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J&K High Court Dismisses Petition Seeking Judicial Probe in Handwara Killings

SRINAGAR: J&K High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking judicial probe in civilian killings in security forces firing in border district of Kupwara last month and reposed faith in the investigation conducted by police but allowed the Handwara girl, who is presently under police’s protective custody, to seek compensation for circulation of her video.

The division bench of High Court comprising Justice Ali Mohammad Magray and Justice Tashi Rabstan today heard the petition filed by High Court Bar Association seeking judicial probe in recent civilian killings in security forces firing in Handwara and Kupwara in border district of Kupwara.

Three persons including a 60-year-old woman were killed in army firing in Handwara town of Kupwara district on April 12. The army men had fired on protestors in the town after people were protesting against alleged molestation of a school girl by a soldier.

Two more youth were killed subsequent days in action of security forces in Dragmulla, Handwara and Natnusa, Handwara.

Jammu and Kashmir government ordered a magisterial probe into the civilian killings. However, the High Court Bar Association not satisfied with the probe filed a petition in the High Court seeking the judicial probe.

“There is no reason for this court to suspect that the police/SIT would not do what is required of them under the code of Criminal Procedure to achieve the objectives,” the division bench observed today while hearing the case.

It said even if for the sake of argument, a judicial probe is ordered, any report that may ultimately be made by such judicial authority would not be more than a recommendation. “And such authority for formulation of such recommendation would again be dependent upon the very same police agency.”

The division bench while dismissing the petition observed that they are of the considered view that this is not a case where this court would need to take any action in exercise of its inherent powers, for the State and its functionaries have already taken the required steps envisaged by law.

However, the court allowed the minor girl, whose video gone viral, to seek any compensation in appropriate proceedings.

After the April 12 civilian killings following alleged molestation of the school girl, video of the girl had been circulated in which she had denied the molestation charge by army man and blamed two youth for misbehaviour and inciting people.  The video was apparently shot in police station, where the girl had recorded her statement, and was also later released by army.

Army has denied its role in the recording of video statement of the minor girl, who has been at the centre of the controversy leading to five civilian killings.

“Army only released the video which was already available on various social media and in no way was even remotely concerned with the recording of the video,” Army had told the High Court yesterday.

Army also informed the court that none of its men was involved in the alleged molestation of the said girl.

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