HC Mulls Fresh Probe In Shopian Tragedy

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Gives Govt Two Weeks To State Its Case

SRINAGAR (ONS) – In a new turn to the Shopian tragedy of 2009, the state High Court on Monday ordered the government to file objections within two weeks to a re-investigation of the entire case.

The High Court issued the order on the very first hearing of a petition by Shakeel Ahangar, brother and husband respectively of the two female victims, seeking a fresh investigation into the twin deaths by an impartial agency, and making reports of the judicial and CBI probes a part of court records, besides bringing out the report of the police special investigation team.

Having been reported missing on the evening of May 29, 2009 while heading home from their orchard, young Aasia and Neelofar were found dead the next morning close to the banks of the Ranbi Ara nullah, with the valley erupting in outrage as family and the Shopian town alleged rape and murder, blaming forces personnel.    

In a petition filed on October 15 this year, Neelofar’s husband sought the High Court’s orders for a new investigation by some international agency, asserting that the three probes conducted so far were at variance with each other.  

The probe by a police special investigation team (SIT) had come under a cloud right from the beginning, and its key officers had been suspended on the recommendations of a subsequent judicial commission for destruction of evidence, only to be cleared and reinstated later on.

The judicial commission, headed by Justice (retd) Muzaffar Jan, did not identify any perpetrators but upheld rape-and-murder allegations, strongly suggesting the involvement of forces personnel whose camps were located in the vicinity of the stream.

Called in to investigate further, the CBI exhumed the victims’ bodies, and ruled out rape and murder, saying that the deaths had occurred due to drowning.

Under the CBI probe, several Shopian lawyers have been arraigned for forcing locals to lead false testimony after two “eyewitnesses” legally retracted their statements given under oath before magistrates.

Moving the High Court through advocate GN Shaheen, Ahangar has prayed for the SIT report to be made public, and the reports of the Jan Commission and the CBI made part of court records.

The CBI is said to have merely given its observations or conclusions, and not framed a formal report.      

Ahangar said that he had not moved the High Court soon after the CBI probe because his lawyer, GN Shaheen, was in custody.

“The government wants to suppress the case, but we will not allow it to do so,” he said.

The Shopian majlis-e-mashawarat, which spearheaded nearly an eight-week shutdown in the town following the tragedy, said that the police had tried to save the guilty, and the CBI had paved the way for the culprits to escape scot free.

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