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Fake encounters in J&K
2 police officers arrested
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 3
The alleged killing of four innocent persons in fake encounters in Kashmir has not only put the J&K police in a tight spot but has also caused setback to the ongoing confidence building measures that were initiated by the Centre and the state government.

Meanwhile, SSP (Ganderbal) Hans Raj Parihar and DSP (Operations) Ram Bahadur were today arrested in connection with the killings. An ASI and a constable driver of the Special Operation Group (SOG) have already been arrested.

Bodies of two persons allegedly shot by certain police officers in fake encounters have been exhumed by scientists of the Chandigarh-based Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) for DNA test.

Police investigations indicating that these persons, who were earlier believed to be missing, had been killed in fake encounters by some policemen in a bid to grab financial rewards has put the valley on the boil.

Observers say that the current unrest among the people in the valley has badly affected the goodwill that had gradually started generating due to the strenuous efforts of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to curb incidents of human rights violations. His predecessor Mufti Sayeed had also taken steps to restrain the security forces.

However, this is perhaps for the first time that the police has come into focus for such type of killings. It is worth mentioning that in the past the Army, BSF and the CRPF had come under criticism for human rights violations in the valley and the people had been demanding replacement of these security forces with the state police.

Involvement of the police in these killings has come to light following recovery of a mobile phone belonging to one of the victims, Abdul Rehman Padder, from a civilian who had purchased it from an ASI.

All four victims were picked up by unknown persons from around the famous Lal Chowk area of Srinagar. Their reports were lodged in various police stations. The report of Abdul Rehman Padder, a resident of Anantnag, in the police station Batmaloo, Srinagar, filed on December 14, 2006, stated that he was untraceable since December 8 from Srinagar.

During the course of examination of the family members of the missing person and other witnesses, it was revealed that Padder was in possession of a mobile phone. Further investigation led to the recovery of the phone, which was being used by Abdul Rashid Wagay, a resuident of Khatpora, Hajan Sonawari, and that it was given to him by ASI Farooq Ahmad Gudoo of the SOG.

Further investigations by the police revealed that a selection grade constable driver Farooq Ahmad Padder, currently posted in the District Police Lines, was also involved in these killings. Both of them were arrested for their alleged involvement in the case.

The case has been entrusted to Mr Farooq Ahmad, DIG Central Kashmir Range, for investigation.

Another person Mohammad Yaqoob Mir was disappeared on January 21 from the Budshah Bridge where he was working as a labourer. His father Abdul Aziz had lodged a report with the police.

During enquiry, it was established that Mir was called by some unidentified person on January 21 while he was working at the bridge and thereafter was not seen. Further, during the course of enquiry, his dead body was handed over to the police by the 52 battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles.

The police is also probing the disappearance of Nazir Ahmed Deka and Ghulam Nabi Wani, both residents of Kokernag (Anantnag), who were earning their livelihood as vendors outside the Biscoe school in the posh Residency Road locality of Srinagar.

The Chief Minister has announced that all these cases will be referred to the judicial commission.

The SOG has always remained in criticism for its alleged high handedness. Former Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed had disbanded the SOG, but its involvement indicates that the SOG is still active.

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