This press statement is issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society
Srinagar, 15 August 2012: It is despicable that the police officers responsible for serious human rights violations are receiving awards despite the crimes they have perpetrated. Today’s awards to some of the Jammu and Kashmir Police officers are an act of celebrating tyranny and victimization.
Superintendent of Police, Altaf Ahmad Khan is one of the officers who has been awarded with the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry. Altaf Ahmad Khan is notoriously known for perpetrating human rights violations in the areas where he has served.
On 3rd July 2004 a 16 year old girl (name withheld) was abducted from her school by Altaf Ahmad Khan, then Deputy Superintendent of Police Handwara, and taken to the Zachaldara Police Post. The girl was kept at the Police Post for three hours. Altaf Ahmad Khan and his associates tortured her. Altaf Ahmad Khan tore her clothes. Her shirt and pyjama were removed and she was thrown on the floor. When she asked for water and she was given water with salt and chilli. A heavy roller was rolled over her legs as well. She was kicked in the abdomen by Altaf Ahmad Khan and this resulted in her falling unconscious. Subsequently, the victim realized that she had been raped while she was unconscious as she was bleeding profusely from her vagina.
The victim was hospitalized for close to fifty days where she was operated upon and her uterus was removed.
The girl approached the State Human Rights Commission and on 19 November 2008 the final decision was issued where it was stated that the victim had been subject to “the worst type of human rights violations at the hands of two lady constables and the Dy.S.P. Altaf Ahmad Khan”. The SHRC recommended appropriate relief and an enquiry by a senior administrative/police officer. Despite the SHRC recommendation for an inquiry, it appears no investigations have taken place. Further, Altaf Ahmad Khan was promoted as the Superintendent of Police and has multiple accusations of human rights violations while he was posted in the Sopore area of Baramulla District.
On 31st July 2011 Nazim Rashid Shalla died in police custody in Sopore, due to torture, after being picked up by a joint group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the army. In the extra-judicial execution of Nazim Rashid Shalla, Altaf Ahmad Khan was implicated and transferred from Sopore. During the pendency of the enquiry in the same case Altaf Ahmad Khan on 26th January 2012 received Gallantry Award from the army and now today he received a President’s Police Medal for Gallantry.
Pertinently in 2008, it was reported in the media that Supreme Court Justices Aftab Alam and G.S. Singhvi made observations in court in relation to the practice of fake encounters for rewards in Jammu and Kashmir.
In the past two decades several armed forces personnel and Jammu and Kashmir Police officers notoriously known for human rights violations have received gallantry awards, which suggest the institutional endorsement of the crimes perpetrated by these men in uniform. This policy of awards and the perpetual impunity in Jammu and Kashmir shows the complete disregard of the Indian state towards the human, civil, political and democratic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
On the other hand Police officers who have shown exemplary service towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir have either been dumped or reprimanded. The police officer who conducted the investigation on unmarked graves and mass graves in North Kashmir on the orders of SHRC has not been encouraged. The Assistant Superintendent of Police, Bandipora after carrying out investigation regarding the recent fake encounter killing carried out by Army, was demoted and humiliated, which has sent a message to other officers that performing their duty diligently is undesirable for the government.