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 DNA evidence of Neelofar and Asiya tampered

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PostSubject: DNA evidence of Neelofar and Asiya tampered   Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:53 am

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Government To Handover Shopian Rape, Murder Case To CBI; Will Seek High Court’s Permission: Rather

ARIF SHAFI WANI/MUDDASIR ALI


Srinagar, Aug 12: Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday decided to handover the Shopian rape and murder case to the Central Bureau of Investigation after seeking permission of the High Court which is monitoring the investigation.
The announcement by the Finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, came after reports about the fudging of vginal swabs of the victims, Aasiya and Neelofar, raped and murdered on May 29, rocked the house with legislators cutting across party lines demanding an independent inquiry. Amid pandemonium over the fudging report, the speaker, Muhammad Akbar Lone, suspended the question hour and allowed discussion over the issue.
“The investigation will be handed over to the CBI,” Rather told the House during the afternoon session. However, he said because the case was being monitored by the High Court, the government had to seek its permission.
“At the next hearing, we will approach the Court for permission. The government will abide by its decision. We have already made it clear that we won’t allow anybody to suppress the case, and the culprits will be punished as per laws. The government has been transparent on the case and has nothing to hide,” he added.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party’s Nizamuddin Bhat insisted that the government should come clean over the report of fudging of swabs.
“We definitely want a fair investigation into this gruesome crime. But the government should first responds to the reports whether the swabs had been fudged,” he said.
At this, the speaker said the Shopian case, which is being probed by the Special Investigation Team of the state police, was under the supervision of High Court.
“Do you doubt the investigation by the SIT or you want an independent probe into the case. Do you trust the investigation by the police?”
In response, another PDP legislator, Rafi Ahmad Mir, said it was for the government to take a decision. “Or let you take a decision,” he told Lone.
“Your viewpoint on the issue is not clear vis-a-vis the suggestions. I recommend that the CBI should probe the case in consultation with the High Court,” the speaker said.
Four police officials, including the former superintendent of police Shopian, Javaid Iqbal Matto, have been arrested for destroying the evidences about the crime.
Earlier, the PDP legislators led by the party president, Mehbooba Mufti, created a ruckus in the House over the reports that the swabs of the victims were fudged. Waving a Delhi-based newspaper, which had carried the report about the fudging, she said the government was trying to suppress the Shopian case and save the culprits.
Quoting excerpts at the CBI-managed Central Forensic Science Laboratory, the newspaper had reported that the DNA profile of tissue cells present in the slides sent by the Jammu and Kashmir police did not match with the samples from the victims’ blood and viscera.
“Put simply, the slides supposed to have been prepared from the vaginal swabs of the victims were drawn from other women,” the report said.
“Pathribal is being repeated today,” Mehbooba shouted. “Produce the killers of Aasiya and Neelofar,” she said, with several PDP members joining in the slogan shouting.
“This (Shopian case) is not an issue of PDP or NC. Such incidents happened during our regime also but we never interfered. Instead, we ensured transparent inquiry. The sequence of developments in the case resembles Pathribal (where five civilians were killed in a fake encounter by security forces who were later given a clean chit),” she said.
Quoting a ruling of the Apex Court, Mehbooba said a person could file an FIR regarding rape even without evidence, but in case of Shopian, the case was only registered following continuous protests and pressure from public.
“The accused are being spared and the victims’ family is harassed. When the government itself is involved in the case, how can one expect a transparent inquiry? We are not after the government, not intend to topple it. But, I want to make it clear that the chief minister’s institution has been degraded,” Mehbooba said.
“It is our collective duty to protect the chastity of women of the state. From the sequence of the events, it seems some police officials at the highest level are involved,” she alleged, adding one Delhi-based television channel tried to project the rape as consensual sex and even went a step further saying that the duo had died due to excitement.
“We know the CBI. Pathribal was the final nail in the coffin of your party’s credibility in ensuring transparent probe into similar cases. This investigation should be separated from the chief minister’s institution. Keep a deadline to unveil the real killers,” Mehbooba demanded, adding that the government should come clean on reported fudging.
“The chastity of our women is being sold. We want a discussion on the serious issue,” PDP legislator, AR Veeri told the House.
The opposition was joined by the members from the treasury benches, including National Conference’s Nazir Ahmad Gurezi, Muhammad Yasin Shah, Mir Saifullah and Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo.
The speaker assured the agitated legislators that the issue would be taken up after the question hour. However, with the members persisting with their demand for discussion, he suspended the question hour and called for a discussion.
Initiating the discussion, Gurezi voiced concern over the alleged fudging of the vaginal swab of the victims and demanded an inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation.
The CPI-M member, MY Tarigami, said that the investigation into the case could not go on without the scientific evidences.
“The SIT has failed to collect more evidence and solve the case. It seems somebody from the JK police, the FSL or the doctors fudged the samples. The SIT needs to reconstruct the sequence of handling the samples,” Tarigami said.
The Jammu and Kashmir police, Tarigami said, was not adequately equipped to conduct the investigation. “The Shopian rape and murder is one of the biggest human tragedies whose truth must come out. The case should be handed over to the CBI which is well equipped to deal with such cases,” he said.
Quoting the Jan Commission report, National Conference’s Mir Saifullah said the police officers under arrest had not only tried to hamper but even sabotage the investigation. “Ironically, the Commission failed to identify the killers. Policemen are involved in the case and surprisingly it is the police which is investigating it,” he said.
NC’s Sajjad Kitchloo demanded the case be handed over to the CBI while independent member, Engineer Abdul Rashid, asked the members not to play politics over the issue.
“We have forgotten Kunanposhpora (where scores of women were raped by the army) and hundreds of other such incidents. You will get big issues for settling political scores,” he said pointing towards PDP legislators.
The BJP’s Chamanlal Gupta demanded free and fair investigation. However, he expressed resentment over the joining of some members from the treasury bench with the opposition on the Shopian issue. At this, Gurezi interrupted Gupta saying Shopian issue was above political ideologies.
Harshdev Singh of National Panthers Party said the entire police department could not be blamed for the follies of some of their officials.
“We have to take care not to demoralize our police force. But given the seriousness of the matter, I don’t have any problem if the case is handed over to CBI or even FBI,” he said.
However, Congress’ Muhammad Sharief Niaz said the House should first ascertain whether the sampling had been fudged.

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