Not All Of Shopian Report Mine: Probe Judge

13 July 2009
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Justice (retd) Muzaffar Jan who headed the judicial probe into the rape and murder of two women in Shopian, today created a sensation by saying that the parts of his report which were derogatory to the victims of the crime were not his. Justice Jan said that the controversial sections were part of a separate report prepared by the police investigation team working with him, which had somehow got mixed with his own report. He said he was horrified to find the police report had slipped into the commission’s official report. “I don’t know how it happened. Maybe CDs distributed among mediapersons have clubbed them mistakenly,” Justice Jan told The Indian Express. “I don’t know”. The head of the police investigation team, Senior Superintendent of Police Dr Haseeb Mughal, however, rejected Justice Jan’s claim. Only one report had been prepared, he said. “The police investigation team which was working with Justice Jan forms a part of the commission and is not a separate entity. There cannot be two reports and then a mix up,” SSP Mughal said. The Indian Express had reported on Saturday how Justice Jan’s report - accepted by Jammu and Kashmir Finance and Law Minister Abdul Rahim Rather on Friday - raised more qestions than it answered: the needle of suspicion in the report swung wildly from the “role” of police and security personnel to the victim Neelofar Jan’s “estranged brother”, her husband’s “loose character”, a “rift” in the family, to even the two victims’ behaviour and the “possibility” of one of them “developing some relation with others”. Justice Jan disowned these portions today. “Police had presented this report to me,” he said. “But I rejected it. I did not believe in it. It was untrustworthy and wrong information. So I did not incorporate it in my final report,” he said. His report, Justice Jan said, had been based on the interviews with forty witnesses, whereas the police report was based on interviews with sixty witnesses. SSP Mughal, however, said the police team and Justice Jan had been together in interviewing witnesses. The report, released on Friday, ran into controversy over its observations about the character of the deceased women Neelofar, 22, and Asiya, 17. The report also hinted at a possible role in their death of Shakeel Ahanger, the husband of Neelofar and brother of Asiya. The deceased women, the report said, were “frequent visitors” to the orchard where they went missing. “The purpose of their regular and frequent visit could not be established so far,” it said, adding, “It is quite possible that during these frequent visits to the orchard in the last six-seven months they (the women) must have developed some relation with other persons. Shakeel has come to know about this relation which could have led to the planning and execution of this incident.” About Shakeel Ahanger, the report said: “He (Shakeel) does not carry a good reputation among the society and is being known for his immoral activities.” The Majlis-Mashawarat, a committee of local elders spearheading the protests over the issue in Shopian, reacted strongly, accusing the commission of “pointing fingers wildly in every direction”. The president of the High Court Bar Association, Mian Qayoom, said that commenting on the character of the victims was not among the terms of reference of the commission. “Justice Jan has made accusations about the victims without any evidence or material. He has denigrated the deceased women,” Qayoom said. “The report is wildly speculative.” There has been a total hartal in Shopian town since May 29, when the bodies of the two women were recovered from a stream. The two had been raped and murdered after they went to their orchard, 3 km from their house.