Wednesday, November 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

5 cops indicted for Pahalgam killings
CRPF firing excessive: Mukherjee report

TNS and agencies

SRINAGAR, Oct 31 — There was excessive firing by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on August 1 during the Pahalgam incident in which 32 persons, including 23 Amarnath pilgrims were killed, According to the findings of a three- member inquiry committee headed by Lieut General S Mukherjee.

Talking to reporters after the Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet accepted the report the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, said a case of murder would be filed against the CRPF officials who were found guilty by the committee.

Dr Abdullah said four Jammu and Kashmir police officers — Tilak Raj Superintendent of Police, Abdul Qayoum and Pritam Singh, Deputy Superintendents of Police; and G.M. Bhat, Sub Inspector — who have been found guilty of failing to discharge their duty by the committee had been suspended. Hari Singh, Camp Commandant of the CRPF is also among those indicted for the incident.

The inquiry committee constituted by the Jammu and Kashmir Government, comprising Lieut General J.R. Mukherjee, GoC of 15 Corps, Mr C. Phunsong, Principal Secretary, Home Department and Mr G.A. Peer, Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, submitted its report to the government here recently. Justice S.R. Pandhian, inquiring into the killing of eight civilians at Brakpora on the outskirts of Anantnag, had also submitted its report to the state government on Friday last, which has indicted seven officials and seven jawans of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF in the incident.

Briefing mediapersons at a press conference here this afternoon, the Chief Minister said Justice S.R. Pandhian, former judge of the Supreme Court, would be requested to inquire into the incidents of the killings of 35 Sikhs at Chhattisingh-pora on March 21 and killing of five civilians at Pathribal on March 26 last. “Since Brakpora incident has links with both the Chattisinghpora and Pathribal killings, Justice Pandhian will be requested to inquire into these incidents also”, Mr Farooq Abdullah said. He added that the investigations into the killings would be completed “to remove the apprehensions of the Sikhs”.

The Chief Minister said the government had accepted the two reports and these were being sent to New Delhi. “FIRs are being lodged and special teams constituted to prove the cases in the court”, the Chief Minister said. These cases are being lodged under Section 302, CrPC, cases of murder.

Justice Pandhian Commission has recommended to reinstate the SSP, Anantnag, Mr Farooq Khan and SHO, Achchabal in Brakpora case. However, the Chief Minister said they would not be reinstated.

Giving details of the reports, the Chief Minister said inquiry into the Pahalgam incident “proved that there was excessive firing by the CRPF”. 

The inquiry committee has also suggested the constitution of a committee for improving the annual Amarnath Yatra, the Chief Minister said. He added that for this purpose, a board would be constituted and a proposal for this had already been passed by the Legislative Assembly, Apart from a team of officers, including Principal Secretary, Home, Secretary of the General Administration Department (GAD), Director General, Tourism, and the Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu, would make preparations at various levels in advance for smooth conduct of the yatra.

In the case of the killing of eight civilian protesters at Brakpora on the outskirts of Anantnag town on April 3 last, Justice Pandhian Commission has indicted three jawans of the SoG of J&K Police, four jawans of the CRPF and seven other officials of the SoG and the CRPF. It has also recommended the grant of ex-gratia amount of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of each of the persons killed and Rs 1 lakh each in case of two seriously injured persons and Rs 25,000 and Rs 10,000 for others injured in the incident.

Eight protesters were killed when over 2,000 strong procession of people from Pathribal and Achhabal areas was marching to meet the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, on April 3 last. They were fired upon by police and CRPF at Brakpora leading to the death of eight of them. They were protesting against the “mysterious killing” of five civilians in the Pathribal area following the Chattisinghpora massacre on March 21. The authorities had claimed that five ‘unidentified foreign militants” involved in the killing of Sikhs were killed in an encounter with the security forces at Pathribal on March 26. Five bodies were later exhumed from the Pathribal area, and identified by the relatives of five disappeared persons. The DNA reports of these bodies are still awaited, the Chief Minister said.

Meanwhile, talking to mediapersons Mr Abdullah said on Tuesday the only solution to the 52-year-old Kashmir imbroglio is to convert the Line of Actual Control into a permanent border.

“Let Pakistan retain what they have and India keep this part,” Dr Abdullah told reporters here.

In reply to a question, he said there can never be any other solution. However, he made it clear that the state needs more autonomy and “we will get it”.

Referring to the RSS demand of trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, he warned that India will break if this notion is carried through and said those who talk about it will prove the people who formed Pakistan right that Muslims and Hindus cannot live together.

When asked about Defence Minister George Fernandes’ recent statement that Kashmir is a political issue and needed to be resolved politically, Dr Abdullah wondered what was this about and said. “Why does not he cross the border and go to Pakistan as the political solution was there (Pakistan)?” Dr Abdullah said.

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