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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

Sopore custodial killing: SHRC reminds CM of justice

Ashiq Hussain, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, February 08, 2013
First Published: 14:36 IST(8/2/2013) | Last Updated: 12:37 IST(9/2/2013)

Jammu and Kashmir’s State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) reminded the chief minister Omar Abdullah of his promise of providing justice into the custodial killing of Nazim Rashid Shalla in July 2011.

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One-and-a-half-year after the custodial killing of 28-year old Nazim of North Kashmir’s Sopore town, SHRC has reprimanded the police for its “intentional faulty investigations"  to let senior police officers – like Mohammad  Altaf Khan (then Sopore Superintendent of Police) , Aashiq Hussain Tak (deputy SP of operations) and Iftikhar Talib (deputy SP Cargo )
– off the hook.

“Actually, I feel that some lower rung Special Operations Group of police
personnel have been made scapegoats in the incident because the investigating officer (SHO Sopore) has not perhaps dared to touch the higher officers who, by their intentional omission and commission, have contributed and are directly responsible for death of the deceased,” SHRC member Javaid Kawoos observed in his order issued on Wednesday.

The official right’s body took the suo-moto cognisance of the case after Nazim, a shopkeeper in Sopore, was “tortured to death hours after he was picked up by  the SOG (police’s counter insurgency group) and army’s Rashtriya Rifles  personnel on July 30, 2011. The police claimed to have picked up the victim for questioning regarding a murder in the area.

The government within days ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident while Omar Abdullah publicly accepted the death as “a gross human rights violation and inexcusable”.

Human rights commission has made its observations by exclusively quoting from the investigation report submitted by sub-divisional magistrate of Sopore.

The commission informed that the Police has filed the final report before the court of competent jurisdiction only against three persons- all lower rung SOG policemen (constables).

“After going through the magisterial enquiry report, it is clear higher officers Muhammad Altaf Khan, Aashiq Hussain Tak, Iftikhar Talib, sub-inspector Dilraj Singh... have interrogated and tortured Nazim Rashid Shalla in Police Custody which resulted in his death,” the SHRC observed.

The commission informed that the magisterial enquiry officer has also held Digvijay Singh, major in-charge of 52-Rastriya Rifles in Amargarh Sopore, equally responsible for being part in torturing and killing the youth.

“Even otherwise all these officers who have admitted to have seen the deceased under the SOG custody have by their omission directly contributed to the death of the deceased as they appeal to have failed to protect life of a person who was admittedly in their custody. So if not directly, by their omission they have contributed to the custodial killing of the
subject,” it said.

To bring home its point, the state commission has quoted the words of chief minister himself. “The death of Anjum (Nazim) Rashid in police custody is a gross human rights violation and inexcusable. Things like this cannot be allowed to happen…I expect the police to do nothing less than make an example to those responsible so that nothing like this even happens again.
Swift and exemplary action. No delays, no cover ups, no excuses. That is all I can promise and ensure…it is not enough, of that too I am aware,” Omar had tweeted in 2011.

“The recommendation so made will be completely in tune with the assurance and promise extended by Hon’ble CM,” the SHRC observed in the Wednesday’s order.

The commission report also asked the Director General of Police (DGP) to order a high level departmental enquiry against the police officers to ascertain their culpability in the incident.  The commission has also directed its standing counsel to move the Court seeking leave in the proceedings of the case and request for proper and fair investigations.


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