Jammu, Nov 9: Central Bureau of Investigation today recorded statement of three eyewitnesses in the Surankote massacre case in which 19 persons, including women and children, were allegedly killed by security forces in 1998.
Informed sources said that the Investigation Officer, appointed by the CBI to probe the case, had summoned half a dozen witnesses from Surankote. "Statements of only three persons were recorded today and the IO asked the other witnesses to come again to Jammu after 10 days," sources, preferring anonymity, told Greater Kashmir.
They said that after registration of case against police personnel and Army officials, the CBI has deputed a Special Investigation Officer to probe the case.
"The CBI Inspector had visited the scene of the crime last month for the first time after registration of the case and now the process for the recording of statement has also begun," sources said.
Acting on the directives of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, CBI in September this year had booked Army officials and police personnel who were posted in the area when the incident took place in August 1998.
On November 22, 2012, Justice M H Attar of J&K High Court had ordered CBI inquiry into the extra-judicial killing in Surankote area of Poonch on a plea by families of the victims seeking a re-investigation.
On the intervening night of August 3 and 4, 1998, 19 persons — six males and 13 females — were killed at the house of Hassan Muhammad Sheikh at Sailan village in Surankote.
The police, in its FIR, had blamed foreign militants for carrying out the killings but an inquiry conducted by the State Human Rights Commission ruled out the involvement of militants.
The survivors, meanwhile, claimed that they were living under constant threat. "We have on several occasions requested the police and district administration to ensure our security as there were apprehensions that the eyewitnesses may be eliminated due to the initiation of probe by the CBI", Abdul Lateef, one of the survivors told Greater Kashmir over phone from Surankote.
"Even today, one of the witnesses who came to depose before the IO in Jammu, was injured after being hit by a motorcycle. Though it could be merely an accident, the witness was so terrified that he preferred to return home instead of getting his statement recorded," Lateef claimed.