Under pressure from the people and the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to unravel the mystery behind the Shopian rape-murder case, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the police has announced a Rs. 20-lakh award to anyone providing a clue.
The SIT, in front-page advertisements in local dailies announced: “Anyone providing clues to [identification of] the culprits will be given Rs. 20-lakh award. The name of the person providing the information will be kept confidential.” The advertisement has also given the mobile numbers of the SIT officers who could be contacted.
Meanwhile, the Independent Women’s Initiative for Justice (IWIJ) from Delhi has alleged that the case is being covered up, even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah assured a visiting team that his government would make all efforts to get to the bottom of the incident. “The government is committed to punishing the guilty no matter who [they are] and how high a position they hold,” the team quoted him as saying.
The IWIJ group, comprising historian Uma Chakarvarty, law researcher Usha Ramanathan, lawyer Seema Misra, physician Ajita, human rights activist Vrinda Grover, and journalist Anuradha Bhasin visited Shopian and talked to families of the victims and other people, besides meeting the Chief Minister and police officials.
Dr. Uma Chakravarty said: “The evidence of crime still exists and it can be pursued and secured even today, however the case is being systematically covered up and the investigations are deliberately misdirected.”
The team said the post mortem report lying with CID officials contradicted the original one forwarded by doctors to the Chief Medical Officer, Shopian.
Ms. Uma Ramanathan said: “DIG CID, Abdul Gani Mir showed us a copy of the post mortem report in which there is no mention of a floating test being conducted. However, they refused to give us a copy. But the authentic post mortem report has a clear mention of the test which refutes any [theory of] drowning. We wonder how many post mortem reports are being circulated in the security agencies here.”
The team said the doctors were being harassed and the families of the victims were intimidated, which indicated that manipulation was taking place at some point. “It is extremely convenient for the authorities to say that evidence has been fudged. It is just a ploy for not revealing the truth.”
Terming the cash award offer an ‘abdication of responsibilities,’ the team said: “it clearly indicates the government’s lackadaisical, active disinterest and callous approach towards the issue.”
The team would do a ‘case watch’ of the incident. “It is a battle against impunity.”
The members said, “The incident happened in the area close to the police lines, the CRPF camp and habitation.” Yet there was no rigorous questioning of the detained policemen.