Kashmir to probe illegal killings
3 April 2007
Srinagar: The government in Indian-administered Kashmir has set up a commission to probe recent alleged extra-judicial killings by security forces. In February, police said DNA tests confirmed that a supposed Pakistani militant reportedly killed in a gun battle was a local civilian. The body of Abdul Rehman Paddar, a carpenter, was exhumed from a grave in Sumbal near Srinagar. Police are looking into four other reported extra-judicial killings. Human rights groups have for years said that many people the security forces have said were killed after opening fire on them were, in fact, killed in 'fake encounters', in cold blood by the army or police. Protests An order issued by the state's law department on Monday says the commission will look into 'the causes, circumstances and the conspiracy angle' that led to the 'death of some people allegedly in custody or in fake encounters'. It says the commission will fix responsibility for those killings and also make suggestions and recommendations to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future. Retired high court judge, ML Koul, has been appointed to the one-member commission. He has been given three months to submit his findings. The Kashmir valley was rocked by protests in February as police exhumed the bodies of five civilians The killing provoked widespread protests Police said the DNA samples taken from a body matched with those of Mr Paddar's relatives, proving beyond doubt that he was killed in custody after being arrested by other police officers who later said he was a Pakistani militant. Mr Paddar was reportedly detained in the summer capital, Srinagar, in December 2006. Seven policemen have been charged with his murder. His family said he had paid 80,000 rupees (more than $2,000) to a police official to get himself a government job. Instead, it is alleged the police official killed him and claimed a reward for killing a militant. Disappeared Police are also investigating four cases of staged killings, involving police, paramilitary personnel and the army. The army has ordered a separate inquiry into the involvement of soldiers in the killings. Reports say thousands of people have disappeared in Indian- administered Kashmir, many of them after being arrested by the security forces, in the past 18 years. Their families have been demanding the cases be investigated so that the missing people could at least be declared dead.