Friday, June 12, 2009

Govt knows the culprits

Hilal Ahmad 

Shopian, June 11: Deliberately enshrouded in mystery is the identity of the rapists and murderers of Asiya and Neelofar. This is what the people of Shopian believe. In hushed voices they even point fingers at a particular security agency, but want the police to come out with truth, as they believe police know who the culprits are. Some top civilian officers echo the local people’s beliefs.
Forensic experts have confirmed rape and murder of the victims. Police has registered a case of rape and murder. An eyewitness has deposed before a government appointed judicial commission, saying he saw uniformed men standing guard near a security vehicle on the bridge over Rambi Ara Nallah talking to each other in Hindi. He also saw some uniformed men inside the vehicle, and then he heard cries of women inside it, calling brother and mother for help. The witness was threatened with dire consequences if he didn’t leave the spot.
On the 13th day today, people staged a demonstration, and the victims’ husband and brothers showed to the police officers of the Special Investigation Team the spots in the stream where the bodies of the victims were dumped after the crime.
As police and civilian officials and the Commission of Inquiry remain tightlipped about the suspects, the people reiterated some essential details they believe strongly point toward the involvement of security agencies. For the time being people are only working, by deduction, the involvement of security agencies.
At around 7 PM on May 29 Asiya and Neelofar left their orchard. The distance between the orchard and the Rambi Ara bridge is less than a kilometer. The person who lives adjacent to their orchard saw them taking the shortest path to the bridge through the stream, directly observable from the District Police Lines and CRPF camp across. The path is also noticeable from the Rambi Ara bridge. The CRPF camp has round-the-clock surveillance bunker. Alongside the regular road that leads to the orchard there are several houses located at intervals.
Asiya’s three brothers and a family friend began the search at around 8 PM. They asked the people living in the vicinity about her and Neelofar’s whereabouts. For more than two hours, they scoured every nook of the stream, but found nothing. The CRPF troopers at regular intervals flashed searchlights at them, intriguingly without asking what they were doing. The family informed the police and at around 10.30 PM a police team with searchlights visited the spot. Till 2.30 AM the policemen and the family members vainly search both sides of the stream. Policemen suspend the search and tell the family that they would resume it in the morning. At 5 AM the family members call the police and rush to the spot. During the night they had searched a stretch of the stream on one side of the bridge. But in the morning they began search on the other side. In the meantime the Station House Officer (SHO) arrived and stopped his vehicle on the bridge and pointing at a body lying in the stream told Neelofar’s husband Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar “look there is the dead body.” Shakeel says Neelofar’s right arm was raised and stiff, and on the corner of her lips he found foam.
The family and the police then go downstream, walking nearly one and a half kilometer, and find Asiya’s body on a stone bed in the midstream. The torn kameez on her body is dry on the upper side and wet underneath due to seepage. The spot where Asiya’s body is found is frequented by tractors and trucks that extract boulders from the stream. Police ambulance arrives within no time and a police photographer shoots the images of the outraged girls.
The members of the local Committee formed yesterday to seek justice for the victims on Thursday said:
● The culprits are aware of the terrain. They know that truckers don’t extract boulders on Friday because of the belief that it is haunted by spirits on that day. Normally people extract boulders till 9 PM.
● They are the ones who can abduct girls and ferry them in vehicles during night hours, and then dump their bodies at an opportune moment. The bodies were dumped between 2.30 AM and 5 AM. The killers must have been watching the family and police searching the area because they dumped Neelofar’s body at the spot where the brothers and policemen had searched together for three hours during the night.
● From the beginning the Superintendent of Police, now transferred, was hell-bent on passing the incident off as a case of drowning. 
It was on the insistence of the demonstrating people and a top civilian officer that the second autopsy on the bodies was conducted, which finally established rape and murder. The SP had dismissed the second autopsy as “unnecessary”, a top official wishing anonymity told Greater Kashmir. (On Thursday the people were demanding the SP “should be hanged” during the protest demonstration.)
● The attempts at cover up by the government strengthens our suspicion that police was aware of the rape and murder from the day one. There has not been a case of drowning in the past 15 years in the Nallah. The District Police Line is located on the banks of the Nallah and they were aware of the fact that even a small animal can cross the stream in which they claimed the victims were drowned.

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