#JusticeDenied: It took 12 years to register our complaint

Amnesty International India
2 July 2015 4:33 pm

​Family members said they attempted to register complaints at multiple police stations in Srinagar the day after the incident. Mushtaq Ahmad Dar’s mother said she approached two police stations, the second of which she believed had registered a complaint, although she did not receive a copy of the written record, as required by Indian law. The family of Mushtaq Ahmad Khan likewise said they had registered a complaint the following day.

After two years of inaction by the police, the family of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar filed a writ petition before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 1999, demanding to know his whereabouts, and seeking an enquiry into his disappearance and financial compensation. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court ordered a judicial enquiry on 2 May 2000. The report of the enquiry, completed on 18 July 2000 stated: “Mustaq Ahmad Dar was lifted by 20 Grenadiers of the Army camped at Boatman Colony Bemina on 13 April 1997 and thereafter disappeared.” Based on the findings of the enquiry, the Court ordered police to register a case and investigate Mushtaq Ahmad Dar’s abduction and subsequent disappearance. Despite the order, there is still no record of a case being registered until 2009, more than six years after the court order. The reasons for the delay are unknown.

Mushtaq was the lone breadwinner for his family of six people when he was abducted by the army in 1997
Mushtaq was the lone breadwinner for his family of six people when he was abducted by the army in 1997

Investigations into Mushtaq Ahmad Dar’s disappearance were completed in 2012 and the case forwarded to the Ministry of Defence for grant of sanction to prosecute. The case was being considered by the Ministry of Defence as of March 2013. No decision has yet been issued, to the knowledge of the family or their lawyer.

The family of Mushtaq Ahmad Khan also approached the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and filed a writ petition in 1999. The court ordered a case of kidnapping to be registered on 7 November 2000 at Batamaloo police station in Srinagar. There is no other information available on record. It is unclear whether investigations were pursued in this case, and no conclusion appears to have been reached.

The first obstacle to justice faced by victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir is in having their complaint recorded by the police. The state police have been known in the past to refuses to register complaints, or attempt to reduce the gravity of the allegations. Police and court records pertaining to nearly 100 cases of human rights violations filed by families of victims between 1990 and 2012 showed that the Jammu and Kashmir police often failed to register complaints, or take action on registered complaints until compelled by court orders, or by the findings of a judicially-ordered enquiry.

Families and activists interviewed during the course of Amnesty International India’s research in 2013 said that, in general, access to police stations and ability to register cases against security force personnel has improved since the 1990s, except in the most remote areas. However, they claimed that authorities still fail on the whole to pursue and complete investigations in cases involving security force personnel. Often, as in the past, victims and their families must resort to the courts, or rely on public or political pressure to ensure that complaints are registered and investigations continue.

In the cases of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar and Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, it took the police 12 years to register a complaint and investigate their enforced disappearance.

For more details on this story, watch out for the launch of our upcoming report, “Denied” – Failures in Accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu & Kashmir, due to launch on July 1, 2015.

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