On 5 October 1996, seven members of three families in Saderkoot-Bala, Bandipora, were killed by government gunmen [Ikhwan] under the control of the13 Rashtriya Rifles, camped in Manasbal.
FIR no. 125/1996 has to date led to no arrests and no chargesheet. This is despite the fact that eye-witnesses have clearly identified the government gunmen responsible for the massacre including three alive today including prime accused Abdul Rashid Parray, alias Rashid Billa. The other two alive accused are: Wali Mohammad Mir and Mohammad Ayoub Dar. The family members of the victims were forced to approach the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 2015 to revive the investigations in this case [Petition no: OWP 732/2015].
Despite the intervention of the High Court, the Jammu and Kashmir Police continue to shield the accused in this case. This is clearly brought out by objections filed by Mohammad Shabir, Senior Superintendent of Police, Bandipora, in September, 2015 in the High Court petition. SSP Shabir accepts that the accused government gunmen have been identified, three of whom are alive, but states that they are yet to be arrested as they are willfully and deliberately evading their arrest. Further, SSP Shabir states that it is denied that the government gunmen were working under 13 Rashtriya Rifles. All three accused are in Bandipora district, regularly sighted by the public and main accused Rashid Billa has police protection. In fact, Rashid Billa is working at and draws salary from the Block Development Office, Hajin. Further, the police have no basis to deny the control of the accused by 13 Rashtriya Rifles. In the absence of investigations, the police seek to protect the Indian army and shield them from any proceedings.
This case once again illustrates that a change of government or the intervention of the judiciary does not affect the status quo vis-à-vis human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir: impunity for the perpetrators.
We, the survivors of the Saderkoot massacre, today remember the victims, and pledge to continue the struggle for justice. The police must immediately arrest the three accused, carry out fair and proper investigations on the role of 13 Rashtriya Rifles, and submit a chargesheet before court.
Ghulam Qadir Dar, Tariq Ahmed Dar, Manzoor Ahmed Dar, Ghulam Ahmed Dar
On behalf of the: Families of the Saderkoot Massacre
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