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J&K fake encounter: 4 cops detained

Source: PTI
January 30, 2007 21:12 IST
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Four policemen were on Tuesday detained in Srinagar for questioning in connection with the sensational killing of a carpenter in a fake encounter even as the exhumation of his body was put off till a team of forensic experts arrived from Chandigarh.

Head Constables Mohammad Ashraf, Krishan Chand and Surinder and Constable Shamim of the Special Operations Group were picked up by the special investigation team probing the killing of Abdul Rehman Paddar at Sumbal in Baramulla district last month, official sources said.

The policemen, who were posted with the SOG at Ganderbal at the time of Paddar's disappearance, were allegedly part of a team that claimed to have killed a Pakistani militant on December 9 last year, the sources said.

Two other policemen, ASI Farooq Ahmed Gudoo and Constable Farooq Ahmed Padder, were earlier arrested for the killing while Ganderbal's Senior Superintendent of Police H S Parihar and Deputy Superintendent of Police Bahadur Ram were removed from active duty pending the completion of the probe.     

Deputy Inspector General of Police (Srinagar-Budgam range) Farooq Ahmad, who is heading the special investigating team, refused to identify the policemen detained on Tuesday.

He said the team was questioning many people, including some policemen, to establish the facts of the case. The exhumation of the body believed to be that of the carpenter is likely to be delayed by two days, Ahmad said.

"We requisitioned a team of experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Chandigarh, which is expected to arrive in Srinagar on Wednesay," he said.

Ahmad said police wanted to ensure fool-proof investigations in the case.

"We do not want a repeat of the Pathribal case. As soon as the forensic experts arrive, we will gather the other members and relatives of the missing person and exhume the body," he said.

Five civilians were killed in a fake gun battle by the army at Pathirbal in Anantnag district in March 2000 following the massacre of Sikhs at Chittisingpora. DNA samples of the civilians, who were dubbed foreign militants by the army, were allegedly fudged by a team of doctors in connivance with some officials.

Ahmad said the grave where Paddar is believed to be buried, in Sumbal area of Baramulla district, has been identified and a static guard established there.

"We established a static guard at the grave so that nobody can tamper with evidence. But we do not want to go public with the exact location of the grave," he said.

Paddar's wife Muneera has expressed apprehensions that the undue delay in the exhumation might be due to efforts to tamper with the body in the grave. "We feel there might be something fishy going to save the culprits. They might change the body in the grave," she said on Monday.

Paddar went missing on December 8 last year and his family lodged a report at Batamaloo police station here. During their investigation, police zeroed in on a sub-inspector and a constable who had taken his mobile phone and given it to a person at Hajan in Baramulla district.

Muneera claimed her husband paid Rs 75,000 to Constable Farooq Ahmad for getting a job in the police force.

On December 8, the policeman met Paddar and asked him to stay with him. Paddar gave Rs 500 to his colleague and told him to return home, and that was the last time he was seen alive, Muneera said.

The SOG at Ganderbal had claimed on December nine last year that foreign militant Abu Hafiz, of Multan in Pakistan, was killed in a gun battle. It also claimed an AK rifle, three magazines, 36 bullets and a grenade were found on him, sources said.

The SOG had claimed a reward of Rs 1.2 lakh for killing the alleged foreign militant.

The face of the dead man was mutilated due to indiscriminate firing and his body will be exhumed to ascertain whether he was the missing carpenter, the sources said.

Besides punitive action against the accused officials under law, the police department is considering to withdraw benefits derived by them due to the operation if they are found guilty, Inspector General of Police S M Sahay said.
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