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SIT indicts army officer in custodial disappearance case

SIT indicts army officer in custodial disappearance case

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Jammu and KashmirPolice, probing the alleged custodial disappearance of a chemist from Rawalpora here 14 years ago, has invoked the charges of abduction, murder and destruction of evidence against an army officer, who is now a brigadier.

The SIT told the Jammu and Kashmir High Courtyesterday that it is awaiting the Centre’s nod to prosecute the officer.

Manzoor Ahmad Dar (then 35), working as a chemist, was picked up from his home at Rawalpora by unidentified gunmen during the intervening night of January 18-19 in 2002.

Following protests, the police filed an FIR under section 364 of RPC against Army’s 35 Rashtriya Rifles. Subsequently, during the investigation, the name of Major Kishore Malhotra surfaced as an accused.

In its status report, the SIT told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court that the investigation into the case had been completed and the central government nod for prosecution of Malhotra was awaited.

“The custodial disappearance has occurred nearly about 14 years ago which clearly indicates that the disappeared person could have died in custody of 35 RR and accordingly section 302 (murder) of RPC is invoked,” the status report, filed by the SIT, in High Court, reads.

“After offence of abduction under section 364 RPC was established against the accused Malhotra, our efforts to trace the abducted person did not materialise as there was no clue of the youth,” the SIT said in its report.

In August this year, the Supreme Court had asked the Brigadier to cooperate with SIT, but directed the latter not to arrest him, as was directed by the High Court on July 7 this year.
On the direction of the Supreme Court and the J-K High

Court, Malhotra appeared before the SIT on four consecutive days from October 6 to 9 this year and was interrogated.

“During the custodial questioning, he did not admit the custody of the victim and nor did he make disclosures which could lead to Dar’s recovery, which clearly indicates that the accused could have disposed of the body, so offence under 201 RPC is invoked,” the status report said.

“Directions of the SC were not to arrest the accused and accordingly investigation pursuant to directions of the High Court will be made part of the main file which has already been submitted for accord of sanction for prosecution from competent authorities (government of India and army),” the SIT said, adding that the investigation in the case stands closed under RPC Sections 364, 302 and 201.

The SIT filed the report in pursuance to the direction by the HC during the hearing of a petition filed by Dar’s wife Jana. As per the petition, she had deposed before a magistrate that soldiers of 35 RR had come to her house during the intervening night of January 18 and 19, 2002, and took her husband along with them.

Jana had filed a petition in the High Court seeking directions for completing investigation into the custodial disappearance of her husband.

Jana had also deposed that she was not content with the closure report filed by the police and demanded further investigation into the matter. Subsequently, the magistrate directed the investigating officer to conduct the investigation “de novo” (from the beginning).

Jana’s charges were later corroborated by an inquiry conducted by Chief Judicial Magistrate Budgam. Subsequent to the inquiry by the CJM, the HC directed the SHO of police station Saddar to expeditiously conduct the investigation into the FIR already registered.

( Source – PTI )


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