Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam

On 17 August 1990, 23 year-old Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam was returning to his home in Nowhatta, in downtown Srinagar after praying at a nearby mosque, when he was shot by a CRPF constable.

– According to eyewitnesses.

Investigations conducted by the security forces have in some cases denied truth and justice to victims of human rights violations, and served to shield perpetrators of human rights violations from prosecution. In cases documented by Amnesty International India and other groups, the findings of army and other security force enquiries have contradicted the findings of police investigations, leading to dismissal of charges against personnel against whom there is credible evidence established by independent investigations.

On 17 August 1990, 23 year-old Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam was returning to his home in Nowhatta, in downtown Srinagar after praying at a nearby mosque, when he was shot by a CRPF constable, according to eyewitnesses.

The family filed a First Information Report at the police station the very next day. Riyaz Ahmad Hajam, Mushtaq’s brother, said that they heard nothing from the police for three years. In 1993, Riyaz says the police from the local station came to his house and told him and his father that the police had filed the case. The family did not ask questions.

In 1991, CRPF investigations into the alleged extrajudicial killing of Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam absolved the accused constable of criminal responsibility for Hajam’s death, stating that he had fired in “self-defence.” The CRPF’s findings appear to be based entirely on the testimony of CRPF personnel.

Meanwhile, criminal investigations conducted by J&K state police led to them filing charges of murder based on civilian witness testimony against the CRPF constable. The J&K state government forwarded the case to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi for permission to prosecute under section 7 of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act in 1996.

In September 1996, the CRPF again instituted a Court of Inquiry into the incident, and again cleared the Constable of all charges. Riyaz said that in 1996, representatives from the CRPF had come to their house and summoned Riyaz to their camp at Barzulla in Srinagar. When he arrived there, the CRPF told him to sign a blank piece of paper and narrate the story of the incident. Although Riyaz was not present at the time of his brother’s death, he relied on what he had been told by neighbours and the local police. He was the only civilian who testified at the second CRPF Court of Inquiry. The Court of Inquiry did not establish charges against the Constable, stating that all CRPF personnel are trained to take suitable action if a person did not halt on being ordered to.

The police case diary reproduces the text of the judgment issued by the Court of Inquiry, which states, “As Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam hastened his movements on being ordered to stop, the constable was “left with no other alternative but to fire. Considering the situation that prevailed in J&K during that period, the Constable cannot be blamed. He was discharging his bonafide duties when the curfew was clamped and it has to be enforced. The very fact that he fired only one round shows that his response was not excessive and that there was no over-reaction on his part.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs also denied sanction to prosecute this case in civilian courts on 14 September 2000. Its reason for denial are virtually identical to the findings of the CRPF Court of Inquiry. It states that, “the constable was carrying out his patrolling duties when he found Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam moving in suspicious circumstances. On being challenged Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam hastened his movements in the darkness. The [constable] fired one round at Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam and he died.”

To date, the police have failed to inform Riyaz about the status of his case. He assumes that the case has been closed.

THE PETITION

Fifteen Kashmiri families who lost their loved ones in cases of human rights violations by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are urging the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defense to ensure the right to truth for victims, their families and affected communities and ensure that they have access to full disclosure about human rights violations. The families want both the ministries to:

1. Make informartion available related to all 15 cases highlighted by Amnesty International India on this digital platform.

2. Make information pertaining to the proceedings, verdicts and sentences of courts-martial and security force courts publicly accessible including through the Right to Information Act, 2005 and by other means including an online database

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