Struggle for Justice in Saderkoot Massacre case will continue: Rights Body

A rights body has said that justice for Saderkoot Massacre case will continue despite the main accused being killed by suspected gunmen on Sunday.

Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) said that ‘extra-judicial execution’ of Abdul Rashid Parray alias Rashid Billa who used to work for the State as Ikhwan (pro-government militia), raises serious questions on the role of the State – and its various institutions – in fostering a climate of impunity in Jammu and Kashmir.

Specifically, the State has consistently invested in violence and refused to allow rule of law and judicial processes to function, JKCCS said in a statement issued here.

The spokesman of the organization said that Rashid Billa was the main accused in the 5 October 1996 massacre where he led a group of Ikhwan and killed seven civilians belonging to four families in Saderkoot-Bala, Bandipora District (North Kashmir).

Despite registering a criminal case (FIR no.125/1996) at the Sumbal Police Station, and evidence of the involvement of specifically named Ikhwan, the police did not affect any arrests.

“In fact, the police in their submissions before the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir stated that the accused could not be arrested as they were then working for Mohammad Yousuf Parray alias Kuka Parray, a member of the legislative assembly and ‘supreme commander’ of the Ikhwan.

“As a direct consequence of the inaction of the police, six of the nine accused were killed in separate incidents of violence between 1996 and 2004. In 2015, the families of the victim approached the High Court to intervene and direct the police to carry out proper investigations and arrest the remaining three accused (Wali Mohammad Mir, Mohammad Ayub Dar and Rashid Billa). This petition remains pending even as the police has consistently maintained that the three accused persons are ‘absconding’ and that the police have seized the accused properties including their residential houses.

The families of the victims have repeatedly informed the High Court that in fact the accused are roaming freely, issuing threats to the families fighting the case and the accused continue to enjoy access to their properties, the statement adds.

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