Eight years after three teenagers were killed in Anantnag town during the 2010 summer uprising, their families have lost all hopes of justice.
Shujaat-ul-Islam, 17, Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khanday, 15, and Imtiyaz Ahmad Itoo, 17, were reportedly shot at by police personnel in the compound of a house when they were chasing protesters in Anchidora locality of the town on 29 June 2010. Three other persons received bullet injuries in the incident.
Shujaat-ul-Islam of Anchidora was a pious boy and had a passion for reading books and reciting the holy Quran, said his family members. After passing 12th standard, he had begun to support his family. When he was only three-year-old, his father Muhammad, Ashraf Baba, a well known preacher who used to run a madarasa in his locality, was shot dead on 25 May 1996 by pro-government gunmen (Ikhwanis). As Shujaat grew up, he had to shoulder all responsibilities at home. "He worked as salesman at a local shoe shop to support his family. Despite all odds he managed to provide quality education to his younger brother and married off his sister," said Javed Baba, his cousin. "After the marriage of his sister he was happy and wanted to devote all his energy to educate his brother."
Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khanday, son of Ahmadullah Khanday of adjoining SK colony locality, was the lone male child of his parents. He was adored by his family, relatives, friends and neighbors. A student of class 10th, Ishtiyaq was an enthusiastic, talented boy. "They killed him inside the compound of our house," said his father. "He had gone to bring bread."
Khanday said that their repeated attempts to seek justice didn't achieve anything. After the death of his son, Khanday was forced to sell the cab he was driving to pay off the debt he owed for his newly constructed single-storey house. "I married off my only daughter at a young age and my son in law Iqbal, who happens to be my sister's son, puts up with us now," said Khanday. Iqbal, a graduate, supports the family from his small time job at a local notebook unit.
Ishtiyaq's mother, Jameela Bano said since the death of her son her health deteriorated and she is still undergoing treatment. "We were constructing house for him but before we could shift there, he left us alone," said Ban, tears brimming her eyes.
Imtiyaz Ahmed Itoo, 17, from Watargam village in Dialgam, which is about six kilometers from Islamabad town, used to support his family along with his brother. His father, Abdul Ahad Itoo, who is in his mid seventies, is a small time farmer.
Itoo had left studies at an early age to support his family. Called Nikka at home, he was the youngest son among four siblings. "After my two elder sons married, they moved out of our house and started living separately," said his ailing father. "It was Imtiyaz who used to support us. His killing shattered us."
Itoo's mother, Jawahara Begum is also suffering from various ailments. "Since the day Imtiyaz left us, I have not been able to sleep," she said as she broke down. "He was everything to us."
"This killing didn't take place in the dead of the night. It was a murder which we and our children saw. We will never forget it," said a local resident who didn't wish to be named. "Those who committed this heinous crime are roaming free while those including family members of victims who protested against the killings were booked under various charges."
Within minutes of their death, a video was uploaded on Youtube showing all the three boys inside the house compound, lying in a pool of blood.
The government ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident and appointed Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) as the inquiry officer. The police conducted its own investigation and constituted a Special Investigating Team (SIT). The police had in its preliminary report claimed that the trio attacked the Yatra at Laizbal, on Khanabal-Pahalgam (KP) road, located a Kilometer away from the spot of the incident. However, the magisterial inquiry in its report indicted two Sub-Inspectors (Duty officers of police post Sherbagh and police post bus stand) besides three constables.
The Home Department also decided to act on the Magisterial Inquiry Report (MIR) conducted by the then ACR and sought the inclusion of the names of four accused police persons including two SIs in the First Information Report (FIR) but the police booked only one constable. Accordingly murder charges were framed against him by the court while all other accused police persons including two sub-inspectors were only transferred.
The commission of inquiry (COI) headed by Chairman SHRC, Justice Syed Bashir, directed the police to carry identification parade of all the suspected cops but that never happened. The Principal District and Sessions Court on March 20, 2011, after framing murder charges against constable Nisar Lone, directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to carry out further investigation into the case himself, keeping in view the material available against the suspected police officials and submit its report within one month. Till date the report is still awaited.
The court also observed that the police had carried out investigation in a casual and faulty manner and held that there were sufficient grounds for framing charges against the accused constable. However, he too was later granted bail.
"Even the chief minister had admitted on the floor of Assembly that the police action was uncalled and had vowed to bring the culprits to book, but later the case was hushed up and the culprits are roaming free now," said a family member.
The report of ML Koul commission, which was formed to ascertain the circumstances of the 56 deaths out of the total of 120 killings in 2010, which included those of Anchidora incident, was submitted to the government on December 30, 2016. Though the report was not made public but the commission made several recommendations in favor of the next of kin of the deceased that included ex gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh minus 5 lakh, which had already been paid to them, and also a job package. However the families maintain that they did not get Rs 5 lakh compensation or any job package till now.