A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has charged a serving Army officer in a 14-year-old custodial disappearance case in Kashmir, where a chemist was allegedly kidnapped and murdered. The SIT constituted by the J&K High Court has also accused the Army officer, who is now a Brigadier, of destroying evidence. It has conveyed to the court that it is awaiting a nod from the Centre to prosecute the Army officer in the case.
In January 2002, the chemist, Manzoor Ahmad Dar, was allegedly picked up by some gunmen from his house in Rawalpora locality. Soon after Dar’s disappearance, his wife, Jana Begum, submitted an application with the Sadder police, alleging that her husband was picked up by men from 35 and 33 Rashtriya Rifles.
While the police initially refused to register a complaint against the Army, a case was filed after protests by locals.
Later in 2002, Jana Begum also filed a writ petition in the High Court that resulted in the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Budgam, holding an inquiry into the case. In her application, Jana claimed that the Army contingent was led by Major Kishor Malhotra. CJM Budgam’s report also said Manzoor Ahmad was picked up by the soldiers of the 35 Rashtriya Rifles.
In 2009, the Supreme Court upheld the high court’s decision directing the accused officer to appear before the SIT.
“After the offence was established against Kishor Malhotra, efforts were put forth to trace the abducted person, but no clue could be found. The custodial disappearance had taken place14 years ago, which clearly indicates that the disappeared person could have died in custody…,” read the status report filed in the high court by the SIT.