18 November 2017
On 17 November 2017, J&K High Court admitted a petition filed by the family members of the victims of the “Sailan massacre”. The high court petition seeks further investigations in this case after a CBI court in Jammu by its order dated 25 August 2017, accepted the CBI investigations that declared the victim families as being untruthful and sought closure of this case. Notice has been issued to the government and CBI to respond.
On the night of 3/4 August 1998, 19 civilians (13 female/6 male including 11 children) were shot to death at point blank range in their homes in Sailan village by 4 Special Police Officers (SPOs) and personnel of the 9 Para commando battalion (under the control of Major Gaurav Rishi), an elite commando unit of the Indian Army. Jammu and Kashmir police officers, including then Superintendent of Police (Poonch), J.P Singh, are also implicated in the crime and cover up. Following inaction by the police, the families approached the J&K High Court in 2011 and on 21 November 2012 the CBI was directed to re-investigate the case. On 27 August 2015 the CBI filed a closure report before the CBI court.
The order of 25 August 2017 has been challenged as the CBI court ignored material evidence and its decision is arbitrary and findings perverse. The order has resulted in a serious miscarriage of justice. The CBI court accepted the conclusions of the CBI and failed to appreciate the detailed submissions made by the family members of the victims that clearly indict the State forces for the crime and emphasise the need for further investigations that would lead to a chargesheet and a successful prosecution. Three eye-witnesses, all family members of the victims, accuse the 4 SPO’s, and Major Gaurav Rishi, for their involvement in the massacre. Further, the CBI court was made aware of 12 witnesses who have vital evidence that support the case but the CBI court in its order does not even refer to this point.
Since 1998, the families of the victims have waged a struggle for justice before the State Human Rights Commission, J&K High Court, CBI court and now back before the high court.
Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society