STATEMENT against re-instatement of police officers accused in the Shopian case

Newsletter Sep - Dec 2010

On 17 September, 2010, it was reported that the four policemen accused for tampering with evidence in the Shopian case of double rape and murder were reinstated to their service. A swift response from concerned individuals, lawyers, teachers, etc., and groups including Saheli was issued as a press statement, which we reproduce below.

We condemn the reported reinstatement of four police officers accused of tampering evidence in the Shopian rapes and murders case. Right from the very beginning the police tried to dismiss the rapes and murders of the two women Neelofar and Asiya, whose badly bruised bodies were found in Rambiara nallah in Shopian in the morning of May 30, 2009, as cases of drowning, refused to lodge a first information report and made all possible efforts to tamper with evidence in the case. The policemen were indicted by both the Jan Commission of Inquiry, which held that the tampering of evidence was a deliberate pre-meditated act, and the state high court which maintained that “either they had committed the crime or they knew who had done it.” The policemen have been reinstated on the basis of the CBI recommendations even as the case is still sub-judice in the Jammu and Kashmir state high court, which refused to treat the CBI report as the gospel truth. The voluminous CBI report has even failed to be a convincing document. The court that had earlier ordered their arrest and later released them on bail after a month has still not given the four policemen a clean chit. In light of such facts, the reinstatement of the cops amounts to mockery of the justice system. It goes against the very spirit of justice and fair play. It also highlights the impunity enjoyed by the men in uniform and the absolute patronage given to them by the political authority at the helm of affairs in the state as well as the Centre. Instead of ensuring an impartial enquiry into the whole episode and satisfying the aspirations of the people who peacefully campaigned for justice, the government has allowed the security agencies including the CBI to nail the whistle blowers. It was due to the deliberate acts of omission and commission by the 4 police officers that crucial evidence which could have led to nailing the accused persons was destroyed and lost. The 4 cops should at the very least be charged with criminal negligence, grave dereliction of duty and destruction of evidence.

We are also shocked at the ill-conceived timing of this decision to reinstate the four police officers. Justice in Shopian has been very close to the hearts of Kashmiris for the last one year. At a time when the Valley has been so incensed with the state beginning with the Maachil encounter and the firings on the very young who were protesting against the militarised state under which they have spent all their growing years, such acts of omission are likely to cause more provocation, hurt and desperation among the already alienated and angered population.