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Monday, January 23, 2012

SSPs arrested, imprisoned but no conviction in 13 years---- [3]

·        Mumbai drug smuggling

·        Shopian ‘rape-cum-murer’

·        Ganderbal killings

·        Srinagar Sex Scam

·        Anara Gupta interview

·        Pathribal killings

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jan 22: Even as nearly two dozen gazetted officers of Jammu & Kashmir, both regular recruits (IPS) and state police service (KPS), have been removed from service or posting on complaints, placed under suspension, attached, arrested, imprisoned and subjected to prosecution in the last 13 years, not one of them has been convicted as charges have not been established against them in any court of law.

IPS officer of batch 1995, Saji Mohan, was arrested in Maharashtra on January 24, 2009, when Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) Mumbai claimed to have seized 12 kg of heroin from this senior official of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). Saji was on central deputation and posted as Chandigarh Zone Director of NCB when he landed in trouble. Before developing relationship with trans-border drug smugglers in Jammu, Saji had served as Assistant Director of SK Police Training Academy at Udhampur, SP of Ramban and Additional SP of Doda.

NCB later booked him in several others criminal matters. Facing prosecution, he has been in jail for the last three years. All 1995 IPS officers, except Saji, have been promoted as DIG in J&K.

Months later in 2009, Omar Abdullah government placed under suspension then SP of Ramban, Javed Iqbal Matoo, who had previously served as SP of Shopian when dead bodies of two young women, Neelofar Jan and Asiya Jan, had been recovered from Rambiara Nullah on May 30th. KPS officer Matoo was suspended, alongwith former Dy SP Rohit Basgotra, SHO Shopian Inspector Shafeeq Ahmad and Sub Inspector Gazi Abdul Kareem on the charges of destroying evidences and not registering a murder case. They eventually faced charges of committing rape and killing both the women.

After some court directions during the course of investigation and a report submitted by Justice (retd) Muzaffar Jan Commission of Inquiry, all the four accused officials were arrested on July 15th. Even as Jan’s inquiry held them guilty of lapses and called for a thorough investigation, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by DGP Kuldeep Khoda and headed by DIG (now IGP) Rauful Hassan, left no stone unturned to establish the charges against Matoo and others. However, the investigation was assigned to CBI on August 12, 2009, when it surfaced that some doctors had sent wrong samples for DNA testing to Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL).

In the four-month-long investigation, CBI established that all the charges against SP and three other Police officials were “completely baseless and motivated”. It established that the entire Shopian episode was the result of a criminal campaign by a group of doctors and Shopian-based lawyers who wanted to sully the image of J&K Police for criminal motives and intentions. CBI submitted its report on December 13th,  2009, and started criminal proceedings against six doctors, five lawyers and two civilians. It established that neither rape nor murder of the duo had happened. Matoo and others were later reinstated on September 15th, 2010.

The first ever significant action against (until then) unbridled Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K Police was initiated by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in January 2007. Even Azad had not acted in tracing and arresting Dy SP Abdul Rasheed Billa, charged with murder of three innocent civilians of Srinagar, and getting the alleged killer of advocate Jaleel Andrabi, repatriated from United States of America. The accused happened to be a Major with Budgam-based Sector 12 of Rashtriya Rifles.

Rather than riding on a refrain of rhetoric, Azad straightaway got then SP of Ganderbal, Hans Raj Parihar, suspended and arrested when it surfaced that men of SOG Ganderbal, under Parihar, had eliminated five innocent civilians of Anantnag and Banihal areas in fake encounters and labeled them all “foreign terrorists” on different occasions in the years 2005 and 2006. Exhumation of dead bodies in Ganderbal, Bandipore and Kangan took place on February 3rd, 2007, and SP Parihar was arrested alongwith a number of his colleagues on the same day.

A Special Investigating Team (SIT) worked hard and the first interim challan was produced in the court of CJM Srinagar on February 28th, 2007. It held SP Parihar, Dy SP Ram Bahadur, ASI Farooq Gadroo, one driver, three constables besides then Commanding Officer of Rashtriya Rifles 13th Bn, Col Vikram Singh, Major Navreen Yadav, Havildar K Mohandas and Naik Manoj Singh guilty of killing a civilian, Abdul Rehman Padroo, on December 8th, 2006. Identical charges were later established in other killings. Army officials have been claiming immunity under AFSPA and Parihar and other J&K Police officials have been facing prosecution without getting bail in the last five years.

Previously a similar carnage had surfaced in March 2000 when troops of Rashtriya Rifles 7th Bn got five civilians kidnapped from different places and eliminated them all in a fake encounter at Pathribal while claiming that they were “foreign terrorists, responsible for massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura”. On March 20th, unidentified gunmen had carried ou mass killing of 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura village on occasion of then US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India. Five days later, Army claimed to have eliminated the “killers” of the Sikhs in an “encounter”.

On April 1st, SOG camp at Brakpora, Anantnag outskirts, opened fire on demonstrators who demanded whereabouts of the five missing civilians with the allegation that same could have been eliminated as “foreign terrorists” by the troops. Eight civilians got killed and 15 others injured in the shootout. Dr Farooq Abdullah’s government later ordered removal of then DIG South Kashmir, Raja Aijaz Ali, besides suspension of SSP Farooq Khan on April 4th, 2000. Retired judge of Supreme Court of India, S R Pandian, conducted a comprehensive investigation into the Brakpora shootout. It indicted the SOG personnel and recommended suspension and other departmental action against head of the camp, a Dy SP, and seven others. Government immediately ordered their suspension.

Founder of the counter-insurgency wing of J&K Police and then SSP of Anantnag, Farooq Khan, was absolved of all the charges against him. Pandian’s report recorded that not a single allegation against him was established. He was reinstated and posted as SSP of Jammu by Dr Abdullah’s government in November 2001.

Khan later got a veritable shot in the arm when CBI too declared him innocent in the Pathribal carnage in which the premier national agency established charges of murder and fake encounter against five Army personnel in 2006. The main accused Major of RR 7th Bn had by then risen to the rank of Brigadier and is now a Major General. CBI filed the challan at its designated court in Srinagar but Army, as an institution, has challenged the prosecution in Supreme Court with the plea that it enjoyed immunity under AFSPA. CBI and Army have locked horns in a pitched battle on the Pathribal killings.

In the year 2004, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government placed under suspension then SP Operations Jammu, Deepak Kumar Salathia, SDPO Bakhshi Nagar, Tanvir Jeelani, and two other officials for permitting television crews interview Miss Jammu of 2001, Anara Gupta, who had been in custody and was lodged inside Women’s Police Station in Jammu while facing charges in the matter of a porno CD. They remained under suspension for a long time. Jeelani, whose father had been gunned down by militants at his office in Hazratbal, is the only officer of his batch of Dy SPs whose promotion is still in a sealed cover.


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