After Shopian misstep, govt fixes blame, suspends four

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | Agencies | Srinagar | Updated: Jun 24 2009, 05:15am hrs
Heads started rolling on the recommendations of a one-man probe panel into the Shopian rape and murder case with the Jammu and Kashmir Government suspending four policemen, including the then SP.

The fifth person to face action was an official of the Forensic Science Laboratory.

The then superintendent of Police Javed Iqbal, Deputy SP Rohit Basgotra, SHO Shafiq Ahmed and a sub-inspector were suspended on the basis of the Justice (retd) Muzzafar Jan Commission recommendations, sources said.

The judicial commission set up by the J&K government to probe the Shopian rape case submitted its interim report on Sunday, reportedly concluding that the two women were sexually assaulted and murdered.

In its 126-page report, the commission severely criticised the role of the local police, civil administration, medical team and the FSL in the handling and shoddy investigation of the case and recommended suspension of the officials concerned.

On May 29, housewife Neelofar (22) and her sister-in-law 17-year-old Asiya had gone missing after they went to their family orchard, with their bodies subsequently being recovered from Rambiyar stream. The police had initially ruled out rape and murder, terming it a case of death by drowning, leading to massive protests. Four days later, the chief minister ordered a judicial commission in the matter.

The state governments brief to the commission was to find out the causes and circumstances leading to the death of the two women, fix accountability and punishment, recommend remedial measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents, and establish the role of government agencies including police and civil administration.

The report dealt with the causes and circumstances of death over 75 pages, providing an elaborate description of events before and after the women went missing.

The commission criticised the police for not registering a case of murder and rape immediately. The report also questioned the fact that the deputy inspector general of Police, South Kashmir, did not visit Shopian the first three days.

Sources say the commissions terms of reference may be extended to also probe how and by whom was the chief minister misled when he was told that the two women had died by drowning and there was no foul play.

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