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JEHANGIR ALI | 4 MAY, 2016

JK High Court Dismisses Petition for Judicial Probe in Handwara Case


SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking judicial probe into the alleged molestation of a minor girl and subsequent flare-up which left five civilians dead in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

The petition, filed by the Kashmir Bar Association, had prayed for an IGP-level officer of impeccable integrity, monitored by a High Court judge, to probe the flare-up which paralyzed Kashmir Valley for nearly two weeks in the middle of April.

“The court has dismissed the petition. We have applied for a certified copy of the judgment. Once we get it, the Bar executive will sit and evaluate the order,” Advocate Mian Qayoom, who pleaded the case on behalf of the Bar, told The Citizen. “Since it is a division bench, now we either we have to move the Supreme Court or wait,” he added.

The division bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey and Justice Tashi Rabstan had reserved its judgment on April 26 after Mian Qayoom argued that the court should not resist a “fair probe” into the matter despite investigations being carried out by J&K police.

“How can one trust police when father of the girl has put signature on one application while in another he has put thumb impression. You should not resist it if you are sincere for a fair probe,” he said.

Five civilians, including a budding cricketer on way home with groceries and an elderly woman tending to vegetable garden, were shot dead in a week of protests in Handwara and Kupwara areas against the alleged molestation of a minor girl by an Army soldier of 21 Rashtriya Rifles.

In order to quell public anger, the J&K government tore down the Army’s installation, comprising of four bunkers, in Handwara town and also ordered a magisterial probe into the case.

The J&K Police has registered separate cases into the flare-up, most of them against locals for rioting and arson, in Handwara town on April 12. Five separate cases of murder have been registered in an open FIR.

In its report before the court last month, the police opposed the plea of a judicial inquiry, saying that a Special Investigations Team headed by a DIG was probing the case. It also gave clean chit to the security forces accused of killing five civilians and claimed that the girl is not a minor.

Questioning the role of the police, Mian Qayoom had said that as per the school date of birth certificate - which he produced before the court last month - the girl is a minor and cannot be placed in a police lock up and even police could not entertain her application.

Citing a judgment of Rajasthan High Court, Advocate Qayoom argued that a judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge can be ordered in a PIL filed on the basis of newspaper clippings.

“What about the reports on food adulteration in which the reports make the basis for the PIL in J&K High Court. In the petition the material available is newspaper reports,” Qayoom had argued.

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