Srinagar: Just like it did today, eight months ago the police in Kralpora was quick to lodge a case of murder against army soldiers for killing a civilian, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, on April 27. What happened to that? A relative of the victim, requesting that he not be named, said, “So far, there has been no visible development in the case. The police have not made public any of their findings, which could have signalled their seriousness in investigating the matter.”
Police officers themselves say that the case is likely to end with the victim family receiving benefits from the government, the process for which is being cleared by the police and district administration.
Kupwara Senior Superintendent of Police Shamsher Hussain told Kashmir Reader that in their report the police have made it clear that the civilian, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, was not part of any protest or stone-pelting, and that he is eligible to receive benefits under the relevant SRO (Service Rules Order) of the government.
“We have given the NOC (No-Objection Certificate) for the SRO case of the said person (Mohammad Yousuf Bhat) and he will soon receive the benefits. We have also written that he was not involved in protests or stone-pelting and that a stray bullet fired by the (armed) forces hit him, resulting in his death,” Hussain said.
“I am not aware about the current status of the case,” he replied to a question from Kashmir Reader.
Mohammad Yousuf Bhat was shot dead by army soldiers in Kupwara’s Panzgam village, when clashes broke out following demands by people for bodies of two slain militants who had stormed an army camp in Panzgam on Thursday morning, killing 3 soldiers, including an officer.
An FIR, bearing number 25/2017 under Section 307 (attempt to murder), which was later changed to Section 302 (murder), was registered against unnamed army soldiers on April 28 for the killing of Bhat during clashes in Panzgam village.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by additional superintendent of police Kupwara, Farooq Ahmad Kaiser, was also constituted to investigate the case. “The SIT has made a case for SRO and has delivered it to the office of deputy commissioner Kupwara for completion of formalities,” a police officer, privy to the details, said.
In June this year, station house officer (SHO), Kralpora police station, Wasim Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that the police have received no response to letters that his office wrote to army officials asking them to identify those who were posted in the area at the time the incident happened.
“So far, they (army) haven’t replied to any of our letters,” the SHO said. “We can only proceed further when we receive any communication from them (army). Till now, we have recorded the statements of a few eyewitnesses but we need more eyewitness accounts to gather information,” Ahmad said.
When this reporter again contacted Ahmad, he refused to comment on the case. “Ask the Investigating Officer about this case. I don’t have any knowledge about this,” he said.
Investigating Officer, Kaiser, told Kashmir Reader that the investigation is on and they have identified the accused.
As per the local witnesses, Bhat was hit by a bullet and died on the spot when army opened fire on people who were demanding the bodies of slain militants.
They said that minor clashes broke out between youths and government forces after some youths tried to march towards the army camp where the bodies of the slain militants were kept. Bhat, they said, was not part of those clashes.