Poll day killings: Court directs police to record statements of witnesses

Poll day killings: Court directs police to record statements of witnesses

The judicial magistrate Budgam has directed the Budgam police to comply with court orders requiring them to record the statements of family members of killed civilian Abbas Ahmad Rather and file a compliance report on May 26. 

The mother and sister of Abbas Ahmad Rather are eyewitnesses in the case. Despite repeated court orders and the passage of more than a year, the police have chosen to disregard court orders and side with the accused armed forces personnel.

On 9 April 2017, two civilians, Abbas Ahmad Rather (aged 22) and Faizan Ahmad Dar (aged 11), both resident of Hardu Dalwan, Chrar-i-Sharief, Budgam, were killed in armed forces’ firing at the same location, outside the Government Secondary School used as a polling booth on that day.

Police Station Chrar-i-Sharief filed FIR no. 21/2017 based on a report from sub-inspector Ajay Kumar Upadhyay (E Coy 18th Bn BSF) alleging attack on forces by a “violent mob”. Contesting this version, fathers of both civilians approached the police and submitted that their sons were killed in unprovoked, targeted firing. Police refused to file an FIR with this version of events, and so they approached the Chief Judicial Magistrate Budgam, who directed, in separate orders, that while the second FIR may not be registered, the police take into consideration the version of the family members of the killed civilians while carrying out investigations. 

On the refusal of the police to record any statements, the father of Abbas Ahmad Rather again approached the court (Judicial Magistrate Budgam) that directed the investigating officer (Ali Mohammad Dar, deputy superintendent of police, SDPO Chrar-i-Sharief) to appear in court. The investigating officer chose to disregard the direction for appearance and the court.

On 17 April, the court again directed that the statements of the family members be recorded. Today, while initially arguing that recording of statements was the prerogative of the police, the prosecution officer stated that the statements would be recorded and sought time which was granted till 26 May.

A total of nine civilians were shot dead by government forces on April 9, 2017, when Srinagar parliamentary constituency went to polls. The constituency – comprising of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts – saw a paltry seven percent voting as the pro-freedom leadership called for a boycott. However, National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah was declared winner from the constituency and presently represents the constituency in the Parliament.