Charges of abduction, murder invoked against the Army officer
The Jammu and Kashmir Police have invoked charges of abduction, murder and disappearance of evidence against a brigadier-level officer of the Army, accused of the custodial death of a chemist from the Rawalpora locality of Srinagar in 2002.
In its status report, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the police has told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court that the investigation into the 14-year-old case had been completed and the Central government nod for prosecution of accused Brigadier Kishore Malhotra was awaited.
Brigadier Malhotra was a Major in the 35 Rashtriya Rifles in 2002 when the incident happened.
The officer was subjected to four days of sustained ‘custodial interrogation’ by the SIT between October 6 and 9 this year, the report accessed by us has further revealed.
On November 23, a single bench of the High Court, while hearing a petition in the case, asked the police to file the latest status report about the investigation by Tuesday and ‘also report that the charge sheet has been filed’.
Manzoor Ahmad Dar, a resident of Rawalpora locality on the outskirts of Srinagar, was arrested by the Army on January 19, 2002. His wife Jana, in her testimonies before the courts, has maintained that an Army contingent led by Kishore Malhotra, then a Major with the 35 Rashtriya Rifles, had raided their house in the dead of the night.
Later, a judicial inquiry by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Budgam, had also ‘substantiated’ that Manzoor was ‘picked up by armed forces personnel of the 35 Rashtriya Riffles during the intervening night of 18/19 January 2002’.
“The custodial disappearance has occurred near about 14 years ago, which clearly indicates that the disappeared person could have died in custody of the 35 RR and accordingly, Section 302 of the RPC (murder) is invoked,” the SIT submitted in its status report, adding that offence under Section 364 (abduction) is already established against the accused Army officer.
“On the direction of the apex court and the High Court of J&K, accused Major Kishore Malhotra, now Brigadier, appeared before the SIT on October 6, 7, 8 and 9, 2015. During custodial questioning, the accused did not admit to the custody of the victim, nor lead to the recovery of the body (of Manzoor). Accordingly, offence under 201 of the RPC is invoked,” it added.
Stating that since direction of the Supreme Court was not to arrest the accused Brigadier during questioning, the SIT has further told the High Court that the “investigation of the case stands closed and charges under Section 364 (abduction), 302 (murder) and 201 (disappearance of evidence) of the RPC invoked.”
It added that the case file along with the records had been sent to the government for accord of sanction to prosecute the accused Brigadier.