J&K: Panel starts probe into civilian deaths

A govt-appointed panel has begun its probe into civilian deaths in the Kashmir Valley.

Srinagar: A judicial commission appointed by the Jammu and Kashmir government to probe 17 civilian deaths in the Kashmir Valley between June 11 to July 19 this year on Thursday started its process of inquiry.

Secretary to the commission of inquiry Tariq Ahmad Banday issued a public notice, seeking information from persons, groups or organisations having any knowledge about incidents which led to the killing of 17 civilians, beginning with the death of 17-year-old Tufail Ahmad Mattoo after he was allegedly hit by a teargas shell at Rajouri Kadal on June 11.

The notice was issued after modalities for functioning of the two-member commission were finalised by its head Justice (retd) Syed Bashiruddin Ahmad and member Justice (retd) Y P Nargotra during a meeting on Wednesday evening.

" .. By this public notification, all individuals, groups of persons, associations, institutions and organisations having knowledge directly or indirectly of facts and circumstances" related to the incidents can furnish statements in the form of sworn affidavits by or before September 15.

In the event of any person wanting to share any information in confidence with the commission, he or she may contact the secretary to the commission, the notification read. The commission can summon any person who chooses to file an affidavit before it to appear in person for giving evidence.

The commission was appointed by the state government on July 27 on the recommendations of the all-party meeting convened by chief minister Omar Abdullah.

The terms of reference of the commission include to enquire into circumstances leading to deaths by firing or otherwise into the 17 incidents, fixing responsibility wherever excessive force has been used resulting in fatalities, suggest measures to avert recurrence of such incidents in future, recommend the action to be taken against persons or authorities found responsible in any such incident.
However, the notification warned people against giving any false information as the proceedings before the commission are judicial proceedings. "No statement, deposition or evidence be submitted, which is not true and correct, to avoid attraction of criminal proceedings under Section 193 RPC and Section 228 RPC."

The commission will be hearing the evidence in the cases of deaths separately which have taken place in Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla districts.
In order to facilitate appearance of the witnesses, the commission has set up a sub office each in Baramulla and Anantnag towns in addition to the main office here.

Bureau Report