Sopore ‘Custodial Death’: HC Seeks Govt’s Response On Family’s Plea

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir high court has issued notice to the government on a plea by family from Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, seeking copy of a magisterial enquiry report and filing of FIR into the alleged “custodial death” of their kin in September last year .

A bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey has sought the response by May 12 after hearing advocate Shafaqat Nazir for the family which alleges that their kin, Irfan Ahmad Dar of Sidiq Colony Sopore, was killed in alleged police custody on the night of September 16 last year as against the official version that the 23-year-old’s body was found near a quarry at Tujjar-Sharief after he “escaped taking advantage of the darkness.”

In the petition filed by Irfan’s mother—Haja Begum, and his siblings— Tahira Akther (sister) and Javid Akbar Dar (brother)—the family has sought copy of the magisterial enquiry report conducted on the directions by District Magistrate Baramulla, as per petition.

The family has also sought directions to the police to register FIR with regard to “killing of Irfan in Police custody” as well as “adequately compensation the kin of the deceased.”

The court has issued notice to government through Commissioner cum Secretary General Administration Department, Principal Secretary Home Department, Director General Of Police , Senior Superintendent of Police Sopore, S.H.O Police Station Sopore, SHO Police Station Bomai, District Magistrate Baramulla and Additional District Magistrate Baramulla (enquiry officer).

“Irfan Ahmad Dar was an ordinary shopkeeper running his Kiryana (grocery) Shop at Sidiq Colony Sopore. On 15.09.2020 at about 12:30 afternoon he was picked up from his shop by the personnel of

Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K Police stationed at Sopore without any rhyme or reason and without following the procedure established by law,” the family says.

On the very next day, the family says, Irfan’s other brother, Abdul Waheed Dar approached the Police Station Sopore with a written application “with regard to incident of his brother having been lifted from his shop in broad daylight and kept in illegal custody by the personnel of SOG Sopore.”

A request was made to the concerned SHO to register an FIR in this regard, the family says.

“Instead of registering the FIR upon presentation of a written complaint the family members of the Irfan Ahmad Dar were called to the Police Station and informed that Irfan Ahmad Dar escaped from custody in village Tujar Sharief and his body has been found in a deep gauge/stone query,” the family says, adding, “The fact of the matter is that (Irfan) was subjected to worst kind of physical torture while in illegal custody which resulted in his death and his body was thrown in a stone query.”

The family alleged that a story was “cooked up” that Irfan died after he escaped from Police Custody while he was being taken for making recovery of some illegal ammunition in village Tujar Sharief. The family says that Police Station Bomai registered an FIR (No. 71/2020) under Section 224 IPC (Resistance or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension) to this extent.

The family says that Irfan’s death took place in highly “suspicious circumstances” and “he bore visible torture marks all over his body including head, chest and limbs. There were visible and apparent burn injuries over the body of the deceased.”

“All this strengthens the belief of the (family) in the fact that the deceased was tortured to death in Police custody and then a story was cooked up with regard to alleged recoveries and alleged efforts of the deceased to run away from custody.”

After “public outcry and protests by the family members”, the petitioners say that the District Magistrate on 17 September 2020 passed an order under section 176 CrPC, ordering Additional District Magistrate to conduct a magisterial enquiry so as to ascertain causes and circumstances leading to Irfan’s death. “It was provided that the Enquiry Officer shall submit his report within a period of 20 days.”

Also, the family says, a complaint was filed on 02 October 2020 before the National Human Rights Commission and in view of the seriousness of the allegations, the DGP was directed to file a detailed report in the matter including inquest, Post-mortem and Viscera reports and the video CD of the post-mortem examination with final cause of death and the magisterial enquiry report conducted in the matter along with explanation as to why the case of “custodial death” was not reported to the Commission within 24 hours.

“The DGP has neither submitted the report nor explained his position in the matter till date,” the family says.

The family also claimed that Police Department did not cooperate with the Enquiry Officer so as to “sabotage” the enquiry into the killing. Meanwhile, the family said, the Enquiry Officer finally concluded the enquiry in the matter and submitted report to District Magistrate Baramulla.

“The petitioners (family members) are of reasonable belief, given the statements of witnesses before the Enquiry Officer, that the enquiry report has indicted the Police personnel for killing (Irfan) in custody and has ruled out the theory of the police that the deceased while fleeing from custody fell into a stone query resulting in his death.” (GNS)

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