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Ganowpora killing: JK defends filing of FIR against Army

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Srinagar, July 16: In an ongoing petition in Supreme Court of India, the Jammu and Kashmir police has defended the registration of the FIR against one Army unit over the killing of three civilians in forces’ firing at Ganowpora area of Shopian back in January this year.

The J&K police, in an affidavit filed with the apex Court on Friday, said as per Code of Criminal Procedure, registration of FIRs in cases of cognisable offences was compulsory.

“No person-specific or class-specific exception is carved out in this principle to exclude any individual or class of persons against whom FIR should not be registered in a case where information of a cognisable offence is prima facie disclosed. The concerned police officer is duty bound to register the FIR,” reads the affidavit, a copy of which is with The Kashmir Monitor.

 

During a hearing before the apex court in March, Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Union government, had said that under Section 7 of the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, no FIR can be lodged against Army personnel without the prior sanction of the Union government. The three-judge bench ordered a stay in the investigations, while noting that “Major Aditya is an Army officer and cannot be treated like ordinary criminals by the J&K police.”

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act gives the military sweeping powers to search and arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of Public Order”, and to do so with a degree of immunity from prosecution.

Responding to allegations that the police was functioning under political pressure, the affidavit states that no material had been presented that could ascertain the police’s lack of fairness in the probe. “It is false and vehemently denied that the police agencies are influenced by extraneous agencies or political entities or were nonfunctioning or that there was voluntary omission or inaction on part of any civil authority,” it said.

On January 27, residents of Shopian’s Ganowpora village clashed with personnel of the Indian Army after the Army sought the removal of flags associated with the Islamic State from the house of a slain militant.

The Army claimed it had opened fire in self-defence. Residents of the village, however, offered a different version of events. They claimed that stone pelting had broken out around 11 am that day, bringing soldiers from a nearby 44 Rashtriya Rifles camp to the spot, and that the soldiers had retreated soon afterwards. Later, residents claim, soldiers returned in greater numbers and resorted to firing from within Army vehicles, killing two civilians. A third man later died of his injuries in hospital.

An FIR filed by the police in January mentioned a Major Aditya Kumar as being head of the unit that opened fire on civilians. The FIR was initially registered under sections dealing with murder, attempt to murder and acts endangering life. After the Army responded with its version of events, the police added sections dealing with rioting with weapons, unlawful assembly, voluntarily causing grievous hurt, mischief causing damage to property, and punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment.

Kumar’s father, Karamveer Singh, moved the Supreme Court against the FIR, invoking the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act. The police now “vehemently denies the unfounded and baseless apprehensions and allegations pleaded in the writ petition claiming that justice will not be done”. It said that Singh’s petition was devoid of merit and deserved to be dismissed.

The affidavit states that the FIR did not arraign Kumar and that an investigation by the police “does not violate any fundamental right of any person, not even that of an accused, much less of a stranger to the investigation proceedings”.

The affidavit also points to observations made by the Supreme Court on Section 7 of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act in 2012, in the Pathribal fake encounter case. Drawing on that case, the affidavit stated that “even under the AFSPA, the Army Act or under any other law in force, there is no prohibition of registration of FIR against an army personnel or a requirement to seek a sanction prior to registration of a FIR against an army personnel”.

The police also defended its action by arguing: “The registration of FIR is not a determination of guilt against any party. It is merely the starting point of investigation to ascertain the true and correct facts relating to a cognisable offence and to ascertain whether a cognisable offence has actually been committed or not.”

It also argued that not investigating a charges of cognisable offence “would constitute a serious breach of the relevant statutory provisions” as well as violate the victims’ right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Also on Friday, a separate application filed in the Supreme Court by the Jammu and Kashmir government’s counsel, Shoeb Alam, seeks to make four North Eastern states where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is in place “parties to the present proceedings”.

“As on date the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is applicable in the states of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Jammu & Kashmir,” the application said. “Reopening this settled issue and the re-examination of the 2012 Judgment will require the aforesaid states to be heard since the powers of the police in these states in regard to registration of FIR against army personnel involved in cognisable offences will be directly affected. The aforementioned states, thus are necessary parties to the present proceedings.”

It then proceeded to suggest that all states in India may be involved in the discussion, “since the powers of the police of all states in regard to registration of FIR against army personnel involved in cognisable offences may be directly affected”.


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Day 2: Hajin gunfight ends, two LeT militants, minor dead

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Mar 22: Two militants, one of them a top commander of Lashker-e-Taiba, and a 12 minor boy were killed in a gunfight in north Kashmir’s Hajin area of Bandipora district on Friday.
Reports said a joint team of Army’s 13RR, CRPF and SOG launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) at Mir Mohalla of Hajin on Thursday afternoon.
It soon turned into a gunfight which ended Friday morning with the death of two militants.
A 12-year-old boy, Atif Mir, who, the government forces claimed, was made “hostage” by the militants was also killed during the encounter.
Addressing a joint press conference called by army, police, and CRPF, SSP Bandipora, Rahul Malik said they had inputs about presence of militants in the Hajin area for some time and launched several cordon and search operations.
He said this was the third CASO in which a “chance encounter” ensued. He claimed the police rescued the six civilians in the first two hours of gunfight.
“After that we came to know that two more civilians were trapped inside who were taken hostage by the two militants. Among the measures we took was to make announcements through megaphones, we also used local Auqaf committees, and family for releasing of hostages,” the SSP said.
The SSP said that police also involved a team specialized in room to room intervention.
“By the time they reached the third floor, fire came out. We also tried to send the mother, who went inside to make appeals but again militants opened fire at them. In this situation, we were able to rescue one hostage: the old uncle of the trapped boy,” Rahul said.
The SSP claimed they also called the Magistrate at the spot who appealed that the boy should be released.
There are also few videos apparently recorded by government forces in which old parents of the minor are seen pleading before the trapped militants, asking them to release their son.
“Unfortunately, those efforts didn’t materialize. When the firing from the other end intensified, we also retaliated. In this process, two militants with pseudonyms, Ali and Hubaib got killed. In this process, we received information from the rescued civilian. He told us that the minor boy was being held hostage by Ali. The militant didn’t allow the boy to go out, and killed him before our team stormed the building,” he claimed.
Reports said the house belonging to one Abdul Hamid Mir was razed to rubble during the gunfight and all the three bodied were completely charred. Police and army also recovered two Ak-47 rifles.
The government forces, the SSP said, tried to adopt various methods to rescue the boy. The SSP claimed that one of the militants Ali wanted to marry a girl from the family whose members were held hostage.
“The family members of the girl had sent her to some other place. Ali demanded that girl should be brought back and then only he would allow the hostages to go out. This is what had been transpiring in their house. By the time we received the input, the cordon and encounter had already started,” he said.
The police said both the slain were foreign militants and affiliated with LeT.
“Ali has been involved in many civilian killings. He had a trademark of keeping a long knife which we have also recovered. Besides, foreign militants don’t operate from one area. They keep on moving from one district to another. For the last five to six months, their presence has increased in this area. They keep on changing their name, identity and area of operation,” he said.
He claimed that Ali had been operating for the last two years. “We can’t say how many foreign militants are active presently but whosoever is there we are behind them,” he added.
SOPORE RESIDENT AMONG TWO MILITANTS SLAIN IN BARAMULLA: Thousands of people on Friday attended the funeral prayers of Aamir Rasool Kaboo who was among two militants slain in a gunfight with the government forces in Kalantra Kandi Kreeri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla Thursday night.
Witnesses said that thousands of people assembled at Aamir’s home at Arampora Friday morning to take part in his last rites. Amir’s body was handed over to the family shortly before midnight.
The mourners raised pro-freedom slogans as they marched with his body to the martyrs’ graveyard where he was laid to rest.
Amir and his associate, believed to be a non-local, were killed in a gunfight with the forces in Kalantra on Thursday. Three soldiers, including an officer, were wounded in the firefight.
A complete shutdown was also observed across the Sopore town and its adjacent areas.

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Two JeM militants killed in Shopian gunfight it

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Srinagar, Mar 22: Two Jaish militants, including a former SPO who had joined the outfit in 2018, were killed in an encounter in Ratnipora area of South Kashmir’s Shopian district on Friday.
Reports said that a joint team of army’s 34 RR, SOG and CRPF laid a cordon and search operation in Ratnipora village late last night.
Quoting a police officer, news agency GNS said that the CASO was launched following inputs about the presence of some militants.
“The joint team in the meantime fired some warning shots towards the suspected spot which was responded by militants and it was retaliated, triggering off a gunfight”.
“During the course of gunfight, two militants have been killed and their bodies along with two weapons were recovered from the site late this afternoon,” the officer said, adding that both the slain militants were affiliated with JeM outfit.
SSP Shopian Sandeep Choudhary identified the slain militants as Showkat Ahmad of Heramain and Yasir Ahmad Shah of Aarhama.
The SSP added that Showkat was an SPO-turned-militant and had joined the militant outfit last year.
Meanwhile, massive protest erupted near encounter site and its adjoining villages including Gadapora as protesters tried to march closer to the gunfight spot. The forces used pellets and tear smoke shells to disperse the protesting youth. The stone pelting clashes amid a shutdown was also received from neighbouring Pulwama district
At least fifteen youth were injured in the clashes near encounter site. Among the fifteen injured, ten of them were taken to district hospital Shopian for treatment. A policeman namely Tariq Ahmad also sustained serious head injuries after being hit by a stone during clashes in adjoining Ratnipora village of the district, the official sources said.
A doctor who operated upon them said that five youth suffered pellet injuries in their eyes while one of them had been shot in the neck.
“All the ten injured were later referred to different hospitals in Srinagar for advanced treatment,” he said.
Meanwhile, in wake of the gunfight, the internet services were suspended in Shopian for precautionary measures. (With inputs from GNS)

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Centre bans JKLF under ‘anti-terror’ law

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New Delhi, Mar 22: The Yasin Malik-led Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was banned by the Centre under ‘anti-terror’ law on Friday, officials said.
The outfit has been banned for alleged promotion of secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, they said.
They said the organisation has been banned under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Its chief Yasin Malik is under arrest and at present lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.
This is the second organisation in Jammu and Kashmir which has been banned this month. Earlier, the Centre had banned the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir.
Reacting to banning of JKLF, PDP president and former J&K CM, Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Yasin Malik renounced violence as a way of resolving J&K issue a long time ago. He was treated as a stakeholder in a dialogue initiated by then PM Vajpayee ji. What will a ban on his organisation achieve? Detrimental steps like these will only turn Kashmir into an open air prison.”
National Conference Vice President and another former CM of the state, Omar Abdullah, too expressed his thoughts over the decision.
“For 4 1/2 years (four and a half years) Yasin Malik isn’t a threat, Jamaat Islami isn’t a threat, Pakistan National Day is a function that must be attended. Now suddenly once an election is announced an immediate u-turn is executed,” he wrote on Twitter.

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