CASE 9 : Reyaz Ahmad Bhat

LKH DeskCases, Killings Comments

On 24 November 1993 at around 1:00 pm, a 2nd year Bachelor of Sciences student, Reyaz Ahmad Bhat (21) was picked up by Major D.P.Singh (15 Punjab Regiment) while traveling in a jeep with some other soldiers. Reyaz Ahmad Bhat was then taken to the Filtration Plant Camp, Bagh-e-Islam. On the following day, the father of Reyaz Ahmad Bhat went to the camp, police station and the office of the Deputy Commissioner [DC], Baramulla. This was because people in the area had heard cries of torture from the camp on the night of 24 November 1993. On 25 November 1993, the head of the locality had met Major D.P.Singh who denied Reyaz Ahmad Bhat was with him. Reyaz Ahmad Bhat was killed during torture and his clothes had been found at a stream close to the Filtration Plant Camp. The family states that the DC, Baramulla persuaded the army to hand over the body to the Baramulla Police Station. The family of Reyaz Ahmad Bhat received the body on 26 November 1993. The body bore severe torture marks. The stomach of the victim had been opened, filled with grass, and then stitched back.

Four days after the killing of Reyaz Ahmad Bhat, Major D.P.Singh, an unidentified Colonel and others came to offer money to the family of the victim but this was refused. The family received Rs. 1,00,000 in ex-gratia government relief and compassionate employment under SRO-43 [Statutory Rules and Orders]. The family of Reyaz Ahmad Bhat gave a statement to the IPTK on 30 December 2011. First Information Report [FIR] no. 361/1993 u/s 302 [Murder], 342 [Wrongfully confining person] Ranbir Penal Code, 1989 [RPC] was filed at the Baramulla Police Station. The 22 May 2012 communication from the Jammu and Kashmir Police stated that the case was under investigation. A separate RTI was filed regarding all FIRs against State forces in Jammu and Kashmir. By communication dated 25 December 2013 from the Jammu and Kashmir Police a copy of the FIR was provided and information that sanction for prosecution was awaited. A letter dated 24 June 1997 to the DC, Baramulla from the Senior Superintendent of Police [SSP], Baramulla, confirms that Reyaz Ahmad Bhat was not involved in any subversive activities. Previous to this communication, a letter dated 30 April 1997 from the SSP, Baramulla to the DC, Baramulla, refers to Reyaz Ahmad Bhat as “innocent” and strongly recommends that compassionate employment under SRO-43 [Statutory Rules and Orders] be provided to his family.

The Ministry of Defence, in its affidavit before the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir in 2009 on sanctions for prosecution under the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 [AFSPA], stated in relation to this case that it was not received. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir, in response to information sought through the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 [RTI] on sanctions for prosecutions under AFSPA, stated on 6 September 2011 in relation to this case that sanction was sought on 11 September 1996 and was awaited. By letter dated 8 December 1993 the District Magistrate, Baramulla informed the father of Reyaz Ahmad that a Court of Inquiry had been constituted by the 19th Infantry Division and he was to attend and provide his evidence between 4 and 10 December 1993.

It is noteworthy that it took the Jammu and Kashmir Police and Government of Jammu and Kashmir took three years to investigate and process the case for acquiring sanction for prosecution under AFSPA which apparently helped the perpetrators in evading justice. Further, the available documents do not suggest that a court-martial was conducted in this case by the army. There appears to be something seriously wrong in the manner in which sanctions for prosecution under AFSPA are sought. The Jammu and Kashmir Government states that sanction was sought after the conclusion of the investigations. The Ministry of Defence states they have not received the case. Jammu and Kashmir Police, twenty four years after the incident, claims investigations are ongoing, only to later confirm that sanction was awaited..

Source: Structures of Violence – Case 33

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