‘Case so old, it may become obsolete’
SRINAGAR: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Tuesday directed the state government to expedite sanction for the prosecution of security personnel involved in the Khanyar Massacre of 1991.
The Commission said, “We are least interested in the initial correspondence between the Director General of Police and the JK Home Department but we are interested in the dispensation of Justice to the victims.
“The case is so old that with the lapse of time it may become obsolete with no persuasion from any quarter. This is in spite of the fact that DGP on the basis of the report from IGP, Kashmir, vide no.PHQ/SHRC/63/2013/4119 dated 16 January, 2018, has almost admitted the guilt of the accused, and simply an action taken report is awaited because of some formal sanction by the Home Department,” Commission member Abdul Hamid Wani said in Tuesday’s order.
It took five years for the Jammu and Kashmir Home Department to submit its reply to the SHRC in a petition related to the 1991 Khanyar Massacre. It says the Home Department has denied sanction to the case on one or another pretext, the latest of which is that the police do not possess an English translation of the First Information Report (FIR) and witness statements. The police are now working on the translations so the file can be “immediately” sent back to the department.
A petition was filed before the SHRC in 2013 by human rights activist Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, seeking justice for the victims of the massacre in which 22 civilians were killed by government forces in Srinagar’s Khanyar area. Although the J&K Home Department has now stated in its reply that the case investigation is in want of an English translation of the FIR and the witness statements, a January 16 police report states that the department has kept on returning the file sent to it for sanction. The last time it returned the file was in December last year.
“The file was submitted to Home Department for accord of government sanction, wherefrom the case file was returned with some observations/queries. The same were replied [to] and the file was again submitted to government Home Department for accord of sanction, but the same has been received back from said department vide letter number Home/Pros/23/2017/5225 dated 14/12/2017 for English translation of copy of FIR, statement of witness, final report and incriminating material relied upon and other documents in the CD file. The file will be submitted back to government Home Department immediately after translation of the requisite documents by IGP Kashmir Zone, Srinagar,” the police report states.
The petition states that on May 8, 1991, when a peaceful procession was bearing the bodies for burial of persons killed in government firing in Dachigam and Srinagar’s Saida Kadal locality, government forces deployed at Khanyar opened fire on the mourners and killed 22 unarmed civilians, while injuring more than 52 others.
“In this incident, one infant aged two years and his father were also killed. Also four persons of the same family got killed,” Untoo stated in his petition.
“After some time when the firing stopped, people tried to move to their respective places, [when] a group of para-military forces coming from Nowhatta started firing again on the passers-by, due to which some more persons got killed and a number of others injured,” the petition stated before the SHRC, adding, “This again is clear evidence that innocent people are being killed in Kashmir. In this incident, five ladies namely Fatima of Khanyar, Shamima of Rainawari, Samina of Rainawari, Dedri of Rajouri Kadal, Khati of Sheshagari Mohalla, Khanyar, and an infant of two years were killed.”
“Some official was nominated by the government to look into the massacre. However, people rejected the appointment. Later a public inquiry commission headed by a retired judge of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Justice M B Farooq, was appointed,” the petition stated.