Srinagar, May 16: The Special Investigation Agency (SIA) of Jammu and Kashmir Police has arrested two absconding terrorists involved in the killing of Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq over three decades ago, a top police official said today.
Addressing a press conference, the Special DG, CID, RR Swain said that the case was registered at Nigeen police station into the killing of Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq on 21 May 1990.
In a written statement, a police spokesman said that five terrorists were involved in the killing. He identified them as Abdullah Bangroo & Rehman Shigan, Ayub Dar, and Javaid Bhat & Zahoor Bhat.
While Bangroo and Shigan were killed in separate encounters with the security forces and couldn’t face trial, Dar underwent trial and was convicted for life. He is currently serving sentence in Srinagar central jail.
“Javaid Bhat & Zahoor Bhat were absconding and hence escaped trial. Now apprehended,” read the statement.
“In a significant operation, SIA of J&K Police have arrested two Hizbul-Mujahideen terrorists: Javaid Ahmad Bhat code Ajmal Khan S/o Late Habibullah Bhat R/o Solina Bala, A/P Azad Basti Natipora Srinagar and Zahoor Ahmad Bhat code Bilal S/o Late Mohamad Ramzan Bhat R/o Danderkhaw Batamaloo Srinagar,” added the statement.
Both were absconding after murdering Mirwaiz on 21 May 1990, it said. “The two had gone underground and during all these years were variously hiding in Nepal and Pakistan among other places before surreptitiously returning back to Kashmir few years ago. Maintaining a low profile, changing addresses and shifting residences, they avoided the gaze of law enforcement agencies.”
“Accused in CBI case RC0501990S008 (pertaining to killing of Mirwaiz Farooq) they are now liable to immediately face trial in a designated TADA court in Delhi which has already completed the trial in respect of one of the five accused namely Ayub Dar code Ishfaq son of Late Abdul Ahad Dar of Rawalpora of Srinagar who has been convicted and serving a life sentence. Two other absconding accused terrorists found guilty in the killing of Mirwaiz, Abdullah Bangroo and Abdul Rehman Shigan, got killed in encounters with security forces in the 1990s.”
“To recapitulate, on 21 May 1990, Mirwaiz Farooq, the head priest of Kashmir was killed by terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen accusing him of being a ‘peacenik’ and an ‘Indian agent’,” added the statement.
“Case FIR No 61/1990 came to be registered in Police Station Nageen, Srinagar to investigate the crime. Thereafter the government of the day transferred the investigation to CBI on 11 June 1990.”
“After a long and arduous legal process of investigation and prosecution, the designated TADA court, in 2009, convicted the only arrested accused Ayub Dar for life. The remaining four remained on run. While two (Abdullah Bangroo & Rehman Shigan) died in encounters, Javaid Bhat and Ayub Bhat managed to evade.”
“Ayub Dar, the convicted terrorist and one of the killers appealed against his conviction, which however, was upheld by the Division Bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal No.535 of 2009 on 21 July 2010.”
“Before killing Mirwaiz, all the five HM terrorists had gone to Pakistan for terrorist training in 1990. Back in Srinagar, Abdullah Bangroo received instructions in April 1990 from his ISI handler in Pakistan to eliminate Mirwaiz.”
Paraphrased excerpts from Supreme Court order:
In the year 1990 itself, in the month of April, accused Abdullah Bangroo, Javed Ahmed Bhat alias Ajmal Khan and Mohd. Ayub Dar alias Ishfaq, who belongs to Hizbul Mujahideen, entered into a criminal conspiracy to eliminate Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq. Accused Abdulla Bangroo, who was then heading Hizbul Mujahideen, instructed Javed Ahmed Bhat alias Ajmal Khan and Mohd. Ayub Dar alias Ishfaq to plan elimination of Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq. Javed Ahmed Bhat alias Ajmal Khan was then working as an Area Commander of Hizbul-Mujahideen in the downtown area of Srinagar;
whereas the Javed was working as a Group Commander in that very area. Later on, Abdul Rehman Shigan alias Inayat and Zahoor Ahmed alias Bilal also joined the conspiracy. It came out in the investigation that, in the second week of May, 1990, under the instructions of Javed Ahmed Bhat alias Ajmal Khan, Mohd. Ayub Dar alias Ishfaq and Abdul Rehman Shigan alias Inayat had visited the residence of Moulvi Farooq at Nageen, Srinagar and had requested him for financial help to their terrorist organization i.e. Hizbul Mujahideen. Moulvi Farooq had agreed to help them and had asked them to meet after 2/3 days during the morning hours. Thereafter, two accused surveyed the area as per their plan and informed the details to Javed Ahmed Bhat alias Ajmal Khan. It was on 21.05.1990 that the three accused namely Mohd Ayub Dar alias Ishfaq , Abdul Rehman Shingan alias Inayat and Zahoor Ahmed alias Bilal alias Jana armed with loaded pistol visited the `Mirwaiz Manzil' at Nageen. Accused Javed Ahmed Bhat alias Bilal had instructed the appellant that, out of the three accused persons, Zahoor Ahmed alias Bilal would fire on Moulvi Farooq and the remaining two accused persons namely Ayub Dar and Abdul Rehman Shingan were to provide cover to Zahoor Ahmed alias Bilal.
As per the plan, they all reached the gate of Mirwaiz Manzil and met Maqbool Shah, the gate-keeper and informed him that they wanted to meet Moulvi Farooq. Maqbool Shah then asked Gulam Qadir Sofi, the gardener, to take them to the Personal Assistant as he himself was going to the market.
Accordingly, the gardener - Ghulam Qadir Sofi took the three to the Personal Assistant namely Saidur Rehman , who asked them about their names and one of them disclosed his fake name as Gulzar Farooq R/o. Batmaloo. That name was written by the Personal Assistant on a slip of paper and the said slip was sent inside the room of Moulvi Farooq through the gardener Ghulam Qadir Sofi. After sometime, Moulvi Farooq called the three accused inside the Office, on which Zahoor Ahmed alias Bilal entered the room of Moulvi Farooq and the remaining two accused persons including Javed Bhat took position in the PA's room. On entering the room of Moulvi Farooq, Zahoor Ahmed alias Bilal fired several rounds on Moulvi Farooq from his pistol and immediately, accused Inayat also fired from his pistol in the air while coming out of PA's room, which hit the outside wall of the Office. On hearing the sound of firing, the gardener came inside the Office and tried to catch hold of Ishfaq, who was trying to escape.
However, all the accused persons escaped giving a push to the Gardener Ghulam Qadir Sofi. Accused Bilal also tried to run away, but he was caught by Ghulam Qadir Sofi. There was a scuffle between the two, in which Bilal sustained an injury below his right eye. Later, after firing one round from his pistol, Bilal also managed to escape. The accused persons ran towards Kashmir University, who were followed by Ghulam Qadir Sofi upto the main road and near the University Gate, the assailants ran towards Soura through the University compound and reached Chatargam in the afternoon of 21.05.1990. They then reported killing of Moulvi Farooq to Abdulla Bangroo alias Ajmal Khan. All the three accused persons were directed by Abdullah Bangroo, to go underground for some time.
During trail running for several years, it could be established that the terrorist who pulled the trigger on Mirwaiz Farooq on the fateful day on the directions of then HM commander Abdullah Bangroo was Zahoor Bhat who ironically succeeded in evading arrest by going into hiding.