BJP hails apex court order on CBI probe into custodial death
The Bharatiya Janata Party has welcomed the Supreme Court order passed on September 17 regarding a CBI probe into the case of custodial death of Rajneesh Kumar in Ram Munshi Bagh police station, Srinagar, on October 6, 2009.
Addressing mediapersons along with the family members of the victim, BJP's Kashmir cell national co-convener Chander Mohan Sharma said the order of the apex court should serve as an eye-opener to the coalition government of J&K.
He thanked and showered praise on Pinky Anand, a senior advocate in the Supreme Court, and her team of advocates for taking up the matter before the apex court.
Sharma also thanked advocate PC Sharma for representing the family of Rajneesh Sharma before the State Human Rights Commission, Jammu.
He added that after hearing Pinky Anand, senior advocate for the mother and brother of the victim, the SC bench consisting of justice CK Prasad and justice JS Kehar on September 18 directed the CBI to investigate the death of Rajneesh, who was alleged to have committed suicide in judicial custody in a police station in Srinagar and to submit the report within six months.
Rajneesh Kumar Sharma (35) was found dead in Ram Munshi Bagh police station of Srinagar on October 6, 2009.
It was argued by Pinky Anand that the post-mortem report itself showed 17 different injuries sustained by the victim. Several injuries were found all over the body from the head to legs and on arms. It was further argued that statement of witnesses also showed that Rajneesh Sharma died due to police torture and electric shocks.
The case highlights alleged extreme violence and high-handedness of the police officials in cases of inter-religion marriages.
Rajneesh Kumar was arrested by the Kashmir police during the intervening night of September 29 and 30, 2009, from Rehari in the Jammu region.
Rajneesh and Ameena Yousaf, daughter of Mohammed Yousaf Meraji, were in love and decided to get married. The marriage was solemnised on August 21, 2009, at Arya Samaj temple, Janipur, Jammu.
On the same day, Ameena converted to Hinduism and took the name Aanchal. Aanchal's father lodged an FIR at Ram Munshi Bagh police station, accusing Rajneesh and his family of abducting his daughter.
Murtaza Ahmed was SHO and Javed Riyaz Bedar was Srinagar SP at that time. ASI Abdul was deputed to go to Jammu. Along with the local police, he allegedly started harassing Rajneesh's family.
Police officers, including Shashi Thakur, SHO, and SDPO Shiv Kumar Chauhan of Bakshi Nagar police station, allegedly started raiding the family and illegally arresting its members. On October 2, Rajeesh's brother-in-law Kaushal Kumar Sharma, also his business partner, was arrested by the police without registering a case and was taken to Srinagar. The family hired lawyers from Jammu and went to Srinagar for securing a bail.
The case, however, could not be taken up due to the strong opposition from local lawyers.
Two autopsies were conducted on the body of Rajneesh -- one each in Srinagar and Jammu. The findings suggested severe torture -- burning by cigarette butts and hanging Rajneesh upside down.
The petitioners had prayed for a CBI investigation as they felt that there was no likelihood of justice from the police authorities. The petitioners had further prayed for compensation and punitive damages of `50 lakh from the state for wrongful death of Rajneesh and guidelines to be framed against action of the police in such cases and cases of inter-caste/religion marriages.
The SC gave the petitioners liberty to move the court for further relief after the report of the CBI.
Meanwhile, the state government had ordered an inquiry by additional district magistrate MA Ganai, who recorded statements of various witnesses, including Anchal Sharma, wife of the victim, wherein she had held her two brothers, father, SHOs of Munshi Bagh and Bakshi Nagar responsible for killing her husband.
However, the report of inquiry was allegedly more or less a version of a police report and was rejected by the family of the victim.
The family members of the victim, including mother Raj Kumari, sisters Shalu Sharma and Kiran Sharma and brother-in-law Koushal Sharma, who were present in the press conference.