STATE TIMES EXCLUSIVE
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.
END[Published in today's STATE TIMES]