Muzamil Jaleel, Indian Express , January 29, 2007
Probe into missing man, cellphone uncovers Ganderbal cops’ secret: men picked from streets, killed, called militants
SRINAGAR, JANUARY 28: An investigation into a missing man and his cellphone has uncovered a chilling story of three men being picked from the streets by the police, killed and passed off as Pakistani militants. Moving swiftly, the J&K government has already issued orders to “attach” Ganderbal SSP Hansraj Parehar, DSP Bahadur Ram while police have arrested an ASI and a constable in this connection.
Police officials said that a carpenter and two street vendors from a south Kashmir village were killed last year in what Ganderbal police called encounters during joint operations with a CRPF unit and Rashtriya Rifles (RR).
Given the serious nature of the offence, sources said that Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is going to make a suo motu statement in the Assembly tomorrow.
Those killed have been identified as carpenter Abdul Rahman Paddar and street vendors Nazir Ahmad Deka and Ghulam Nabi Wani, all from villages in Kokernag.
J&K DGP Gopal Sharma confirmed to The Indian Express that they have “attached” the SSP and DSP. “I have also ordered a full investigation to bring out all facts of the cases. There will be stern action as per law. We have already arrested an ASI and a constable,” Sharma said, adding that Kashmir range DIG Farooq Ahmad would head investigations into the entire matter.
According to police investigations, Deka was picked up from Lalchowk — he sold used clothes on the pavement — and taken to Wurpash, Ganderbal where he was killed on February 18 last year. He was described a foreign militant. Ganderbal police had claimed that he was killed in a joint operation with Rashtriya Rifles.
Police sources said that Ghulam Nabi Wani from Nowbug, Kokernag, was picked up from outside Biscoe school in the city where he plied a cart. On March 8 last year, he was taken to Hari Gunwan Kangan where he was killed in what Ganderbal police said was a joint operation with the RR. He too was called a foreign militant.
Police learnt of the killings while conducting a routine investigation. On December 14 last year, the parents and wife of 35-year-old Abdul Rahman Paddar, a carpenter from Larnu in Kokernag, approached the Batamalloo police in Srinagar, saying that Paddar been missing ever since he got off a bus at Batamalloo six days ago.
Police said they looked in vain for Paddar. Then his family provided one more detail: Paddar was carrying a cellphone, switched off the day he didn’t return.
Police asked for the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number of the set. The family provided the IMEI number from the cardboard cover of the Nokia set which Paddar had not thrown after purchasing the phone. The police immediately contacted the service providers in the state and asked them to look for the phone.
The breakthrough came when Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) traced the Nokia set. “BSNL informed us that a new SIM card has been put in the Nokia phone. It was easy for us since all SIM cards are registered with the service providers here.”
Police traced the new SIM card to a man in Tangmarg in north Kashmir who told them that he had given his SIM card to a “protected person” Abdul Raheem Wagay of Sumbal who lived in a hotel under police security in the Dalgate area of Srinagar. The police questioned Wagay. “We matched the IMEI number and found it correct. Wagay told us that ASI Farooq Ahmad Gudi who works with the Special Operations Group at Sumbal had given it to him. We didn’t waste time. We picked up ASI Gudi and interrogated him. By now, our other sources too had confirmed that Paddar had been picked up by policemen in plainclothes from Ganderbal district,” a police officer said.
Finally, ASI Gudi spilled the beans. He reportedly told his interrogators that he had taken the Nokia set from Paddar soon after the latter was killed in Vaskura, Ganderbal in December last year. ASI Gudi was part of the Ganderbal police squad. Police also arrested a constable Farooq Ahmad who was from Paddar’s village. After killing Paddar, Ganderbal police had identified him as a Pakistani militant with the codename Abu Hafiz and claimed that the encounter was a joint operation with the CRPF.