Dateline 1998: HC Notice To CBI On Closing Sailan Massacre Probe

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Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has issued a notice to Central Bureau of Investigation, calling for its response to a petition, challenging acceptance by a court of a closure report from the India’s premier investigation agency into the infamous 1998 massacre in Sailan village of Poonch district in which 19 members of three families were brutally murdered. 

The High Court was hearing a petition filed by the family members of the victims. Besides throwing a challenge to the closure report acceptance, they also seek further investigations. 

The petition claimed that CBI court ignored “material evidence” and that its decision was arbitrary and findings perverse.

“The order has resulted in a serious miscarriage of justice. The CBI court accepted the conclusions of the CBI and failed to appreciate the detailed submissions made by the family members of the victims that clearly indict the State forces for the crime and emphasise the need for further investigations that would lead to a chargesheet and a successful prosecution,” they said.

They said three eye-witnesses, all family members of the victims, accused four SPOs, and an army Major, for their involvement in the massacre.

Further, they said, the CBI court was made aware of 12 witnesses who have vital evidence that support the case. 

Soon after the case was handed over to it, the CBI had initially expressed its unwillingness to investigate the infamous massacre and had Instead, urged the J&K High Court to transfer the case to National Investigation Agency (NIA).

“It is most humbly submitted that CBI mostly deals with cases of corruption involving offences under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and JK Prevention of Corruption Act. The killing-related cases are not generally investigated by CBI, and government of India has set up (NIA) as nodal agency which has the mandate to investigate cases as mentioned herein (Sailan massacre),” the CBI has said in its compliance report filed in the High Court.

However, the CBI later informed the court that it will carry the investigation into the matter itself.

Before asking the CBI to take over investigation, the High Court had held that while the gruesome offence has been committed, it was the duty of the state and its authority to investigate the case so as to unearth the truth and bring culprits to justice.

“The matter cannot be shelved. The state has to perform its functions in accordance with the statute and law of the land,” the court had said.  

In previous petition before the court, the victims’ family members—Abdul Ahad, Mohammad Shabir and Masood Ahmad Sheikh—said that six males and 13 females were killed in the house of Hussain Muhammad Sheikh with alleged active participation of then SSP JP Jain Singh, Major Goora of 9 Para Rashtriya Rifles C/O 56 APO, Sevak Singh (Additional SP), SPOs Mohammad Younis alias Tiger and Mohammad Rafiq Gujjar alias Pathan, and hawaldars Maqsood Ahmad and Mohammad Akbar.

All the accused were arrayed respondents besides state’s Home Department, DGP, Defence Secretary, and SHO Surankote.

The massacre of the 19 civilians (aged between 4 to 70 years) including a pregnant woman Zareena Begum, was reported widely in the media and SHRC had taken suo-moto cognizance by carrying on the spot investigation.

The SHRC had ruled out the involvement of militants in the massacre and instead implicated the Army and the police, they had said.

 

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