J&K fudges DNA to cover up deadly deed
5 March 2002
The Times of India
HINA KAUSAR ALAM & P BALU
HYDERABAD: The Jammu & Kashmir government fudged crucial DNA samples taken from the relatives of five alleged terrorists who were killed in a police- Army joint operation in March 2000 so as to ensure that it could not be accused of having murdered innocent civilians in a fake encounter.At the time of their killing, the Centre said the five were Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists and had been responsible for the massacre of Sikh villagers in Chittisinghpura during the visit to India of the then US president Bill Clinton.After widespread protests, the bodies were exhumed from Panchalthan village near Anantnag. Five families in the Anantnag area identified the charred and decomposed bodies as being those of their relatives who had gone missing after Chittisinghpura.Despite this, the government said no action would be taken against the security forces until DNA tests conclusively proved the identity of the five bodies.DNA samples were collected from the bodies and from eight relatives and sent in April 2000 to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad, an autonomous institute under the department of science and technology.But just to make sure the tests would come out negative, officials within the administration tampered with the relatives’ DNA samples. But they did not realise that the DNA test would also be able to expose their cover-up attempt.For more than a year, the J&K government has been sitting on the damning report from Hyderabad. The report says the remains of the alleged terrorists do not belong to the families which claim the dead were their kin;however, it also conclusively points towards a cover-up operation.The results of the DNA tests in case no. 783-78-ADM of Anantnag police station, under CDFD case no. 685 and DNA typing report LS-DNA-FP-2001-645, were forwarded to the senior superintendent of police, Anantnag on Feb. 26, 2001. When contacted by The Times of India, the J&K chief secretary denied any knowledge of the DNA report and said as far as he was aware, the Kashmir government was still waiting to hear from Hyderabad.In all, the authorities in Anantnag had sent 15 samples from the five exhumed bodies along with blood samples of eight persons who were said to be relatives of the slain persons.The samples came from the femur bones, liver, skin and muscle taken from the exhumed bodies.The exhumed bodies were identified as those of Zahoor Ahmad Dalal, son of Abdul Gaffar Dalal of Moominabad, Bashir Ahmad, s-o Abdul Aziz Bhat of Halan, Muhammad Yousuf Malik, s-o Abdul Kabir Malik of Halan, Juma Khan, s-o of Faqir Khan of Brari Angan, and Juma Khan, s-o of Amir Ullah Khan of Brari Angan.While DNA samples, purported to have been collected from the relatives did not match with the DNA isolated from the exhumed bodies in three cases, the samples of women relatives were found to have in fact come from men, something that is said to have come as a shock to the forensic scientists.The report is unequivocal in saying that samples from females Raja Bano, Nayeema Ara and Rafiqa in fact came from males. The report says the sources of exhibits D (Raja Bano’s sample), E (Nayeema Ara’s sample) and S (Rafiqa’s sample) are male in origin.“Their identity cards show they are females, (but) DNA results show that they are from human males,’’ the report says. The cover-up strongly suggests the switching of DNA samples was a desperate attempt to disprove the claims of the relatives that the slain men were their relatives and had nothing to do with the Chittisinghpora massacre.