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‘Logical conclusion’: Magisterial inquiry into Shopian killings kept on hold?

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Srinagar, Feb 14: Nineteen days later, magisterial inquiry into the civilian killings at Shopian is still incomplete, with the Supreme Court’s directive claimed to have created a dilemma.
Two civilians were killed after army’s 10 Garhwal Rifles fired on protesters in Shopian on January 27. Another civilian injured in the incident succumbed five days later.
An FIR was registered against army in police station Shopian under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), and 336 (endangering life) of the Ranbir Penal Code.
Facing opposition’s ire, the Mehbooba Mufti-led government ordered a magisterial probe into the killings.
The probe, as per the CM, was to be completed within 20 days and the investigation taken to its “logical conclusion”.
However, in a writ petition by Lt Col Karamveer Singh, father of army Major Aditya Kumar, who headed the accused unit, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the J&K government to take “no coercive steps on the basis of the FIR registered at Police Station Shopian against Major Aditya Kumar”.
Deputy Commissioner Shopian, Muhammad Aijaz Asad, who heads the government probe, told The Kashmir Monitor on Wednesday that the apex court’s directive has “affected” the magisterial inquiry.
“The FIR is the basis of the enquiry. We are taking legal opinion on the matter after the Supreme Court’s recent direction seeking what its affect would be on the probe,” Aijaz said.
Asked about the progress made in the time-bound inquiry, he said, “No witnesses are ready to cooperate.”
“We have identified the witnesses but they are not ready to come forward,” he said. “We will wait for them. It is for their benefit that they come forward.”
Senior Advocate Zaffar Qureshi, however, told The Kashmir Monitor that the court ruling only prevents the arrest of the accused Major.
“However, the same shall not have any impact on the magisterial inquiry,” he said. “The FIR and the investigation can go ahead. It (SC directive) won’t have any effect on it.”
Qureshi said the witnesses not coming forward would eventually lead to the investigation getting scuttled.
“It is important that the witnesses officially record their statements, otherwise, tomorrow when the court will ask the state whether it has completed the enquiry, the state will respond that no witnesses came forward and the case will be closed.”