- By: Arif Shafi Wani
Srinagar, Feb 13: The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has indicted the paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) for killing a youth of Harwan in a fake encounter in 1995 and rejected its claims that the deceased was a militant.
The Commission has also asked the State Government to reopen investigation into the case to bring the accused to justice and “let rule of law prevail.”
In her complaint to the Commission, Haseena Bano of Harwan area here alleged that the BSF personnel picked up her husband Muhammad Ashraf Teli on September 21, 1995 and after labeling him as a militant, killed him in a fake encounter. She had stated that despite passing of over a decade, the accused were not punished and demanded a probe into the matter.
The Commission had sought factual reports from the police to establish the circumstances which led to Teli’s killing. In its report, police states that on the fateful day, the Company Commander of F-Company 12th Battalion of BSF lodged a report in Police Station Soura stating that they had killed a militant. The BSF stated that while conducting patrolling near Ontabhawan, arrested a militant of Harkat-ul-Ansar Muhammad Ashraf Teli, who during questioning disclosed that he had hidden his weapon Ak-56 in a migrant house at Vicharnag colony.
“The militant was escorted to the migrant house and during search operation, some unknown militants fired upon the search party from Ontabhawan side whereupon in self defence the fire was retaliated by the BSF men. But in the meanwhile, Muhammad Ashraf Teli laid his hands on his hidden weapon and opened fire. In the exchange of fire, the militant got killed beside the house was also razed to ground,” the BSF report stated.
The BSF had registered an FIR 136/1995 in Police Station Soura and handed over the charred body to family. However, the family had rejected the BSF version saying Teli was a mason and was not affiliated with any militant group.
To ascertain the facts, the SHRC member Javid Kawoos asked the Commission’s investigation wing to conduct independent inquiry into the case. In his inquiry, the SSP SHRC quoting statements of witnesses and circumstantial evidence maintained that the deceased was an innocent civilian.
“Being in custody of BSF, Teli was not in a position to do anything as per his free will. The enquiry report further states that before the search, the hideout was cordoned from outside and on-the-spot assessment revealed that no firing was possible from 90-feet road as the surrounding wall of house is still intact and there was not a single mark of any bullet on the same or inside the house which clearly negates the story projected in the FIR by BSF,” the member states in his judgment.
It states the SSP SHRC on the basis of statement of witnesses and a report of SSP CID has stated on the fateful day, Teli had gone for trimming his hair. But unfortunately near the Police Station Soura, 12th battalion of BSF checked his Identity-card and then took him into their bunker where he died during interrogation. In order to suppress the actual occurrence, a fake and false drama was staged by the BSF personnel who took the body into the migrant house and burnt it. The personnel then lodged a completely false and frivolous FIR in Police Station Soura.
“The reports and probes reveal that the subject was an innocent person who was not involved in any subversive activity or connected with any banned outfit or organization. Thereby an innocent peace-loving citizen has lost his life in custodial torture regarding which a counter FIR 138/1995 stand registered in Police Station Soura on the Court orders. In this backdrop, it is recommended that investigation of the FIR be reopened and the matter be further investigated under sub-section 8 of section 173 CrPC by an upright officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police so that rule of law prevails and the guilty are shown the doors of the Court,” the member recommended.
The Commission has also recommended the State Government to pay ex-gratia relief of Rs 1 lakh in favour of the next of kin of the deceased who are now legally entitled to receive it. Besides the eligible next of kin, if any be extended benefit under SRO-43 of 1994 or in alternative benefit under SRO-199 of 2008 read with Govt order no 893 GAD of 2008 respectively,” it states.