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HC: Exhume bodies of Shopian rape victims
Gives sweeping powers to SIT for nabbing accused
Kumar Rakesh
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, July 4
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court today ordered the exhuming of bodies in the Shopian incident, subject to the consent of the two deceased women’s family members, and gave sweeping powers to the Special Investigation Team for nabbing the accused behind the women’s alleged rape and murder.

The division bench of Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir also appointed IG, CID, Farooq Ahmad, as the head of the SIT even though he had expressed his inability to be a part of the investigation for domestic problems.

The justices, while passing orders on a petition of the J&K High Court Bar Association, allowed SIT to carry out narco analysis test, if required, of four suspended cops, including the then Shopian SP Javed Iqbal, and two witnesses, who said they had seen on the fateful May 29 night a blue-coloured Tata-407 police vehicle and heard female cries.

The bench said they have confidence in Farooq Ahmad due to his “past experience and profound established ability” and “his guidance would bring out the truth at an early date”. Farooq Ahmad had also headed the SIT which had exposed police and Army officials’ involvement in fake encounters of five innocent civilians, who were passed off as militants, and chargesheeted 11 officials, including an IPS officer, HR Parihar, who is behind bars since February 2007, a Colonel and a Major. The bench also ordered the state government to include the DIG, armed police, Raouf-ul-Hassan, in the SIT.

In the light of inconclusive autopsies of the victims carried out previously, following which two doctors were suspended, the bench in its detailed order requested their family members to allow exhumation of bodies for carrying out a “proper and thorough” postmortem to help the probe. The bench asked the Principal, Government Medical College, Srinagar, to supervise the exhuming of bodies and appoint a team of doctors for postmortems. The CFSL, CBI, New Delhi, has been ordered to expedite the DNA analysis of human sperms found on victims’ bodies.

The SIT earlier told court that they had searched all police vehicles similar to the descriptions made by the witnesses and sent blood samples recovered from some of these vehicles for tests. They, however, did not match with those of victims, Neelofar Jan (22) and her sister-in-law Aasiya Jan (16). The SIT had also found some hair in these vehicles that later turned out to be of humans. The court ordered that they be sent for DNA tests and matched with the victims’ DNA.

The bench also directed the SIT to prepare a list of all people, including the police and CRPF personnel, who were present in the vicinity of the spots where the bodies were recovered on May 30 morning. The list would help in not only identifying the suspects but also witnesses who have not yet spoken, it said, adding that any person figuring in the list would not leave from his place without the SIT’s permission. The locals have alleged the police or CRPF involvement in the crime.

The order observed that SIT has taken some right steps so far and asked authorities, ranging from civil to police, the CRPF and mobile companies, to fully cooperate with the investigation team. CRPF’s IG (ops), South Kashmir, has been made a party to proceedings, next date for which is July 15.

The bench also took into account-recorded claims that some nomads were camping near the place, from where one of the bodies was recovered, on May 29 but could not be traced later. The court asked the SIT to circulate their pictures drawn on the basis of locals who might have seen them.

The bench also appealed to the people of Shopian, which remains shut since the bodies were recovered, to maintain clam and cooperate with SIT in unraveling the truth.

Court ordered…

n Appointment of IG Farooq Ahmad, responsible for unearthing fake encounters, as SIT head
n Narco analysis of suspended cops, witnesses if necessary
n The CFSL and the CBI to expedite DNA report

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