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J-K police seek sanction to prosecute 23 Army men for death of lecturer

According to police, the Army cooperated in the probe and allowed investigators to record statements of the Army personnel. Awantipora SSP Mohammad Zahid said a SIT, led by a DySP, completed the probe two weeks ago.

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | New Delhi | Updated: March 10, 2018 7:25:59 am
Internet and rail services have been suspended in south Kashmir. (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi) Awantipora SSP Mohammad Zahid told The Indian Express that a Special Investigation Team, led by a DySP, completed the probe two weeks ago.  (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

A J&K Police probe into the death of a 30-year-old college lecturer, allegedly beaten in Army custody in August 2016, has held 23 Army personnel responsible, and sanction has been sought for their prosecution since that’s a requirement under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. According to police, the Army cooperated in the probe and allowed investigators to record statements of the Army personnel. Awantipora SSP Mohammad Zahid told The Indian Express that a Special Investigation Team, led by a DySP, completed the probe two weeks ago.

“We haven’t filed a chargesheet yet. We will require sanction for prosecution under AFSPA for that,” he said. “I won’t be able to talk about the outcome of our investigation.”

On the night of August 17, 2016, Shabir Ahmad Mango, a 30-year-old college lecturer, was beaten to death, allegedly by Army personnel in Sharshali village of Khrew in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

It was alleged that Army personnel had beaten village residents with wooden planks, iron rods and rifle butts, that they had barged into Shabir’s house, dragged him out and beaten him before taking him away. Residents said more than 20 youth from the village were taken away.

“Four of us, including Shabir, were taken to the Army camp in Pampore,” Abdul Ahad, who had been admitted to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar with grievous injuries, had then told The Indian Express. “At around three in the night, they (Army personnel) took us to the police station. Shabir was dying and police were refusing to take him. He (Shabir) asked for some water and passed away at the police station,” he said.

Shabir’s body was taken to the Sub District Hospital in Pampore. There was an uproar and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti promised stern action against Army personnel found guilty. She announced in the J&K assembly that a J&K Police SIT would probe the incident.

In fact, after the Army filed a counter-FIR to deny any role in Shabir’s death, the then 15 Corps commander Lt General Satish Dua had called it “regrettable” and promised an investigation.

The J&K Police, sources in the state government said, has sought sanction to prosecute 23 Army personnel in the case. The Centre hasn’t granted sanction in any such case earlier. In January, the government informed Rajya Sabha that between 2001 and 2016, the Ministry of Defence received 50 requests for prosecution sanction from the J&K government — sanction was denied in 47, while three were pending. Charges in these cases related to killing of civilians, custodial deaths, disappearances, rapes and molestation.

The report on the Shabir case, sources said, stated that “on 18.08.2016 at 0440 Hrs, Wali Mohammad Mangoo — the father of the deceased (lecturer Shabir Ahmad Mangoo) — lodged a written report with Police Station Pampore, alleging therein abduction of his son and other three persons from Sharshali, Khrew by Army personnel of 50 RR during the intervening night of 17 and 18 August, 2016 at 2300 hrs and inflicting of serious injuries upon (his) son who (subsequently) died in Army custody”.

The police, the report stated, registered FIR 156/2016 under Sections 364, 302, 307, 447, 427 and 120-B of the Ranbir Penal Code at Pampore police station. The same day, the report stated, “at 1930 Hrs, Major/Officer incharge D-Coy 50 RR (Kumaon) lodged a counter written complaint with Police Station Pampore alleging therein that on 17.08.2016 approximately 2230 hrs an Army patrol came under heavy stone pelting by approximately 25-30 locals in the general area Sharshali Chowk and four persons including son of the complainant were apprehended and balance were dispersed after verbal counseling”.

Quoting the Major’s counter-complaint, the report stated that “among the four apprehended persons, only three were handed over to Police Station Pampore and the fourth individual namely Shabir Ahmad Mangoo asked for water and after drinking glass of water collapsed and was taken to regimental medical officer located at Lethpora camp. However, the individual could not be resuscitated”. On the basis of the Major’s complaint, police registered another FIR (No. 157/ 2016 under Sections 147, 148, 341, 332 and 427 RPC) at Pampore police station.

According to the report, the postmortem was conducted and the viscera/X-ray films “from the deceased were sent to FSL Srinagar/Department of Radio Diagnosis, Government Medical College, Srinagar for analysis and expert opinion”.

“Statements of various persons who were found acquainted with the facts of the matter were recorded… Army personnel belonging to 50 RR (Rashtriya Rifles) were found responsible for the death of son (Shabir Ahmad Mangoo) of complainant (Wali Mohammad Mangoo) and injuries to other persons,” the probe concluded.

“The nominal roll of Army officers/officials along with incharge party was obtained and the said officers/officials were summoned for necessary questioning and the information/replies were recorded,” it stated. The investigation concluded that “the second case (FIR filed on the basis of the written complaint of the Major, 50 RR) could not be established”.

“…facts and evidence which came to fore during investigation against 23 Army personnel… has been sent for obtaining sanction from the competent authority under the provisions of Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act for launching prosecution against the said Army personnel,” the report stated.

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