Rashid Paul

HC dismisses Bar petition for probe into two alleged ‘fake encounters’

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Srinagar, Feb 27: The High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition by High Court Bar Association (HCBA) seeking impartial probe into two alleged fake encounter incidents in Kupwara and Srinagar in 2016.

The petitioner prayed for a probe and its monitoring into the incidents that occurred on 21st and 23rd of May, 2016 at Chak Dragmulla, Kupwara, and Sarai Bala, respectively.

The petitioner quoting newspaper reports rejected the official claims that militants were killed in encounters by state government forces and suggested that the incidents were “stage-managed encounters”.

Citing locals at Dragmulla, Kupwara, the petition said “the militants had been killed five to six days before in the actual incident and were brought to the village to show that they were killed in an encounter”.

With regard to incident at Sarai Bala, Srinagar, where two youths were killed by state forces, the HCBA petition quoting Mst. Raja Begum, the landlady where the two youth were residing on rent, also contested the official version about the incident.

“The two slain youth were not militants, but students who could speak in Kashmiri and only carried books and clothes with them,” it said.

It contended that the family members of the house, where the two youth were residing on rent, stated that “they were taking dinner when the cops of the Special Operation Group of J&K Police entered their house on late Monday evening and asked them to come out and show them the way upstairs. When they went upstairs, there was sudden firing.

“Thereafter, both the students were arrested first and later killed; one of them in the room and the other on road,” alleged the petition.

The respondent Union of India told the court that based on a specific input about the presence of five “terrorists” in a house in village Chak Drugmulla, a joint operation was lunched, resulting in elimination of five foreign militants.

The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Kupwara, also stated that the forces launched an operation at the house where the militants had taken refuge. The house was brought to ground and bodies of five unidentified militants were recovered from the spot along with arms and ammunition.

“A magisterial enquiry has opined that the security forces responded swiftly and conducted the operation gallantly in such a congested populated area,” said the SSP.

In its objections with regard to incident at Srinagar, the government said that two unknown Jaesh-e-Mohammad militants were killed in an “accurate encounter” and an investigation is also going on into the incident.

After hearing both sides, the court asked “if a probe and investigation is allowed at this stage, what would be the function of the authority sought to be appointed.”

“Would it supervise the investigation or conduct a parallel investigation, that too, with the aid of a team of police officers,” it said.

It said both these propositions are impracticable and impermissible and that the court has no reason to suspect police.

“Even if, for the sake of argument, a probe is ordered, any report that may ultimately be made by such authority would not be more than a recommendation. And such authority, for formulation of such recommendation, would again be dependent upon the very same police agency,” observed the division bench of the court comprising Justices A M Magrey and Sanjeev Kumar.

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