Jammu and Kashmir high court on Wednesday ordered a CBI probe into the killing of 19 people at Sailan-Surankote in Poonch district 14 years ago.
Six men and 13 women were killed at the house of Hassan Mohammad Sheikh in Sailan village on the intervening night of August 3 and 4 1998. The police filed an FIR stated that the massacre was perpetrated by foreign militants.
But the J&K State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), which conducted the enquiry into the incident, had ruled out the involvement of militants and instead implicated the army and the police in the killings, according to the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), which contested the case on behalf of the victims’ families.
Last year the families of the victims filed a petition for re-investigation in the case before the high court. A status report of by the SHO, Surankote police station said the case was investigated and closed on three occasions.
“It is uncertain if the closure report was ever produced before a court as the relevant documents could not be retrieved from the court or the police offices. The office of the sub-divisional police officer [SDPO], Mendhar, where the file last reached, was gutted in September 2010. It was on this status report that the high court ordered an investigation by the CBI,” JKCCS said.
Welcoming the verdict, JKCCS programme coordinator, Khurram Parvez said the probe order is also an indictment of the J&K police that took no action for 14 years, and in fact sought to scuttle any fair investigations into the massacre.
“Jammu and Kashmir government promoted and awarded the alleged perpetrators of the massacre. Pending the conclusion of the CBI investigation, it is vital that all the persons implicated in the Sailan massacre be immediately suspended from their official positions,” he said.