As MHA denies permission to prosecute indicted CRPF officers, Kashmir authorities recommend police be reinstated

Thirteen years after a group of Jammu and Kashmir police personnel were indicted by a judicial investigation for shooting dead eight protesters near south Kashmir’s Brakpora village, an internal inquiry has recommended that they be reinstated after being deprived of increments, documents obtained by The Hindu reveal.

The documents also show that the Central government has denied permission for prosecution of Central Reserve Police Force personnel who fired on the protesters.

Fourteen others were also injured when police fired on the demonstrators who were marching to the office of the Anantnag district magistrate to protest the alleged extra-judicial execution of five local residents by the Army, which said they were terrorists involved in the massacre of Sikhs at Chattisinghpora. The protesters demanded that the bodies of the five be exhumed.

Based on the orders of the J&K High Court, the Home Department ordered a departmental inquiry, by Deputy Inspector-General of Police N.D. Wani, on July 15, 2013. On September 12, 2013, Mr. Wani submitted a report to the Principal Secretary, Home, Suresh Kumar, saying “charges of unprovoked and unwarranted firing on a civilian procession are fully established.”

However, Mr. Wani said “their suspension for the past 13 years has kept them away from policing [and] as such [a] lenient view is hereby taken.” He recommended that their annual increments be forfeited.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who also has charge of the Home Department, did not respond to phone calls from The Hindu. Police officers also declined to comment on the status

Pandian panel findings

The Justice S.R. Pandian Commission, set up by the then Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, soon after the Brakpora incident, recommended dismissal of all CRPF and J&K policemen involved in the bloodshed. Though evidence uncovered by judicial commissions cannot, by law, be used in a criminal prosecution, the then-Chief Minister said his government had accepted the findings of Justice Pandian, a former Supreme Court judge.

Later, in August 2001, the then-DIG Central Kashmir and now Director-General of Prisons K. Rajendra Kumar was appointed as Inquiry Officer, documents reveal. Like Justice Pandian, he too found the seven CRPF and J&K police men guilty of murder.

However, the accused persons — Assistant Sub-Inspector Ashok Kumar, Head Constable Krishen Kumar and Selection Grade Constable Chaman Lal — approached the High Court with the argument that a departmental inquiry against them could not be held under the Civil Service Rules of the State government.

The High Court upheld their view and directed an inquiry under the J&K Police rules, leading to Mr. Wani’s report.

Highly placed sources told The Hindu that the Anantnag Police completed its investigation into the Brakpora firings in FIR No: 95 of 2000, bearing out charges of “murder by unwarranted firing” against four CRPF men and three J&K police personnel. However, none of them was ever arrested or detained for questioning.

On a request from the SSP, Anantnag, and the DIG, South Kashmir, the State Home Department sought the MHA’s sanction for the prosecution of the four CRPF men. The Central government denied sanction in August 2013.

The then SSP Anantnag, Ramesh Kumar Jalla, and DIG Vijay Kumar wrote a letter to DGP Ashok Prasad seeking “further advice in the matter.” A reply, sources said, is still awaited.