Rashid Paul

J&K HC seeks official response to widow’s plea about alleged custodial killing of her son

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Srinagar: The High Court Thursday sought response from the top functionaries of the Jammu & Kashmir civil and police administration into the alleged custodial killing of the young son of a north Kashmir widow by Special Operations Group (SOG) of Police in mid-September 2020.

Justice Magray, while hearing a writ by the widow, directed a notice to official respondents and sought their response into the matter by May 12 this year.

The official respondents include Commissioner Secretary to General Administration Department, Principal Secretary Home Department, Director General of Police (DGP), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Sopore,  SHO Police Station Sopore, SHO Police Station Bomai, District Magistrate Baramulla, and Additional District Magistrate, Baramulla.

The petitioner, Haja Begum, had pleaded that despite the passage of six months, no First Information Report (FIR) had been registered into the alleged custodial killing of her son Irfan Ahmad Dar, on 15th September, 2020.

“The killer police personnel of my shopkeeper son are yet to be touched by law and that the district magistrate is sitting over his civil magisterial inquiry report,” she told the court through her lawyer Shafqat Nazir.

Her petition reads “my non-combatant son Irfan Ahmad Dar was running a grocery shop at Sidiq Colony Sopore, north Kashmir. On 15.09.2020 at about 12:30 afternoon, he was picked up from his shop by the SOG personnel of J&K Police stationed at Sopore without any reason and without following the procedure established by law.

“Next day my another son Abdul Waheed Dar approached the Police Station Sopore with a written application with regard to the detention of his brother Irfan, requesting the concerned Station House Officer (SHO) to register an FIR,” the petition said.

It added “instead of registering the FIR, my entire family was called to the Police Station and told by police that Irfan had escaped from custody in village Tujar Sharief and his body has been found in a deep gauge/stone query”.

“My son was subjected to worst kind of physical torture while in illegal police custody which resulted in his death and his body was thrown in a stone query,” the widow said in her petition.

She said “a story was cooked up by police and they told me that an FIR under section 224 IPC has been recorded”.

Section 224 of IPC deals with offenses relating to intentional resistance and illegal obstruction to the lawful apprehension of self for any offence with which one is charged or of which one has been convicted, or escapes or attempts to escape from any custody in which one is lawfully detained for any such offence.

“He bore visible torture marks all over his body including head, chest and limbs. There were visible and apparent burn injuries over his body,” the petition reads.

“This evidence according to the widow strengthens the belief that Irfan was tortured to death in police custody and then a story was cooked up with regard to alleged recoveries and alleged efforts of escape from custody,” it added.

The petition further said that since slain young man Irfan was an ordinary shopkeeper, his death took place in highly suspicious circumstances, and the residents of the area also staged strong protests regarding his killing in police custody.

It said that after public outcry, an order for magisterial inquiry was passed by the District Magistrate Baramulla.  Its report was to be submitted within 20 days. “But the officers are sitting over it for unknown reasons.”

The widow petitioner said that she also submitted a complaint about the alleged custodial killing of her son before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

“The commission directed the DGP to file a detailed report in the matter including inquest, post-mortem and Viscera reports and the video CD of the post-mortem examination with final cause of death and the magisterial enquiry report conducted in the matter along with explanation as to why the case of custodial death was not reported to the Commission within 24 hours,” her petition read.

“But the DGP has neither submitted the report nor explained his position in the matter till date,” it added.

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