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Friday, March 26, 2010

Dr Sofi remanded to judicial custody, lodged in Central Jail

Another cellphone user’s statement recorded by Chief Judicial Magistrate

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Mar 26: Booked and arrested in the offence of committing rape on a female patient at his clinic, suspended Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Pulwama district, Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi, has been shifted to Srinagar and lodged in Central Jail after Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) remanded him to judicial custody today.

Informed sources in south Kashmir told Early Times that Police today produced Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi before CJM Pulwama, Mr Aijaz Ahmed Khan, who remanded the suspended CMO to judicial custody till April 5th. Thereafter, Dr Sofi was shifted to Srinagar where he was lodged in a barrack of the Central Jail. Sources said that Police arranged Sofi’s transportation to the capital city secretly so as to protect him from public wrath. According to reports, hundreds of people, who seem to be outraged and angry over the CMO’s immoral act on a woman patient, had gathered at the district headquarters. They seemed to be waiting for an opportunity to harm the accused.

Sensing the trouble, Police shifted the CMO to Srinagar and residents came to know about it hours later. Even as the markets were open for business, there was widespread condemnation to the rape of a hapless woman that, according to Police investigation, has been committed in the holy month of Ramazan in September last year and recorded by two persons on a mobile phone. Imam of the local Jamia Masjid expressed concern over the moral turpitude of government officials and involvement of certain people with the immoral activity. In his sermon at the Friday afternoon mass prayers, he advised residents to hold an introspection of the society and arrest the rot before it assumed menacing proportions.

After the prayers conclude, over a hundred people formed a procession which proceeded towards a major market while shouting pro-Islam slogans. Participants, expressing their anger over the CMO’s immoral act, were heard shouting slogans like “berahravi band karo”. As soon as some of the participants began shouting anti-government slogans, the procession was terminated by the organizers.

CJM Pulwama today recorded the statement of another mobile phone user, identified as Hilal Ahmed, under section 164 Cr PC. Statement of his associate, Altaf Ahmed, and owner of the Nokia used in secretly shooting the CMO’s rape on the woman, namely Bashir Ahmed, had been recorded at the court of CJM Pulwama yesterday. As already reported, the mobile phone, that has been seized by Police, after seizing a widely circulated video clip of the rape, has been sent for forensic examination to Chandigarh-based Forensic Science Laboratory of Central Crime Detection Training School. Investigators are expecting a report from the FSL within a week’s time.

Sources said that Police were still questioning the victim of the rape and her statement was likely to be recorded in the court under section 164 Cr PC in a couple of days.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dr Sofi arrested, cellphone seized, statements recorded by CJM Pulwama

CMO found to have raped married patient at clinic in holy month of Ramazan


SRINAGAR, Mar 25: In a major breakthrough in the rape of a woman at an illegally operating clinic in Pulwama, Police have identified the victim as a patient and mother of two young children, arrested the already suspended Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi, seized the mobile phone used in recording the crime, sent it for forensic analysis to FSL in Chandigarh and got statements of the amateur videographers recorded in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Pulwama. Technology led the Police to discover that Dr Sofi had committed rape on his patient not only at a property belonging to Pulwama Auqaf but also in broad daylight in the holy month of Ramazan.

Informed sources revealed to Early Times that a team of Pulwama District Police has finally succeeded in identifying two persons, who had recorded a doctor’s rape being committed on a young woman, as well as the victim of the crime who turned out to be mother of two young children and a patient of the CMO Pulwama, Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi. Sources said that Dr Sofi, who had been placed under suspension on charges of moral turpitude on March 20th, was formally arrested and put behind the bars at Police Station Pulwama today as the victim of his crime as well as the mobile phone users revealed that the act had taken place at a clinic in Rajpora Chowk of Pulwama in September last year. Immediately after his suspension on March 20th, Police had registered FIR against the CMO under section 376 (D) and had been questioning him since March 21st but he was formally arrested only today.

SSP Pulwama, Syed Kifayat Haider, confirmed to Early Times that during the course of preliminary investigation, Police has identified and arrested two persons who had used their mobile phone in recording the rape of a woman at a doctor’s clinic in Pulwama. He confirmed that the mobile phone used in the crime has been seized and sent for forensic examination, alongwith a video clip that had been already seized by Police, to Chandigarh-based Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) of Central Crime Detection Training School (CDTS). He said that the statement of the mobile phone users was recorded today by CJM Pulwama under section 164 Cr PC and that of the woman identified would be recorded in a couple of days. He declined to disclose details while pleading that such revelations could hamper the process of investigation.

However, sources believed to be informed about the developments, said that the detained mobile phone users, who have been identified as Hilal and Bashir of two villages in Pulwama outskirts, made bizarre disclosures during their questioning first to Police and later in their statement recorded at a court. They revealed that Dr Sofi had committed the rape on a woman who was one of his female patients. They claimed to have shot the video with a Nokia after they removed tape from a hole in the window without the knowledge of the doctor and the victim. When asked as to what was their motive, they said that they had recorded the horrible sexually explicit scenes “just for fun”. They stated that the act had taken place at Dr Sofi’s clinic on first floor of a building belonging to Pulwama Auqaf in the holy month of Ramazan last year. Police have seized the Nokia used in shooting of the crime.

Sources said that the film was found to have been shot in the afternoon on 11th of Ramazan last year (September 2009) at 01.29 p.m.

One of the mobile phone users described himself as a laboratory technician working at a private clinic and another a salesman working at a chemist’s shop in Pulwama.

Sources said that the victim of the rape has been identified as a resident of another village in Pulwama outskirts. According to sources, she stated that Dr Sofi had sexually exploited her with the promise of getting her recruited in government service. In her early 30s, she happens to be mother of two young children.

Reports from Pulwama, meanwhile, said disclosure of the suspended CMO’s rape on a young woman at his clinic had sent shockwaves throughout the south Kashmir districts of Pulwama and Shopian where people were planning demonstrations on Friday. They are now reportedly demanding cancellation of Dr Sofi’s registration and termination of his services.

As already reported, Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi has been in news since last year when some doctors had publicly claimed that two young women, namely Asiya Jan and Neelofar Jan, had been raped and killed in May 2009 in Shopian. It was on their reports that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Jammu &n Kashmir Police had arrested then SP of Shopian, Javed Iqbal Matoo, Dy SP of Shopian, Rohit Basgotra, SHO Shopian and a Sub Inspector on the charges of their involvement in the rape and murder of the two young woman and destroying evidences. However, during an investigation, CBI exonerated all the four Police officials and instead framed charges of getting the innocent implicated with false and fabricated evidences in a crime that could get them capital punishment against six doctors, including gynecologist Dr Nighat Shaheen and then Deputy CMO, Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi, besides five Shopian-based lawyers.

Contrary to her earlier statements made before SIT and Jan Commission of Inquiry, gynecologist Dr Nighat Shaheen later revealed to CBI that she had not conducted any per vaginal on the two dead bodies. She had previously sweared by the holy scripture and claimed publicly that she had found the two women raped and murdered. Later, she revealed to CBI that she had actually collected the vaginal swab from the surgical gloves used on a number of married female patients at District Hospital of Shopian and sent the same to CSFL as the vaginal swab of Asiya Jan and Neelofar Jan so as to establish it as an incident of gang rape. She claimed to have sent another swab from a source not worth mentioning.

According to the chargesheet CBI has produced against six doctors and five lawyers in a court of law on December 14, 2009, Dr Nighat had fudged the vaginal swab slides on the influence and persuasion of then Deputy CMO of Pulwama Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi. Interestingly, rather than being subjected to any disciplinary action, Omar Abdullah government’s Minister of Health Sham Lal Sharma had promoted Dr Sofi to the post of CMO Pulwama in September 2009, around the days of his committing rape on a woman patient at his clinic. It was around the same time that Omar government’s Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Sagar, appointed one of the tainted lawyers as the government’s Public Prosecutor in District and Sessions Court of Shopian.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why Er Rashid alone seeks action against suspended CMO

Continued silence on Pulwama rape has exposed NC’s, PDP’s double standards

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Mar 23: One has essentially got to be a resident Kashmiri to understand why all and sundry of politics in the Valley were up in arms over the alleged rape-cum-murder of two young woman in Shopian and why the poor Independent MLA from Langet is lonely in condemning a senior doctor’s rape on a hapless young woman at his clinic in Pulwama. Four Policemen, who were widely perceived to have either committed rape and murder on Asiya Jan and Neelofar Jan of Shopian or mutilated the evidences to shield the “real culprits”, were officials of the state government. Chief Medical Officer of Pulwama, who has been captured on video while committing rape on a young woman at his illegally operating clinic in the adjoining Pulwama district, is also an employee of the state government. So, why an uproar over the rape done in Shopian and total silence on the other exposed in Pulwama?

There is one difference between the two. The ‘victims’ were found dead in Shopian and the victim in Pulwama will have to die a many times everyday as long as she lives. There is yet another difference: That of Shopian was based more on perception than on material scientific evidence and that of Pulwama stands recorded on a video which has been watched by most of the Kashmiri politicians and mediapersons but not disputed by any one of them. While the politicians---from Hurriyat to National Conference---have been tightlipped on the horrible incident in Pulwama, media has underplayed it to the extent of a dry filler.

Isn’t then the third difference between the two episodes most meaningful: SP Javed Matoo and Dy SP Rohit Basgotra have killed militants while working in Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K Police and the South Kashmir doctors---gynecologist Dr Nighat Shaheen and CMO Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi in particular---have had the honour of confirming rape and murder of the Shopian females and thus getting the Police officers in the dock. It is easy to imagine what the situation would have been today in Kashmir if the rapist would have been from Police or any other counter-insurgent group. It would have been simply ‘Ragda 2010’ and Omar Abdullah’s government would have fallen in the last three days.

Thus a hundred rapes, recorded on camera, shall have to be ignored if done by someone who has done the great service of raping the dignity of India’s soldiers in Kashmir! The constraint is understandable not only for the Valley’s separatist camp that has been at war with India for 20 years but also for the mainstream Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has been desperately trying to steal Hurriyat’s domain for New Delhi since 1999. It is also understandable for the National Conference-led coalition government of Mr Omar Abdullah who has taken over not only the charge of the new Chief Minister but also every bit of the PDP agenda to the extent that the present dispensation appears to be simply an extension of the Mufti-led regime of 2002-05.

Because of this inheritance, Omar has outsmarted PDP in Shopian. Mufti had spent only Rs 9 Lakh of the poor taxpayers’ money on Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s release from Ranchi Jail, his helicopter flight and the treatment at a hospital in Mumbai. Omar has gone a step further by spending Rs 13 Lakh on hiring the services of the country’s leading lawyers only to ensure that none of the Police officials arrested in Shopian gets bail from any court of law. Thus both have got to be tightlipped on the rape in Pulwama that involves a doctor already rewarded by the government for his “honesty and integrity”. Those who must be waiting for cancellation of Dr Sofi’s registration by the competent authority at Directorate of Health Services Kashmir may be living in a fool’s paradise. Departmental inquiry is bound to end up as an eyewash as the current session of Legislature in Jammu has not sent any note of alarm to Srinagar.

The unmoved motion against the CMO has already failed in 1:88 for MLA Langet Engineer Rashid has been the one-odd peoples’ representative disturbed by the rape in Pulwama. Congress may not be essentially permissive of the guilt committed by India-bashers but it has no cause of action as the incident has taken place in Kashmir, not in Jammu or Ladakh. BJP’s what-to-us is equally comprehensible as the victim has the disqualification of being a Muslim and the additional disqualification of being a Kashmiri.

This perhaps explains why those indicted by Jan Commission and our own separatist-friendly SIT are rounded up in seconds and those held guilty by CBI are continuously working as government advocates and government doctors.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Suspended CMO’s clinic sealed by Pulwama Auqaf, Police
Place of doctor’s rape on woman identified as religious property

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Mar 22: Auqaf Committee of Pulwama township in South Kashmir today sealed the building which had been allegedly used by a doctor to commit rape on a woman. However, Police swiftly swung into action and put its own seal on the room that used to be the suspended Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Ghulam Sofi’s clinic until recently.

Informed sources in south Kashmir told Early Times that after two days of investigation, Pulwama Police succeeded in identifying the place where the suspended CMO Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi had allegedly committed rape on a woman that had been recorded by unidentified persons on a mobile phone and later circulated in the Valley. Sources said that Police conducted inspection of at least three particular spots, including CMO’s office and District Hospital of Pulwama, but ultimately Dr Sofi’s clinic, situated on the first floor of a building owned by the local Auqaf, at Rajpora Chowk in the township matched with the video clip that has been seized by Police.

Even before Police would take further action, members of the local Auqaf Committee, followed by a large number of residents, sealed the building and put their locks on the clinic.

SSP Pulwama, Syed Kifayat Haider, said that Police immediately swung into action and made it clear to the people that taking the clinic into custody and making the investigation were the job of Police in which there was no room for such civilian action. He said that members of the local Auqaf and the residents cooperated with Police which later sealed the clinic. He said that Police had registered the criminal case (rape) under section 376 (D) and the investigation was underway. He said that efforts were underway to identify and interrogate the woman exploited as well as the people who made video of the criminal act. He said that Police were questioning the doctor for few hours of the day but clarified that he had not been formally arrested as sufficient material evidence to take such action was not available as of now.

Residents said that there was a lot of anger against the doctor as well as some politicians, including a Member of Parliament, who were allegedly trying to shield the criminals. “Be it PDP, National Conference or Hurriyat, all of them are selective in such matters. They have been all exposed by their criminal silence in this matter. Only an Independent MLA has shown some concern in the Assembly”, complained one of the members of Pulwama Auqaf. He said it was strange that entire Kashmir valley had erupted on a rape in Shopian that was based on speculations but everybody was tightlipped on the one in which there was substantial material proof.

Dr Sofi, who is now facing charges of committing rape on a woman in addition to a departmental inquiry, was among the six doctors who had publicly confirmed “rape and murder” of a 17-year-old unmarried woman, namely Asiya Jan, and her 25-year-old married sister-in-law, Neelofar Jan, who had been found dead in mysterious circumstances in Rambiara nullah in Shopian on May 29th, 2009. However, an investigation, carried out by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) alongwith teams of doctors and forensic experts from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, and Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) later established that both the young women had died due to drowning in the nullah and no rape or murder had taken place.

CBI’s observation was primarily based on the fact that the unmarried woman’s hymen was found intact when the dead bodies were exhumed nearly six months after the burial. However, mainstream as well as separatist political parties had dismissed the CBI investigation as a “cover up” to shield the Police officials.

During the course of investigation, CBI claimed to have found that six doctors, including then Deputy CMO of Pulwama Dr Sofi, had fudged and fabricated evidences so as to implicate innocent Police officials in a criminal matter in which the guilty are liable to capital punishment. In a startling revelation, gynecologist Dr Nighat Shaheen had narrated to CBI how she had actually collected vaginal swab slides from a number of married woman examined at District Hospital of Pulwama and sent the same to CFSL as the vaginal swab of the two women found dead. She had claimed to the interrogators that Dr Sofi had influenced her to collect and send the fudged swab to the CFSL. Public statements of Dr Nighat Shaheen and Dr Sofi had led to violent anti-India and anti-Government demonstrations in which at least 8 persons got killed and over a thousand injured.

CBI has filed the chargesheet against six doctors and five Shopian-based lawyers in a court of law which has granted bail to all the accused who include now suspended CMO of Pulwama, Dr Sofi, and the state government’s Public Prosecutor in District and Sessions Court of Shopian, Sheikh Mubarak.