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Saturday, April 2, 2016


Jammu Police close investigation of FIR against ‘Shiv Sena, VHP arsonists’

Judge passes strictures against SIT, refers matter of attack on minority to SHRC for enquiry and prosecution

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, April 1: Close on the heels of disclosure in media that Police in Kishtwar district had shown some known activists of BJP-linked outfits, who were wanted in the matters of murder, as “untraced” and “absconding”, Police in Jammu district have hushed up a matter of attack on the Muslim community and claimed in a court that none of the accused activists of Shiv Sena and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, allegedly involved in the arson, could be traced or identified. However, the  judge has passed strictures against the Police and referred the matter to Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) for enquiry, and if necessary, prosecution of the officers involved in ‘abetment’ or ‘negligence’.

On March 30, First Additional Sessions Judge Jammu, M.A. Chowdhary, accepted the closure report in case FIR No: 37 of 2013, filed by Police Station Pacca Danga, as the Special Investigation Team (SIT) claimed that none of the arsonists had been identified or traced during the course of investigation. FIR No: 37 under sections 436, 336, 147, 148, 427 and 323 of Ranbir Penal Code had been filed on August 10, 2013, when a group of people, allegedly associated with Shiv Sena and VHP, had attacked and harassed the members of the minority community in New Plot area of Jammu following the communal riots in Kishtwar.

A number of the properties belonging to the minority community had been damaged and set ablaze which resulted in registration of the FIR for the criminal offenses that involve imprisonment for life and rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years. Police constituted the SIT, comprising Inspectors Vijay Singh Chowdhary, Naresh Sharma and Daljit Singh and Sub Inspectors Jasbir Singh and Mohammad Fareed, for the investigation.

Even as the identity of the arsonists was a matter of the common public knowledge, the investigators waited for over a year for the victims to come forward and identify the men involved in the arson and attack. As none of the victims mustered courage to attract further trouble, Police conveniently closed the matter. On December 22, 2014, it approached the court with the claim that the accused could not be found and the matter had been closed as not traced. On March 30, 2016, the judge accepted the Police closure report but took exception to its failure in investigating the case.

“Inspector Vijay Singh Chowdhary of P/S Pacca Danga on 10.08.2013 from New Plot, Jammu, sent a despatch to his Police Station asserting therein that a mob of 30/40 activists of Shiv Sena and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) at about 11.00 pm caused damage by setting ablaze shops of minority community at New Plot and that nobody could be arrested as they escaped and that some Policemen had also been injured due to stone pelting. A case was registered at P/S Pacca Danga, Jammu, vide FIR No: 37/2013 for the commission of offences punishable under sections 336/147/148/427/136 RPC”, the judge recorded.

Quoting the SIT finding, the judge recorded that 8 shopkeepers, namely Mohammad Ashraf, Nazir Ahmad, Abdul Shakoor, Mohammad Farooq, Mohammad Yaqoob, Mohammad Hayat Bhat, Ghulam Hussain and Shakeel Ahmad suffered damage worth Rs 31,77,209 in the arson and attacks.

While accepting the closure report, the judge however recorded: “Before parting with the order, it is observed that the officers of the law enforcement agency have failed to discharge their duties and the human rights of the victims have been seriously violated. Police officers, having chain of command, have either abetted the violation of the human right or committed negligence in the prevention of such violence being public servants responsible to maintain law and order”.

 “Section 13 of the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Human Rights Act 1997 provides that State Human Rights Commission shall enquire suo moto on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf into complaint of (I) violation of human rights or abetment thereof; or (II) negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant”, the judge observed in his order and added: “Section 19 of the Act provides that after inquiry as contemplated in Section 13, the Commission has the authority to initiate proceedings for prosecution of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights by a public servant”.

Pulling up the State for its failure to set up the human rights courts, the judge observed: “Government of Jammu and Kashmir has not constituted any Human Rights Courts as required u/s 21 of the Act and also as directed by Hon’ble Supreme Court. Therefore, this court is left with no option except to refer the matter to the State Human Rights Commission, with a request to inquire into the matter and in case during inquiry it is disclosed that officers of the law enforcement agencies had either abetted the commission of violation of human rights of the victims or neglected in the prevention thereof, to initiate the proceedings for prosecution or such other action as the commission may deem fit against the concerned public servants”.

The judge directed that a copy of the order be sent to the Secretary SHRC at Srinagar for consideration of the Commission.

Interestingly, the SHRC itself is currently totally defunct as the PDP-BJP Government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, followed by Governor’s regime, did not appoint its Chairman and members after the retirement of the incumbent functionaries in 2015-16.

[Published in today's STATE TIMES]

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mehbooba holds unscheduled meeting with Governor

J&K Governor, Lok Sabha Speaker played key role in stitching PDP-BJP coalition, sources revealed to STATE TIMES

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, March 26: Within a couple of hours of her formal meeting with Governor N.N. Vohra, Chief Minister-designate and President of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti had an unscheduled meeting on Saturday evening with the Governor at Raj Bhawan in the winter capital of Jammu.

Mehbooba’s second meeting with the Governor, of which nobody in PDP and BJP had an inkling till late on Saturday night, surprised leaders of both the political parties. "We came to know of it through some journalists as no such meeting, to the best of our knowledge, was scheduled with the Governor", a senior BJP leader told STATE TIMES, even as he insisted to go anonymous.

PDP leaders too declined to say anything on record, though they maintained that nobody in the party knew about this political development.

However, at least one PDP leader insisted that it was "very much a scheduled meeting".

“It was a scheduled meeting which Mehbooba Mufti had requested for during the first meeting,” he said.

Raj Bhawan sources maintained that no such meeting had been previously sought by Ms Mufti or any other political leader. "Leaders of both, PDP and BJP, had sought just a joint meeting with Governor. That happened and ended. PDP's Tariq Hameed Karra and Muzaffar Baig besides BJP’s Nirmal Singh accompanied Ms Mufti and gave her unanimous support as Chief Minister. It initiated, progressed and ended smoothly. No other meeting of any political leader was scheduled with Governor today", said a government official posted in Raj Bhawan.

Neither a press release was issued nor anybody from media invited for a briefing.

Sources in New Delhi revealed to STATE TIMES that Governor Vohra and Speaker of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan had actually stitched the new PDP-BJP coalition after they arranged a series of Ms Mufti's one-on-one meetings with senior BJP leaders including the union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari in the Speaker's chamber in the months of February and March. They also arranged several meetings separately between the PDP leader and former Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

These sources said there was a possibility that Ms Mufti went to Governor to express her personal gratitude to him or to sort out an issue related to BJP's purported demand of two more Cabinet berths and some key portfolios.

Governor is likely to pass vote-on-account for three months on March 28. An instalment of Dearness Allowance of 6% with effect from July 1, 2015, is likely to be announced for the State government employees in the Governor’s Vote on Account.

On April 2, Governor’s administration will remain busy with Jammu University's Annual Convocation which would be attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari. There is a strong possibility that Ms Mufti and her Council of Ministers could be sworn in any day between April 3 and 6 following which a special session of less than seven days of the Legislature would be summoned on April 8th or 9th.

Under rules, Legislature must meet within 6 months of the last day of the last session. Governor had adjourned Assembly sine die on October 10, 2015.


[ Published in today’s STATE TIMES ]