2009 Shopian rape and murder case

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The Shopian rape and murder case is the alleged abduction, rape and murder of two young women in mysterious circumstances between 29 and 30 May 2009 at Bongam, Shopian district in the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir. Two women who were sisters-in-law went missing from their orchard on the way home on 29 June 2009. The next day morning, their bodies were found both one kilometer apart.[1]

Victims[edit]

Neelofar Jan, age 22, wife of Shakeel Ahmed Ahangar and mother of two-year-old son Suzzane. Aasiya Jan, age 17, daughter of Abdul Gani Ahangar. She had secured distinction in her matriculation exams in previous year and was a pre-medical student of New Greenland Higher Senior Secondary School in Alialpora, Shopian. Neelofar was Aasiya’s sister-in-law and both were residens of Bongam in Shopian.

Initial stages of investigations[edit]

The villagers alleged that both were raped and murdered by the security forces. A protest called up by a separatist leader turned violent and the administration declared a curfew-like situation lasted for over 47 days.[2] A press release by the police on 30 May stated "Post-mortem conducted revealed no marks on the dead bodies including private parts." No FIR was registered for either rape or murder [3] and the government of Jammu and Kashmir ordered for a judicial probe by Justice Muzaffar Jan into the incident because of people's lack of faith in police investigations.[1]

On 7 June 2009, Jammu and Kashmir police filed FIR of rape and murder following widespread protest across the state.[4]

Case history[edit]

While on 31 May 2009, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, appointed Muzaffar Jan to carry out the probe and complete the inquiry in one month’s time. The Superintendent of Police, Dr Haseeb Mughal, and The Chief Prosecuting Officer, Abdul Majid Dar, were to assist in the probe, headed by Justice (retired) Muzaffar Jan. The report would be subsequently tabled in the state assembly to make it public.[5] The notification issued in this regard by the Home Department said that the Commission shall:

  • ascertain whether there had been any foul play in their death and, if so, identify the person/persons responsible.
  • perform all other functions necessary for holding of inquiry and submit its report within one month from the date of the notification.
  • ascertain whether there was any failure on the part of any government department in the conduct of any investigation or handling of the post-incident situation.
  • The Commission, appointed in exercise of powers conferred by Section 3 of the J&K Commission of Inquiry Act, shall recommend action as deemed necessary against the person/persons involved/responsible and suggest action as may be necessary to ensure non-repetition of such incidents.

The government has further directed that the provisions of sub-section 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Section 5 of Commission of Inquiry Act shall be applicable to the Commission.

Outcome of Justice Jan commission[edit]

The final report filed by Justice Jan Commission is summarised in seven parts.

Timeline of probe and police findings and fact-finding committee[edit]

Date Details
6 June 2009 Justice (retired) Muzaffar Jan established his office in Circuit House Shopian and started its functioning.[6]

The Shopian Bar Association formed a six-member ‘fact finding committee’ which included Advocate S M Iqbal, Advocate Ajaz Hussain, Advocate Ghulam Hassan Dar, Advocate Sheikh Mubarak and Advocate A M Mir and headed by Advocate M.Y. Bhat.[6]

The Forensic Science Lab report confirmed gang rape of the duo. Reports will be presented to the authorities on Sunday, 7 June 2009.

7 June 2009 Police registered a case under section 376 of Indian Penal Code after Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) report confirming rape on two women. The case was registered under FIR no 112/2009 in Police Station Shopian.[7]
8 June 2009 The director general of police, Kuldeep Khoda, ordered constitution of a three-member special investigation team consisting of Shah-Din Malik, SP Incharge commandant IRP 5th battalion as Incharge, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, deputy superintendent of police, Awantipora, and Najeeb Hussain Nahvi senior prosecuting officer of Crime Branch Kashmir as its members, for expeditious investigation of the case. This team would investigate the case under the supervision of DIG south Kashmir Range.[8]

Commission ordered police to handover a complete report about the duty schedule and leave schedule of the policemen stationed in various pickets around the place wherefrom the two women disappeared on 29 May besides commission along with his team also visited both the spots from where police recovered the bodies.[9]

9 June 2009 CoI summoned all the doctors of both the teams who conducted post-mortem of the victims and recorded their statements in detail.[10]

Health officials submitted their report to DGP. Reports ruled out death of the victims due to drowning or consuming poison. The report said unmarried girl Asiya died due to violent sexual assaults. The assaults were so violent that she sustained severe multiple injuries, resulting in bleeding of various body parts and subsequent death while Neelofar died of neurogenic shock.[11][12]

The High Court Bar Association probing the matter independently released its fact-finding report which concluded that the duo were abducted, gang-raped and murdered rather were raped even after the murder. Their report demanded police to file case under sections 363, 366, 376, 120B of RPC for kidnap of a minor, abduction of a major, rape, murder and conspiracy respectively. It even mentioned that the SP had forced the doctors to change statements and that the SP of Shopian, concerned SHO, Shafeeq Ahmed, doctors of the hospital, Shopian, Dr Hilal, Dr Nazir and Dr Bilquees, all are guilty of failure of duties and destruction of proof.

10 June 2009 Police filed FIR against murder of the duo too, under 302 Ranbir Penal Code.[13]
12 June 2009 Former SP Javed Iqbal Mattoo admitted his failure of duties in front of the commission led by Justice (retired) Muzaffar Jan, who seized his SIM card. The SP said received a call from Station House Officer at 5:30 am on 30 May 2009 for recovery of body of Neelofar Jan and instead of reaching the crime site, he was busy exercising at his residence and to add on, he didn't appoint any guards at the crime site for recovery of any evidence or links to culprits. He further mentioned that there were distinct marks of violence and injuries on the bodies of victims but still no FIR was filled against it.
13 June 2009 The inquiry commission led by Muzaffar Jan questioned and recorded statements of the Deputy Inspector General, Rakesh Kumar, former Deputy Commissioner, M R Thakur and lady doctor, Dr Bilquees who assisted first post mortem.
14 June 2009 The commission with Muzaffar Jan as its head, questioned The Head of the Forensic Medicine Department, Dr Fareeda Noor, the Head of the Legal Cell of the Forensic Medicine department, Javed Iqbal Hafiz, and Shakeel Ahmad, Mushtaq Ahmad and Suhail Ahmad. The commission accused The Legal Cell head, Javed Iqbal Hafiz for delay in sending FSL report of victims, to Shopian police, which he received on 2 June 2009 but kept it undisclosed for five days.

The commission further mentioned FSL report, which confirms rape, as UNSETTLED and INDEFINITE to prove the cause death of the victims. Dr Fareeda Noor mentioned that cause of death could have easily identified if samples from vital organs like heart, spleen, brain were obtained at the time of post mortem. Hence, commission might order exhumation of the victims bodies to establish justified cause of death of the duo.

17 June 2009 The Commission Of Enquiry and Special Investigating Team on, questioned four Special Operations Group's officials and asked a woman police officer and an expert from forensic medicine from Srinagar to assist them in further progress.
21 June 2009 The inquiry commission led by Jan on, submitted a 300-page interim report to Chief Minister Of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah confirming rape and murder of the two victims. The report further stated negligence of civil administration, police and doctors in mishandling the case leading to destruction of vital evidences related to the case.
22 June 2009 The government, on basis of Interim Report of Commission Of Inquiry, suspended the former Superintendent of Police, Javaid Iqbal Mattoo, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rohit Baskotra, the former Station House Officer, Inspector Shafiq Ahmad, the Sub-Inspector, Gazi Abdul Karim, and the Legal Cell Head, Forensic Science Laboratory, Javaid Iqbal Hafiz for their alleged negligence in handling the incident.[14][15][16]
23 June 2009 The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association who was probing the matter independently on submitted its report to the High Court and hearing for same is announced on 29 June 2009 by the court.
25 June 2009 Dr Bilal Ahmed and Dr Nighat Shaheen were placed under suspension failure to follow due procedure during autopsy. However, Dr. Nighat claims that she was only called as an expert to conduct the gynaecological examination on the victims while she was suspended for negligence in conduct of autopsy, which she was never asked to do. She alleged that she was victimized for telling the truth.[17]
30 June 2009 Deadline for submission of final inquiry report extended for another 10 days on the request of Commission. Report to be submitted on 10 July.

Special Investigation Team (SIT) of police submitted the status report along with its objections over two petitions before Chief Judicial Magistrate Shopian for the two separate petitions related to the case. One petition was filed by Shakeel Ahmad, the brother of Asiya and husband of Neelofar, in which he had prayed that the four police officers of FSL indicted by the Jan Commission and later placed under suspension by the government for destroying evidences be made accused in the rape and murder case. The court had asked the government to file objections on 30 June. In another petition filed by the Shopian Bar Association, CJM was urged to monitor the investigations and ask the SIT to present the status report and case dairy in the court. The petition had also sought brain mapping of those whose names the SIT after investigation had involved in the case. Bar Association in its petition wanted registration of a murder case, presenting of a report of investigations into court, appointing of a special investigation by the court and monitoring of investigations by the court. It had also urged the High Court that directions be given to the state government not to allow police, SOG, CRPF and army personnel in Shopian to move out of station from their camps while the investigations were in progress.[18]

12 August 2009 The alleged tampering of DNA test reports in the Shopian case rocked the Jammu and Kashmir assembly with opposition and ruling party members insisting on a debate on the issue, leading to suspension of the question hour.[19]

Rejection of probe[edit]

The High Court Bar Association, on 1 June 2009, rejected the probe ordered by the government demanding a sitting Judge of High Court or Chief Justice to carry out the probe instead of a retired Justice, Muzaffar Jan, while separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani demanded Amnesty International to probe the incident and also urged the High Court Bar Association to probe the matter at their own level so that the people could know the truth. However, the Advocate General of Jammu and Kashmir, Muhammad Ishaq Qadri commented that the Commission of Inquiry headed by a sitting or a retired judge does not make any difference regarding the legality of its findings, which are recommendatory in nature in both the cases. Unionist leader of the opposition in the assembly and the PDP president, Mahbooba Mufti, also rejected the government’s inquiry commission into the case, and called upon the prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to review the performance of the state’s ruling coalition personally as according to her, it had failed to extent of not registering an FIR of rape and murder in the case.[20]

Protests, arrests and curfew[edit]

As soon as the news about the incident spread in the Kashmir valley, spontaneous protests started. These protests were followed by the strike call by the secessionist leaders. Demands for justice, self-determination and removal of the Indian forces started. As soon as the protests started, police and Indian armed forces in order to halt the protests batten charged the protesters and fired repeated tear gas canisters. Many separatist leaders were put under house arrest or jailed.

Date Details
30 May 2009 As soon as the news about the incident spread in the area, the entire area was rocked by spontaneous protests. Hundreds of people, including a large number of women, took to streets shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. Police used tear gas and batons to disperse them, who retaliated by pelting stones.[21][22]
31 May 2009 Heavy protest was seen throughout Jammu and Kashmir. Police lobbed scores of tear gas shells and cane charged to quell the protesters injuring more than 40 persons.[23]
1 June 2009 Hurriyat Conference (G), chairman, Syed Ali Geelani called for strike and peaceful protest against the incident. A complete shutdown was observed throughout Jammu and Kashmir with all government offices, shops, schools, banks remained closed. Protest was observed in Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipora, Kupwara, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam.[24][25][26]

Protesters restored to stone pelting after police and paramilitary troops fired tear gas shells to disperse the crowd, injuring more than two dozen people.[27][28] In Shopian, house of the Local legislator was damaged by mobs. Hurriyat Conference (G), chairman, Syed Ali Geelani renewed the strike call for next two days.[24][25][28]

2 June 2009 A complete shutdown and protest was seen throughout Jammu and Kashmir in response to the Hurriyat chairman, Syed Ali Geelani’s extended strike call.
4 June 2009 The complete valley was shut down with heavy protest against the incident.

In Srinagar, 80 people including 8 policemen were injured. The S.P. of Police, city South, Irshad Ahmed and four policemen were injured and a CRPF bunker belonging to 157 Battalion was set on fire when group of youths pelted stone on the police party in Batmaloo, Srinagar. Protest also marred polling in Hazratbal Assembly Constituency.[29]

5 June 2009 Shops, businesses, schools, government offices and banks remained closed across the Kashmir for fifth consecutive day in response to strike call by separatists to protest alleged rape and murder of two women from Shopian.

The Hurriyat Conference(G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani, renewed the strike till Sunday, when a comprehensive program will be delivered for further action. He has been authorised by the Majlis Shoura, the highest decision making body of the amalgam.[30]

7 June 2009 The seventh day of continued shutdown and protest throughout Kashmir valley leading to 40 civilians and 6 police men injured.[31]
8 June 2009 The 8-day-long shutdown in entire Kashmir valley was revamped but strict protests were observed throughout. The Hurriyat Conference(G) asked male students, female students and employees to hold peaceful protest within their campuses on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively followed by PHULWAMA MARCH on Friday.

"SHOPHIAN CHALO" (peaceful march towards Shopian) announced by The Hurriyat Conference(G) Chairman, Syed Ali Geelani was foiled by police and troops by exhaling curfew like situation in all the parts of the valley. The processions carried out by Muslim Khawateen Markaz led by Zamrooda Habib in Srinagar, by JKLF activities led by Abdul Rashid in Kupwara were stopped by using extensive forces.

The Shopian district saw heavy injuries caused by police and CRPF troops against peaceful protests. 5 people named Zahoor Ahmad of Chakura, Ashiq Ahmad Ganai, Shawkar Ahmad and Jalal-ud-din Bhat, from Baskuchan, and Fazlul Mateen of Handew were critically injured as police broke out firing at Sofan Namam of Shopian district. Four persons identified as Javed Ahmad Bhat, Imtiaz Ahmad Bhat, Shakeel Ahmad Ganai and Shahnawaz Ahmad from Keegam were severely injured in tear smoke shelling at Rang Kadal in Shopian. A person, Riyaz Ahmad, sustained heavy injuries due to beating by the troopers.[32]

19 June 2009 The Varmul March call of the Hurriyat Conference(G) was crushed by police and paramilitary forces by sealing all the roads to varmul with curfew like situation. A complete shutdown was seen throughout Kashmir due to restrictions by police.[33]

In Srinagar, at Nowhatta Chowk, youths protested by pelting stones after police used gruesome force against their peaceful protest leading to injuring of 20 people and 3 journalists in which one was UNI photojournalist and other 2 were working with local channels as video journalists.[34] Islamabad, Kulgam, Phulwama, Bijbehara and Ganderbal also saw protests by civilians against the incident.

20 June 2009 The strike was observed with complete shutdown of valley as per the Hurriyat Conference(G)'s call. Shops, banks, government offices, business, school, all were closed with no public transport on the roads. The police and troops didn't allow any vehicle to head towards Srinagar from other parts of Kashmir due to visit of Vice President of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, who visited to attend the annual convocation of the Kashmir University.[35]

The strike at Shopian entered its 22nd day with continuous protests. The police and CRPF troops quelled peaceful protests with tear gas shelling and rubber bullets firing injuring 12 people including six women out of which one woman named Razia, daughter of Abdul Rasheed was severely injured and was admitted to SKIMs [36]

23 June 2009 On the Hurriyat's call, teachers throughout the Kashmir valley protested demanding punishment for culprits responsible for the incident. The largest protest was seen at Press Colony, Srinagar by the teachers. The Jammu Kashmir Freedom League's activists also protested at Lal Chowk, Srinagar followed by a march towards United Nations office to submit a memorandum about human rights violations in the valley but police prevented them.[37]

Curfew[edit]

Date Details
On 31 May 2009, an undeclared curfew was imposed in Shopian district.[38]

On 1 June 2009, in old city, section 144 crpc was imposed to maintain law and order. Police imposed restrictions on the movement of people.[24]

30 May 2009 Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah were kept under house arrest to lead any agitations.[28]
3 June 2009 Several Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) activists including Advocate Tasaduk Hussain, son of MLA, Bijbehera, Abdul Rehman were detained after they tried to carry out the protest demonstration at Lal Chowk in Islamabad township and Awami National Conference (ANC) district President, Bashir Ahmad Pahalwan was also detained.

The Police arrested Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, from his residence at Hyderpora and was released at mid night from Humhama Police Station.[30]

5 June 2009 The JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik, with his few supporters, were detained by police while they were leading the protest against the incident after Friday prayers.[39]
6 June 2009 The Hurriyat Conference (M), Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, The Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, The JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik and about a dozen other separatist leaders remained under house arrest in the Kashmir Valley. The chief of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) Shabir Ahmad Shah and more than 70 other senior and second rank leaders also remained under detention in different jails and police stations.[30]
10 June 2009 The SP of Shopian, Javed Iqbal Mattoo, was transferred to Ramban and Shahid Mehraj who was holding Deputy Commandant IRP, 12 replaced his position. This action was taken due to delay by him, in filing FIR against the incident.[40]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  34. ^ [2][dead link]
  35. ^ [3][dead link]
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External links[edit]