Seven members of three families in Saderkoot Bala, Bandipora were killed by government gunmen on this day in 1996.
Police later registered an FIR (No. 125/1996) but the case is yet to be chargesheeted.
"This is despite the fact that eye-witnesses have clearly identified the government gunmen responsible for the massacre including prime accused Abdul Rashid Parray, alias Rashid Billa, Wali Muhammad Mir and Muhammad Ayoub Dar," the family members of the victims said, adding that they were forced to move J&K High Court this year [Petition No. OWP 732/2015] to revive the investigation in the case.
Despite the intervention of High Court, J&K Police continue to 'shield the accused in this case', as brought out by objections filed by Muhammad Shabir, Senior Superintendent of Police Bandipora in the petition in High Court.
"The SSP (Shabir) accepts that the accused government gunmen have been identified, three of whom are alive, but states that they are yet to be arrested as they 'are wilfully and deliberately evading their arrest'. Further, SSP states that it is denied that the government gunmen were working under 13 Rashtriya Rifles. All three accused are in Bandipora district, regularly sighted by the public and main accused Rashid Billa has police protection. In fact, Rashid Billa is working at and draws salary from the Block Development Office, Hajin," the victim family members said.
"This case once again illustrates that a change of government or the intervention of the judiciary do not affect the status quo vis-à-vis human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir where impunity for the perpetrators has become a norm," they added, demanding that police must immediately arrest the accused, carry out fair and proper investigations on the role of 13 Rashtriya Rifles, and submit a chargesheet before the court.