Stating that “no genuine efforts” have been taken to conclude investigation into the 1990 Hawal massacre case, an inquiry by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in this regard has blamed an IPS officer for “sabotaging” the investigation.
In an interim report, the Police Investigation Wing of SHRC has said: “No genuine efforts have been taken to conclude investigation of the case . . . as till date no eyewitnesses have been examined or their statements recorded.”
Over 50 civilians were killed and hundreds injured when paramilitary forces opened indiscriminate fire on the funeral procession of Kashmir’s prominent religious and political leader, Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq, on May 21, 1990, at Hawal in Shaher-e-Khaas here.
The State Human Rights Commission in 2014 had directed its Police Investigation Wing to conduct an inquiry into the massacre on a petition filed by Muhammad Ahsan Unto, a local human rights activist.
In the interim report, the rights body’s investigation wing has charged N Sarvada (IPS), then ASP headquarter Srinagar, who was investigating the case, with bias and callous approach in probing the case.
“ . . . At the initial stage of investigation, ASP headquarter , N Sarvada had deliberately conducted the investigation in a biased manner and had not appreciated the significance of recording the statements of independent witnesses,” the report reads.
“The Investigation Officer, N. Sarvada has not recorded the statements of eyewitnesses i.e. the shopkeepers, etc., who were near the scene of occurrence, nor of any injured persons, and has only recorded the statements of CRPF officials.”
Accusing the IPS officer of not taking serious steps to investigate the case, the report states that he has even failed to obtain the list of the deceased and injured persons.
Sarvada, who conducted the investigation from May 21, 1990 to August 13, 1990, didn’t mention anywhere the items “he had seized when he handed over the case to Police Station Nowhatta on his transfer.”
Pointing to “lax” approach of police in probing the case, the report states that nothing is known about where the case file was between August 13, 1990 and November 13, 1992.
Later, the investigation was entrusted to Crime Branch Kashmir.
“Though the Investigation Officer (Crime Branch) after obtaining the list of the injured has made efforts to record their statements, none of the witnesses turned up, as a result of which till date the statements of the injured persons have not been recorded, except for the statements of a few of the NOKs of the deceased,” the interim report reads.
In 1994, the case was closed by the Crime Branch as “untraced” on the directions of then IG Crime.
“Till date no final report has been submitted to the concerned court,” the report reads.
The report states that a Court of Inquiry ordered by the CRPF held its 15 men responsible for “excessive firing on civilians.”
According to the CRPF inquiry, “there was no justification for continued firing from our side”.
“Moreover, our firing should have been directed to the places from where we were fired upon and not to the processionists either on the road or to the exits available to them,” the report, quoting CRPF inquiry, reads.
“The men on duty appeared to have forgotten the art of restraint and magnanimity.”
The CRF men indicted for indiscriminate firing include Lakhan Singh (DySP), Mukthar Singh and Rajinder Singh (both Sub Inspectors).
However, the report submitted by SHRC’s investigation wing states that it was not known what action has been taken against the delinquent officials.