BATAMALOO FIRING: Police file charge-sheet against 10 accused, including journalist Sultan

The police Thursday booked 10 persons including a journalist, a woman, a house-owner and his nephew for allegedly providing shelter to three Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Batamaloo area of Srinagar on August 8 last year and also helping them to flee from the area amid firing.
BATAMALOO FIRING: Police file charge-sheet against 10 accused, including journalist Sultan
Representational pic

The police Thursday booked 10 persons including a journalist, a woman, a house-owner and his nephew for allegedly providing shelter to three Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Batamaloo area of Srinagar on August 12 last year and also helping them to flee from the area amid firing.

In a brief shootout between militants and forces in Diyarwani area of Batamaloo on August 12 last year, while militants managed to secure their escape from the area, three forces personnel sustained injuries of which one policeman later succumbed at an army hospital here.

In a detailed charge-sheet, the police alleged that journalist Asif Sultan—one of the accused—was working for Hizbul Mujahideen outfit and "Hizb letter-pads were recovered from his house during the course of the investigation."

According to the charge-sheet,  three accused are still at large while two of the three militants who were allegedly hiding in a residential house in Batamaloo were killed in two separate gun-battles.

A senior police officer said the police took the case as a challenge and instead of resorting to the slapping of Public Safety Act, focus was to ensure "foolproof investigations".

THE INCIDENT

On August 12, 2018, officials said the police station Batamaloo received information and a police party led by sub-divisional police officer Shaheed Gunj started searches in Diyarwani area of Batamaloo on the basis of "reliable inputs" about the presence of some suspected persons in the house of Muhammad Shafiq Bhat alias Shafiq Molvi, a former militant.

"The militants were hiding in (Shafiq's) house and indiscriminately fired at the police party with an intention to kill them, resulting in serious injuries to police personnel Shakeel-ul-Rehman, constable Parvaiz Ahmed, CRPF personnel ASI Anoop Singh, and constable Ram Kumar," said a police official.

"The injured were evacuated to army's 92 base hospital where constable Parvaiz succumbed. However, militants escaped from the spot taking advantage of darkness".

Following the incident, the police registered a case vide FIR number 173/2018 under section 302, 307, 34 RPC and 7/27 of Indian Arms Act and sections 15, 16 18, 19 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in police station Batamaloo.

INVESTIGATION

According to the police chargesheet, it was found that the death of policeman was caused due to bullet injuries.

"After searching the hideout in the house of (Shafiq Moulvi), investigations revealed that he (Shafiq Moulvi) and Waseem Ahmed Khan of Diyarwani, Batamaloo were involved in harbouring militants in the house for their stay," it reads.

"Both the accused persons were arrested and interrogated/questioned to unearth the facts/circumstances of the incident."

During the investigations, the chargesheet reveals, Shafiq Moulvi and Waseem Khan disclosed the identity of escaped militants as Umar Rashid Wani, Umar Majeed Ganai alias Hanzallah, Aqib Nazir alias Arhan, all residents of Kulgam district.

"All the three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit and were involved in various cases," the chargesheet says. "Subsequently, on their disclosure, sports bag, clothes worn by militants during the incident and vehicle Etios/motorcycles were recovered on their instance and seized as well".

During the course of further investigations, Shafiq Moulvi and Waseem Khan, as per the charge-sheet, further disclosed that the Hizb militants (present in the house) with some overground workers (OGWs)/co-conspirators/associates namely Bilal Ahmed Bhat (third accused and employee at GMC Srinagar), journalist Asif Sultan of Fidousabad Batamaloo and Shaizia alias Pari of Kamad, Dailgam have been affiliated with the Hizbul Mujahdieen and were involved in providing support to (Hizb militants hiding in Moulvi Shafiq's house) to carry out their activities in Srinagar  particularly in Batamaloo areas through militant Abbas Shiekh."

"Shazia alias Pari and Bilal Ahmed Bhat were arrested on August 23, 2018 and Asif Sultan on August 31 for further questioning. During investigations, the accused Shazia disclosed some incriminating statements against the (Hizb militants) and associates for hatching a criminal conspiracy to execute their acts in Srinagar city," the chargsheet reveals. "During the investigations the statements of wife and son of Shafiq Moulvi were also recorded to confirm the militant presence in their house. The accused Shazia disclosed that Asif Sultan is also main worker of Hizb and is a close associate of Abbas Sheikh (a Hizb militant). From the house of Asif Sultan, 17 sheets of letter pads of Hizb were recovered," the chargesheet reads.

It stated that the "accused" Umar Majeed Ganai,  and Umar Rashid Wani were killed by the forces during encounters in Shopian and Kulgam and those who were still at large include Aqib Nazir alias Arhan, Tehseen Ahmed alias Junaid and Abbas Sheikh.

POLICE STATEMENT

A statement issued by a police spokesman said that police submitted the charge sheet in respect of case FIR number 173/2018 of police station Batamaloo.

"The FIR pertains to the incident of August 8, 2018 where in militants hiding in a residential house at Diyarwani, Batamaloo fled away from the spot after indiscriminately firing at police party where in one police personnel Parvaiz Ahmed was killed," he said. "Ten persons have been booked for hatching criminal conspiracy, harbouring militants and giving support to militant organizations besides substantive offences of law."

FAMILIES DENY POLICE CHARGE

The family members of Shafiq Moulvi and Waseem Ahmed Khan while denying the claims made by the police stated that when the policeman was killed, Shafiq and Waseem (uncle and nephew) were already detained by the police.

"All the charges leveled against us are far from reality," said Suhail Khan, brother of Waseem Khan, who is also the nephew of Shafiq Moulvi. 

Yasmeena Akther, the mother of Waseem Khan and the wife of Shafiq Moulvi also echoed similar statement.

"We are only left with only one option and that is to fight a legal battle," they said.

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