By Mubashir Bukhari
Jammu/Srinagar, Apr 09: A group of lawyers on Monday prevented Crime Branch (CB) of Jammu and Kashmir Police from filing charge sheet into rape-and-murder of eight year old girl Asifa Bano at Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Kathua.
According to the reports, when the CB team reached CJM court along with the accused persons, the lawyers of Kathua Bar Association started sloganeering and prevented the team to produce the report.
“Go Back, Go Back, Crime Branch Go Back,” the lawyers shouted slogans asking police not to produce the charge sheet in the case.
When the situation turned ugly, police had to rush reinforcement to facilitate the entry of Crime Branch officials into the court.
Later, after the situation was brought under control, the charge-sheet was produced before the CJM, Kathua against the seven accused persons involved in the crime.
Inspector General of Police crime branch, Syed Ahfadul Mujtaba confirmed the charge sheet was produced against the seven accused,” while that of “eighth one is under process”.
The seven accused against whom charge sheet has been produced under sections 302, 376, 201, 120-B RPC are Sanji Ram, 60, the mastermind behind the crime, special police officers (SPO) Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Head Constable Tilak Raj and civilian Parvesh Kumar, Sub-inspector, Anand Dutta and son of Sanji, Vishal.
The Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHBA) is on strike since Thursday in support of various demands including handing over the Kathua rape-cum-murder case to CBI, a demand which was also highlighted by women relatives of the accused who are on an indefinite hunger strike since March 31.
Defending its demand for handing over the Kathua rape-and-murder case of a minor girl to the CBI, JHBA president B S Slathia said it only favoured “fair investigation” of the case as the government sidelined the Jammu crime branch and gave responsibility of the investigation to a special team from Kashmir.
“A criminal is a criminal and not linked to any religion. We demand severe punishment to those who have done wrong but we will not hesitate to raise our voice if the investigation is done in a wrong way,” he said, adding the government should have come forward on its own and handed over the case to CBI.
Bar Association Kathua, whose members were protesting on Monday, in a press statement said that their agitation shall continue.
“The Bar has unanimously decided to keep the work under suspension till April 12. An appeal is made to the civil society, private schools association, Vyapar Mandal Kathua, Transporters’ Union etc to observe complete Kathua bandh on April 11. There shall be complete bandh on April 11 in the whole of Jammu province in support of the demands out forth by Jammu High Court Bar Association,” read the statement.
The move by the Jammu lawyers has miffed the valley lawyers who demand strict action against them.
“Under section 186 of RPC, if anybody interferes with the performance of a public servant performing his duty, action against the concerned person can be taken by the concerned officer. They should have arrested them and filed an FIR,” senior advocate, Zaffar Qureshi said.
“The investigating officer according to this provision should have file a case against them and arrested the protesting lawyers. If not arrest, they should produce a challan against these people,” he said.
He questioned the demands of the Jammu High Court Bar Association which is asking for CBI probe in the case.
“Why are they asking for CBI when state government is already probing it,” Qureshi said.
“They didn’t file any Public Interest Litigation, on what basis are they protesting? It is a criminal matter, where a Muslim girl has been raped in a temple and they are giving it another angle,” Qureshi added.
Official sources said that the crime branch, probing the rape-and-murder, had found hair strands from Devistan temple in Hiranagar after one of the accused revealed during interrogation that Asifa was held captive inside the temple.
The crime site was searched and the hair strands were found and sent to Forensic Laboratory (FSL) New Delhi. The report confirmed that they were that of Asifa.
The report was received by the crime branch along with the postmortem report which has also confirmed the seductive medicine (Clonazepam) used to unconscious the girl by the accused.
The investigating agency has so far arrested eight accused persons including the mastermind Sanji Ram and his son Vishal Kumar, a police head constable, two SPOs and a sub-inspector of police in connection with the crime.
Sanji Ram, a retired revenue officer, surrendered before the crime branch on March 20 and the development came a day after his son Vishal Kumar was arrested from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, in connection with the case (FIR No: 10/2018 U/S 363, 320, 376, 302 RPC). Both father and son were evading arrest in connection with the gruesome rape and murder which send shock waves across the state.
The investigations had revealed that it was not a random crime but part of a wider conspiracy to dislodge the Bakarwal community from the Rassana village in Kathua. Sanji Ram has been bent upon to dislodge the nomad community from Rassana village, the probe said.
“The mastermind behind the entire game was bent upon dislodging the Bakarwal community and in order to execute the nefarious design, he hatched conspiracy (with others),” the SIT submitted in a status report before the high court recently.
The minor girl had been missing since January 10 when she failed to return home from watering horses in her native Rassana forests, and her body was found on January 17.
The next day, after protests rocked the area, the Kathua police had said that a SIT, under SDPO border, had been set up to investigate the case.
On January 20, the government transferred the Station House Officer of the Hiranagar police station, ordering a magisterial probe, and three days later, on January 23, handed the case over to the Crime Branch.
Jaish almost wiped out, no one willing to head it: Army
Srinagar, Apr 24: Army on Wednesday claimed the government forces have “severely targeted” the militants for the last few months and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant outfit was “almost wiped out with no one willing to take over it”.
Addressing a press conference here, GOC 15 Corps, KJS Dhillon, who was accompanied by Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh, IGP Kashmir SP Pani, and IG CRPF Zulfikar Hassan, said that 69 militants have been killed and 12 of them arrested so far this year.
“Post Pulwama incident, 41 militants have been killed and out of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, 13 of them were Pakistanis while 13 were A+ category,” Dhillon said.
The GOC 15 Corps claimed that they have targeted JeM leadership.
“The situation now is so that no one is coming forward to take over the leadership of JeM in the valley,” he said.
“Even after Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress JeM. The operations against the militants will continue with full vigour and we will not let militancy rise up,” he said, while appealing the local militants to surrender.
“Recruitment of local militants has gone down. In addition, those who surrender, we will take care of their security,” he said.
Dhillon also advised civilians not to rush to the encounter sites.
Asked about the bi-weekly restrictions on civilian traffic on the Highway, he replied, “This is just a temporary measure. There are now relaxations on the civilian traffic.”
On the occasion, the DGP said 272 militants were killed in the state during 2018 and a “large number was apprehended.”
He too claimed that the local recruitment in militant outfits had declined.
“2018 was generally a successful year. There has been less ‘law and order’ problem. We brought many youth (who had joined militancy) back to their homes,” the DGP claimed.
“Elections have been conducted peacefully in the state because of a well-planned security grid. Voter turnover at 13 percent in Anantnag district is not less. People voted despite threats, no one can be forced to vote,” he said.
Asked there were reports that 11 youth had gone missing in south Kashmir during the last one month, the IGP Kashmir said, “Few had gone missing but returned. They had gone missing for other reasons, not to join militancy.”
Held Pak militant paraded before media
‘Chota Dujana was active in Srinagar for over a year’
Srinagar, Apr 24: Police on Wednesday presented a Pakistani militant Mohammad Waqar, alias Chota Dujana before the media, who, they claimed, was arrested from Pattan area in Baramulla on Monday.
During a press conference here, the militant was briefly allowed to respond to media.
“My name is Mohammad Waqar, resident of Miana Mohalla Punjab in Pakistan. I underwent a four-month militant training there,” he said.
“I was told that Kashmiris are harassed, women are assaulted and Muslims are not allowed to offer prayers in Masjids. But I did not find any such thing here,” he replied when asked why had he picked up arms.
The militant was soon moved away.
SSP Baramulla, Abdul Wahid, said Waqar was affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba and had arrived in Kashmir in July 2017.
“He was operating in Srinagar for over a year now,” the officer said.
He added that the militant was travelling in a vehicle along with a Kashmiri when they were intercepted by the police near Mirgund, Pattan.
“They were chased and arrested near Chainabal Pattan,” he said.
The SSP said that as per their preliminary investigations, the militant was given shelter in old city as well as uptown areas of Srinagar.
“His plan was to resurrect militancy in Baramulla,” Wahid said.
Malik sent to judicial custody till May 24
New Delhi, Apr 24: A Delhi court Wednesday sent the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, arrested in connection with the alleged funding case, to judicial custody till May 24.
The Tihar jail authorities have also moved an application seeking direction to produce Malik through video conferencing due to security concerns.
The family of Yasin Malik, said on Saturday, that the JKLF chief had fallen ill and was shifted to a Delhi hospital after he went on a hunger strike to protest against his “illegal” detention.
Earlier this month, Malik was brought to Delhi from Jammu and was later arrested by NIA in connection with an alleged case related to the funding of militant and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. He was produced in a special court which remanded him in NIA’s custody till April 22.
Malik was shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail after NIA secured his production remand. The JKLF chief was taken into preventive custody in February by the J&K police and lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.
Malik organisation JKLF was banned last month by the Centre.