Parray emerged winner from Hajin.
An FIR no 125/1996 was registered by police following the killings but the accused remained at large till date. The eyewitnesses in the case had identified Billa as the man who led the killers. Billa, along with others, victim families said, barged into their houses at Bunpora village and opened indiscriminate fire, killing seven villagers including two women and children.
The police have been continuously telling the high court that the searches for absconding accused persons were continuing. The investigators had also claimed that Billa and one of the other accused, Wali Mohammad Mir has been declared as proclaimed offenders. The court had passed a number of directions on a petition by victim families who insisted that their kin were killed by government gunmen including Rashid Billa, Wali Mohammad Mir and Mohammad Ayoub Dar, who they said were then working for the army.
The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a human rights group , had also claimed 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],” the JKCCS had said.