Sopore teenager was killed in fake encounter: SHRC

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Srinagar, April 03: Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Tuesday revealed that a teenager of Sopore was killed in 1997 in a fake encounter in Handwara allegedly by Army and labeled as a militant. The Commission asked the Director General of Police (DGP) to order reopening and reinvestigation of the case by an upright officer not below the rank of a Dy SP and recommended action against then SHO Handwara for negligent approach in probing the case. It also recommended relief of one lakh rupees and benefit of SR0-43 to the deceased’s family.
In his complaint to the Commission, the family of an eighth class student Showkat Ahmad Najar son of Ghulam Hassan Najar of Sir Syed Adab Sopore has stated that he was kidnapped by some unidentified gunmen on May 23, 1997 and later his body was handed over by police after a month. The Commission had sought a factual report from DGP. In his report the DGP had stated that on June 23, 1997 an encounter took place between militants and personnel of 21 RR at Nagranar Handwara in which one person was killed who was identified as Showkat Ahmad Najar. The police report said that FIR no 3 of 1997 stands registered in Police Station Handwara which shows that even some arms and ammunition was also recovered from the possession of Showkat.
The family had rebutted the police statement and filed a rejoinder on July 20 last year. The Commission directed the SSP SHRC to get the matter investigated by a Dy. SP.
“In view of the facts and circumstances it has surfaced that no encounter has taken place but the boy might have been lifted by Army from Sopore area and killed in Handwara in a fake encounter. It is worthwhile to mention here that after the episode the police has not taken any cognizance in the case, no FIR has been lodged,” SSP SHRC states in his report.
“Police have completed only one formality…taken the body from Army and handed it over to his father,” the report adds.
Hearing the case today, the SHRC member Javaid Kawoos passed strictures against police for casual approach in the case.
“An 18 year old young boy lost his life in a fake encounter and till date nobody has either been booked or punished for the offence, rather other way round, the innocent boy, as per the investigation conducted by Dy. SP SHRC, is being wrongly projected as a militant,” the member observed in his order.
“Had the encounter been genuine some security personnel or civilians must have also sustained injuries during the same but the reports state that no one was injured in the incident. All these facts substantiate the findings arrived at by the Dy SP SHRC,” the member observed.
Detecting loopholes in the police investigation, the member states, “I am shocked to note that the incident of death of a person has also been entered in a six months post dated FIR which primarily has been registered for fire and arson cases. This speaks about the inefficiency of the police officer concerned which needs to be evaluated because it has directly affected human rights of the citizen(s) of the State,” the member observed.
Elaborating the member states that the FIR was registered in the fire and arson case in which house of one Krishan Lal was burnt in a militancy-related incident. All of a sudden the said FIR regarding the fire and arson to the property has been changed and supplemented with the incident of death of Showkat Ahmad Najar. “This all is mockery of policing and blot on fair and impartial investigation,” the member observed.
The member recommended ex-gratia relief of one lakh rupees to the family of the deceased and benefit of SR0-43. “Regarding inaction of police concerned, it is further recommended that DGP J&K will reopen the investigation of FIR no 3 of 1997 and entrust the further investigation of the same under section 173 of CrPC to an upright officer not below the rank of a Dy SP,” the member stated in the order.
“It is further recommended that the careless, insensitive, inefficient and negligent approach adopted by the then SHO Handwara has clearly contributed to the commission of violation of human rights and negligence in prevention of the same. So proceedings under section 19 (1) of Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Human Rights Act 1997 be initiated against him,” the order states.
The member stated that the Commission would have been more powerful and in comfortable position had the State Government under Chapter V of the J&K Protection of Human Rights Act 1997 created human rights court or by notification under section 20 of the Act specified any court of Session to be a human rights court.
“This could have paved way for prosecution of the delinquent officer(s),” the member stated.

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