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J-K High Court admits petition seeking further probe into Poonch killings

Acting on the petition filed by the victims’ families, challenging the CBI’s closure report, the court issued notice to the CBI asking it to respond. The case has been reopened for the second time by the court.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
November 19, 2017 3:15:03 am
Jammu Kashmir, Jammu kashmir promotion rules, Tashi Rabstan, Mukesh Kakar, Kashmir, jammu, kashmir police, kashmir police promotion, Jammu news, news, kashmir news, India news, national news, latest news Jammu and Kashmir High Court. (File photo)

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Saturday admitted a petition seeking further investigation into the killing of 19 civilians in Sailan village of Poonch 19 years ago. The families of the victims have sought further probe after the CBI closed the case saying that the families were “untruthful”. Acting on the petition filed by the victims’ families, challenging the CBI’s closure report, the court issued notice to the CBI asking it to respond. The case has been reopened for the second time by the court.

On the intervening night of August 3 and 4 in 1998, 19 civilians — 13 females and 6 males — were killed inside their homes at point blank range in Sailan. Eleven of them were children. The families alleged that four Special Police Officers (SPOs) of J&K Police and personnel of 9 Para battalion of the Army were responsible for the killings. They alleged that the killers were led by Major Guarav Rishi of Army’s 9 Para. The families had been accusing J&K Police of covering up the massacre.

In 2011, the families approached the high court seeking reopening of the case. In 2012, the HC directed the CBI to reinvestigate. On August 27, 2015, the CBI filed a closure report saying the families were not “truthful”. Two years later, the CBI court accepted the investigations.

The families again approached the HC challenging the order of the CBI court. They argued that the CBI court ignored the material evidence and that its decision was “arbitrary and perverse”. “The (CBI court) order has resulted in serious miscarriage of justice,” said a spokesman of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), which is helping the families in the legal fight. “The CBI court accepted the conclusions of 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.”

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The JKCCS spokesman said that the three witnesses — all family members — of the massacre accused four SPOs and Major Rishi of being involved in the murders. “Further, the CBI court was made aware of 12 witnesses who have vital evidence that supports the case,” he said. “But the CBI court order doesn’t even refer to that point.”

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