Sopore youth’s family accuses son “killed in custody”, moves J-K High Court

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The Jammu and Kashmir High Court issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) government and police on the petition filed by the family of a 26-year-old youth, who died in police custody last year, asking for the enquiry report into alleged killing and registration of an FIR for prosecution under law.

Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey was hearing the petition filed by the mother, Haja Begum, sister, Tahira Akhter, and brother, Javid Dar, of Irfan Dar, who died in police custody on the intervening night of 15 and 16 September last year. Justice Magrey issued a notice to the government and police officials “returnable by or before next date of hearing” i.e. 12 May 2021.

The court has issued notice to Principal Secretary Home Department, Director General of J-K Police, Senior Superintendent of Police, Sopore, Station House Officer (SHO), police station Sopore, SHO Police Station Bomai, District Magistrate Baramulla, and Additional District Magistrate Baramulla.

According to the petition, Dar’s family claims that on 15 September last year, he was picked up by the police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel from his shop in the afternoon. Later, in another raid at his residence in north Kashmir’s Sopore town, his elder brother, Javid Dar was detained by the personnel too; he was let go at 11:30 pm the same day. Irfan was declared dead next morning.

The police claimed that it had taken Irfan for “recovery on the disclosure of the OGW [Irfan Dar] … while taking advantage of darkness and terrain managed to escape… during search the body of OGW was found near Stone Quarry of Tujjar-Sharief.”

In the petition, the family has alleged that Dar “was subjected to worst kind of physical torture while in illegal custody which resulted in his death and his body was thrown in a stone query”. Elder Dar has alleged, as per the petition accessed by The Kashmir Walla, that he was also subjected to “physical and mental torture” by the personnel during his detention.

After Dar’s alleged “custodial killing”, there were widespread protests. A day later, on 17 September, the District Magistrate, Baramulla, ordered a magisterial enquiry by his deputy under section 176 CrPC to ascertain causes and circumstances leading to the death  of the deceased.

The Additional District Magistrate was given twenty days to file the report but it was not filed by Ahsan Mir, the Additional District Magistrate Baramulla, and was instead delayed by more than four months. The family, in the petition, says that they have been denied  access to the report’s findings by the Baramulla district administration.

“If a person dies in custody, they have to show that he wasn’t killed in custody,” the family’s legal counsel Shafaqat Nazir told The Kashmir Walla. “The 176 CrpC mandates an enquiry … but it doesn’t mean that you complete and keep it with you. The truth shall be revealed. How unfortunate is it to conceal the truth. Not giving us the report goes against the very genesis of the enquiry.”

According to the petition, Dar’s family says that “the enquiry report has indicted the Police personnel for killing the deceased in custody and has ruled out the theory of the police that the deceased while fleeing from custody fell into a stone query resulting in his death”.

“The Enquiry Officer, based on the statement of witnesses and the evidences placed on record has also recommended registration of formal FIR against the culprits and further recommendations in favour of the petitioners and against the culprits,” the petition added.
In the petition, Dar’s family also claims: “The deceased bore visible torture marks all over his body including head, chest and limbs. There were visible and apparent burn injuries over the body of the deceased … [Dar] was  tortured to death in Police custody and then a story was cooked up with regard to alleged recoveries and alleged efforts of the deceased to run away from custody.”

In their petition, Dar’s family also said that they had filed a complaint on 2 October 2020 before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also. The NHRC had asked police to file “a detailed report in the matter” but they have not followed up till date.

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