19 years later, Kashmir Univ V-C killers walk

20 April 2009
The Hindustan Times
Tarun Upadhyay

Jammu: After a trial that went on for 19 years, all seven accused in the case of the kidnapping and murder of former Kashmir University vice-chancellor Dr Musir-ul-Haq, his personal secretary Abdul Gani Zargar and HMT watch factory general manager H.L. Khera were acquitted on Monday. The accused Abdul Aziz Dar, Ghulam Qadir Mir, Shabir Ahmed Bhat, Mohammd Sadiq Rather, Mustaq Ahmed Khan, Tahir Mir and Mohammad Saleem Zargar, all members of the now defunct Students Liberation Front (SLF) were charged with abduction and murder. The kidnappings took place on April 6, 1990 and the bodies were found on April 10 in two separate places in Srinagar. The case had made news as the then governor, Jagmohan, had firmly refused to release three arrested militants in exchange for the hostages. After the bodies were discovered, he had imposed curfew in Srinagar that had lasted more than two weeks and been lifted only on the intervention of the then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Security forces had subsequently mounted an unprecedented hunt for the militants. The case was handed over to the CBI after the incidents and on 2004, transferred to the Terrorist and Disruptive (Preventive) Activities Act (TADA) court. The presiding officer of the TADA court, Jammu, R.S. Jain, after hearing prosecutor P.S. Bhardwaj argue on behalf of the CBI, observed that Mohammad Zargar's confession was inadmissible as evidence and there were also doubts about the voluntary nature of the confessions of Mushtaq Ahmed and Rather. 'Implicit reliance can't be placed on the confessions without corroboration, which is lacking in the present case, to hold the accused guilty,' the court observed. In an embarrassment to the CBI, it also observed that the prosecution had failed to establish the charge that the accused had hatched a conspiracy to kidnap the V-C to get three of their arrested associates released from jail.