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The Frontier Post, Updated on 3/20/2002 10:07:49 AM

Panchalthan ghost haunts Indians

Mubarik Shah

The Panchalthan ghost has come back to haunt Indian-occupied Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah and the Indian ruse of cross-border terrorism.

For the past several days, Abdullah is being hauled over the coals by the opposition state legislators over the fudging of DNA samples of the five Kashmiris slain near the Panchalthan village of Anantnag by the Indian security forces in March 2000.

The slain Kashmiris were projected by the Indian officialdom as Pakistan-backed foreign mercenaries and the perpetrators of the
Chattisinghpora Sikh massacre of March 20, 2000, the day then US president Bill Clinton arrived in India on a state visit.

The Indian security forces claimed they had killed them in an encounter.

But the Panchalthan villagers vehemently contested their claim.

They said neither the victims were foreign mercenaries nor were they killed in any encounter.

They were innocent local Kashmiris and were murdered in custody by the Indian security forces.

But their version never reached the world as it was blacked out by the Indian media and also ignored by the international networks.

Their doleful story was broken to the world six months later by an Indian novelist-journalist
Pankaj Mishra who was travelling in the Valley when the slaying of these innocent Kashmiris took place.

He was visiting various towns and villages and meeting their residents for a first-hand knowledge of the situation obtaining there.

He spoke in detail about this gory murder in his three-part report on the Kashmir situation, published by Indian newspaper The Hindu in its September 2000 issues and partially carried by The New York Times and The New York Review of Books, to the great chagrin of his compatriots including fellow journalists.

This is what he wrote about this Panchalthan murder: “Three days after the (Chattisinghpora Sikhs’) killing, while Clinton was still in India, a jubilant-looking senior bureaucrat in New Delhi announced a ‘major breakthrough’ on Indian television: the Indian Army and police had just arrested, he said, a man called Wagay, one of the few Muslim residents of Chattisinghpora, who had provided valuable information about the Sikh killings.

Another ‘major breakthrough’ came two days later when five ‘foreign mercenaries’ identified by Wagay as the killers of the Sikhs - guerrillas from Pakistan and Afghanistan - were killed in an ‘encounter’ during a joint Army-police assault on a lone hut on top of a hill in a remote village, not far from Chattisinghpora, called Panchalthan.

“This was what needed to be done after the massacre to appease public outrage in India - the Sikhs had been rioting for three days in Jammu city - and the Army and policemen in Kashmir - men more confident in their ability to manipulate the media after the (Kargil) war last year when false stories about Pakistani brutality and Indian courage had been tirelessly retailed - had known what to do.

“The ‘encounter’ with foreign mercenaries was reported on the front pages of the Delhi papers, and the matter was seen to have ended there.

But soon the government’s story ran into unexpected problems.

There had been no postmortem of the
five men killed in the ‘encounter’ at Panchalthan; the frightened villagers were bullied into quickly burying the badly charred corpses.

But soon afterwards the local villagers came across clothes and personal items near the burial site that had been left burning by the soldiers.

“In just three days after the (Sikh) killings, 17 Muslims had strangely gone missing from the villages around Chattisinghpora.

Three of them had been kidnapped before witnesses by armed men in a red Maruti van that was later discovered to have been one of the seized vehicles parked in the district police station.

The relatives of the one of the missing men heard about the discovery of half-burnt personal items in Panchalthan; he travelled to Panchalthan and found his father’s identity card and ring among the items.

More items were identified, as local villagers came forward to testify that the five men had been fired upon from close range, soaked with kerosene and then set alight.

“The relatives of the five murdered Muslims walked in a procession several miles to the district headquarters to appeal for public exhuming of the bodies.

After a week of protests against the murders, the demonstrations grew larger and then the police fired upon a crowd of 5,000 Muslims.

Nine more men died; among the dead was the son of the five murdered civilians who had travelled first to Panchalthan and made the connection between the missing men and the half-burnt personal items.

“When the bodies were finally exhumed, almost two weeks after the murder, they were discovered to have been badly defaced.

The chopped-off nose and chin of one man - a local shepherd - turned up in another grave.

The body of a local sheep and buffalo trader was headless - the head could not be found - but was identified through the trousers that were intact underneath the army fatigues it had been dressed in.

Another charred corpse - which was of an affluent cloth-retailer from the city of Anantnag, presumably kidnapped and killed because he was, like the other four men, tall and well-built and could be made to resemble, once dead, a ‘foreign mercenary’ - had no bullet marks at all.

Remarkably, for bodies so completely burnt, the army fatigues that they were dressed in were almost brand new.

“The National Conference government in Kashmir reluctantly announced an investigation and DNA identification tests for the bodies, but no one in Kashmir expects anything to come out of it.

Even the DNA test results, which have yet to be announced, cannot be trusted.

Last year, a disinterred corpse was identified by Indian DNA testers as that of the British tourist kidnapped and killed in 1995, along with three other Western tourists, by allegedly a Pakistan-based guerrilla outfit, but DNA tests in England contradicted this”.

Mishra was right in his apprehensions.

When the DNA test results of the slain Kashmiris arrived, these were challenged by experts as having been fudged to implicate the innocent victims in the Chattisinghpora massacre.

Despite their relatives’ persistent demand for action against officials and doctors concerned, Abdullah slept on the matter.

The legislators too kept quiet.

But now that state assembly polls are due in October, the opposition legislators are raking up the issue, not for some altruistic motives but patently for political objectives.

They hope this may perhaps help them win some public sympathy in the poll.

A cornered Abdullah is in a quandary.

Neither can he afford to annoy his masters in Delhi.

He needs their patronage indispensably to steal the polls again.

Nor can he afford to further alienate the already estranged Kashmiris.

So, he is confused: one day he goes public, apologising for his inaction and promising to suspend the officers and doctors responsible for tampering with the DNA tests; the next day, he says no action will be taken against them until a fresh investigation is held.

While this charade of the fraudsters is going on spiritedly, the Kashmiris have shown that they are not the least amused at these antics.

They hold the DNA tests were not needed at all after the relatives of the five victims had identified them conclusively and had also received and buried their exhumed bodies.

In the circumstances, the Panchalthan ghost has returned to do no good to either of the tricksters; it is just nagging Abdullah and taking the veil a bit off the Indian fiction of cross-border terrorism.

In his report, Mishra had noted: “The Indian failure to identify or arrest even a single person connected to the (Sikhs) killings or killers, and the hastiness and brutality of the Indian attempt to stick the blame on ‘foreign mercenaries’ while Clinton was still in India, only lends weight to the Sikh suspicion that the massacre in Chattisinghpora was organised by Indian intelligence agencies in order to influence Clinton, and the large contingent of influential American journalists accompanying him, into a much more sympathetic view of India as a helpless victim of Muslim terrorists from Pakistan and Afghanistan, something that some very hectic Indian diplomacy in the West had previously failed to achieve.” The tragedy is that for making up that Indian diplomacy’s failure, five innocent Kashmiris had to pay the price with their lives.

 

The Times of India, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 06, 2002 2:11:50 AM
Panchalthan case an embarrassment for Farooq

JYOTIRMAYA SHARMA & SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN

NEW DELHI/HYDERABAD: On March 20, 2000, terrorists entered the remote Kashmir village of Chittisinghpora and gunned down 35 Sikhs. US president Bill Clinton was visiting India and the massacre brought the Kashmir issue into sharp international focus.

India accused Pakistan of orchestrating the killing, and Pakistan blamed India. Five days later, on March 25, the Kashmir government announced that five Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists responsible for the massacre had been surrounded and killed in a ferocious encounter in Panchalthan village with the state’s Special Operations Group SOG) and the Army’s Rashtriya Rifles.

Union Home Minister L K Advani, during his visit to Anantnag, congratulated the security forces for “eliminating the butchers responsible for the Chittisinghpora massacre’’.

One day before this encounter supposedly took place, five men from in and around Anantnag had gone missing. Zahoor Dalal, a young cloth merchant, was last seen by neighbours being bundled into a van.

According to district officials, the van had earlier been seized by the police. An officer surreptitiously commandeered it for the abduction, but unknown to him, a vigilant constable noted his action in the station roznamcha.

The same evening, Bashir Ahmad and Mohammad Malik of Halan village — in Anantnag collecting payment for sheepskins they had sold — also went missing. In Brari Angan village, some 25 km from town, uniformed men dragged away two people, both named Juma Khan. They, too, would never be seen again.

As the days went by and the five men never reappeared, their relatives began suspecting foul play. Word spread that the five alleged terrorists killed at Panchalthan were none other than the civilians who had gone missing. An agitation began which culminated in a terrible incident on April 3, when the security forces opened fire on unarmed protestors at a village near Anantnag called Brakpora, killing eight people.

In order to placate public sentiment, Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah finally agreed to exhume the bodies from Panchalthan. This was done on April 6. Despite having been burned beyond recognition, the five families positively identified the bodies on the basis of clothes and other markings. The authorities let them take away the bodies but said any payment of compensation and registration of criminal charges against the policemen and soldiers who had taken part in the ‘encounter’ would have to wait until DNA testing proved conclusively that the five were whom the relatives claimed they were.

Obviously, the J&K government was not prepared to risk genuine DNA testing for fear that the villagers’ allegations might, in fact, turn out to be completely true. By fudging the DNA samples, as the report of the Hyderabad-based Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics makes amply clear, the state authorities have only ensured that the needle of suspicion will continue to point firmly in their direction.

 

The Times of India, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 06, 2002 10:39:03 PM
DNA fudge: Forensic lab stands by report

HYDERABAD/JAMMU: Even as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah sidestepped the issue of fudging the samples of DNA in the Panchalthan (Anantnag) case as reported by this newspaper, director of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, Sayed E Hasnain said he stood by the contents of the report.

The report, quoting official documents, had said that the Jammu and Kashmir government had fudged the DNA samples sent to the Central Forensic Lab to cover up the killing of five innocent civilians in a ‘‘fake’’ encounter at Panchalthan village in Anantnag. Hasnain on Wednesday told the Times News Network, ‘‘The CDFD is an organisation of international repute and our reports are absolutely foolproof.’’

He, however, made it clear that he would not be able to comment on the contents of the report. ‘‘It is a confidential document and its details cannot be disclosed,’’ he said. In Jammu, responding to a query from CPM leader M Yusuf Tarigami, the CM told the state assembly that the state government had sent two sets of DNA samples from the bodies exhumed from Panchaltham forests. He said fresh samples had been sent, but this time to the centre in Kolkata. While one set had been sent to Hyderabad, the second set was sent to a Kolkata laboratory, he said. The report from Kolkata was awaited and the moment it was received, both reports would be tabled in the House.

Though Tarigami alleged that the government was trying to shield the guilty, Abdullah did not contest The Times of India report nor did he explain what steps the state government took after the report from the Hyderabad laboratory was received by the SSP of Anantnag last year.

Meanwhile, leading scientists in Hyderabad were of the opinion that nothing could be said of the results from the tests of samples sent to the Central Forensic Laboratory (CFL), Kolkata, as the results were still awaited from there.

But some scientists expressed doubts that the CFL, being a government institution, could tailor results of tests conducted by it to meet the needs of the government. On the other hand, the CDFD, being an autonomous institution, is under no obligation to subserve anyone’s interests, the scientists said. Some scientists also expressed surprise that the DNA test results from Kolkata were still awaited. ‘‘A DNA test can be conducted within 24 hours if the results are extremely urgent. Otherwise, if the sample is taken from bone or teeth, the process would take six weeks at the most,’’ a senior scientist said.

Meanwhile, senior officials at the CFL in Kolkata remained tightlipped about the case, citing reasons of ‘‘national security’’.

‘‘This is a matter of national security and we cannot reveal any information,’’ said assistant director R Trivedi. She refused to even confirm whether the samples had been received by the laboratory, merely saying that CFL director VK Kashyap, who is scheduled to return to Kolkata on Thursday, ‘‘handles all cases relating to J&K’’.

 

The Times of India, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 06, 2002 2:09:39 AM
J&K fudges DNA samples to cover up killings

HINA KAUSAR ALAM & P BALU

HYDERABAD: The Jammu and Kashmir government fudged DNA samples taken from the relatives of five alleged terrorists killed in a joint police-Army operation in March 2000 to ensure it could not be accused of having murdered innocent civilians in a fake encounter.

At that time, the Centre had said the five were Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, who were responsible for the massacre of Sikh villagers in Chittisinghpura. The bodies were exhumed from Panchalthan, near Anantnag, after widespread protests. However, five families in the Anantnag area identified the charred, decomposed bodies as that of their relatives who had gone missing after the Chittisinghpura incident. But the government said no action would be taken against the security personnel until DNA testing conclusively proved the identity of the five bodies.

DNA samples were collected from the bodies and from eight relatives and sent in April 2000 to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, an autonomous institute under the Union Department of Science and Technology. To ensure the tests would prove negative, officials apparently tampered with the relatives’ DNA samples. However, they did not realise that the DNA test would also be able to expose their attempts at a cover-up.

While the report says the samples of the alleged terrorists do not match with the persons who claimed the deceased were their relatives, it also conclusively points towards a cover-up operation. For more than a year, the J&K government has been sitting over the damning report from Hyderabad.

The results of the DNA tests in case No. 783-78/ADM of Anantnag police station, under CDFD case No. 685 and DNA typing report LS/DNA-FP/2001-645, were forwarded to the senior superintendent of police, Anantnag, on February 26, 2001. However, when contacted by The Times of India, J&K chief secretary denied any knowledge of the DNA report and said as far as he was aware, the J&K government was still waiting to hear from Hyderabad.

In all, the authorities in Anantnag sent 15 samples from the five exhumed bodies along with blood samples of eight persons who were said to be the relatives of the slain persons.

The exhumed bodies were identified as Zahoor Ahmad Dalal of Moominabad, Bashir Ahmad of Halan, Muhammad Yousuf Malik of Halan, Juma Khan s/o Faqir Khan of Brari Angan and Juma Khan s/o Amir Ullah Khan of Brari Angan.

While DNA samples purported to have been collected from the relatives did not match with the DNA isolated from the exhumed bodies, in three cases, the samples of women relatives were found to have come from men, something that is said to have come as a shock to the forensic scientists.

The report, details of which were made available to The Times of India, is unequivocal in saying that samples from females Raja Bano, Nayeema Ara and Rafiqa in fact came from males. It says the sources of exhibits D (Raja Bano’s sample), E (Nayeema Ara's sample) and S (Rafiqa's sample) are male in origin. "Their identity cards show they are females, (but) DNA results show that they are from human males," the report says.

The cover-up strongly suggests the switching of DNA samples was a desperate attempt to disprove the claims of the relatives that the slain men were their relatives and had nothing to do with the Chittisinghpora massacre.

The report makes another interesting observation. It says: "The sources of exhibit E (Nayeema Ara's sample) contains DNA of two individuals. This is the blood sample of the suspected sister of the body exhumed from grave 1. DNA results indicated that the blood sample of the source of exhibit is a mixture of two blood samples."

The report gives rise to doubts about whether any of the samples of the relatives sent by the authorities for DNA testing at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics belonged to the relatives at all.

(With inputs from Times News Network, New Delhi)

 

BBC, Friday, 8 March, 2002, 14:47 GMT
Kashmir massacre samples 'faked'

The government in Indian-controlled Kashmir has acknowledged that DNA samples taken from five men blamed for the masscre of 35 Sikhs two years ago were tampered with.

Samples were taken from the men only after protests in Kashmir by local people who insisted they were innocent of the massacre.

The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah now says it appears that fake samples were sent suggesting "that those responsible had something to hide."

The killing of the 35 Sikhs took place just hours before the then US President Bill Clinton arrived in India and was one of the worst examples of violence in the territory in recent years.

It was highlighted by Delhi to support its accusations that Pakistan sponsors militant attacks in Kashmir.

'Mislabelling'

The state government ordered the samples to be taken from the dead men after protesters in Kashmir demanded an investigation into the affair.

Relatives of the dead men insisted their bodies be exhumed, saying that DNA tests would prove they were not foreign militants as claimed by the security forces.

But the laboratory in southern India to which the men's DNA samples were sent returned them, saying they were mislabelled and showed serious discrepancies.

It is not clear what errors were shown, but the Times of India newspaper said that some samples said to belong to female relatives in fact came from men.

In remarks to the Kashmir legislature on Friday, Mr Abdullah apologised for the injustice done and promised an investigation into the affair headed by a judge.

Mr Abdullah said fresh samples would be taken from the men's bodies.

'Encounter' allegation

At the time, the authorities insisted they were foreign militants from the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen groups - although the groups themselves denied any involvement in the Sikh massacre.

But allegations were made that they were in fact five local men picked up by the security forces and killed in a stage-managed encounter so they could be blamed for the massacre.

The Indian authorities have in the past been accused by human rights groups of summary killings and other abuses in Kashmir - charges the government always denies.

India has faced a militant insurgency in Kashmir since 1989.

Both India and Pakistan claim the territory as theirs.

 


Reuters, 07:46 03-08-02
Indian Kashmir says Sikh massacre samples faked

By Ashok Pahalwan

JAMMU, India, March 8, (Reuters) - The state government of Indian Kashmir admitted on Friday that forensic samples taken in an attempt to confirm the guilt of five young men blamed for a Sikh massacre two years ago were faked.

The killing of 36 Sikhs in remote Chitisingpora village in the violence-racked state of Jammu and Kashmir in March 2000 occurred hours before a visit by U.S. President Bill Clinton to India and drew strong condemnation from him.

Indian newspapers have alleged that soon after the massacre security forces picked up five innocent youths, killed them in a stage-managed gunbattle, burned their bodies and then claimed they were "foreign militants" responsible for the Sikhs' deaths.

The bodies of the five youths were exhumed and forensic samples taken only after massive demonstrations in Kashmir by protesters.

Kashmir state chief minister Farooq Abdullah told the legislature on Friday "it appears fake samples were sent" to laboratories and apologised for "the injustice done to the people for which I feel ashamed."

"We strongly suggest those responsible for collecting and sending the samples had something to hide," he added, promising an investigation into the tampering.

India had identified the five youths blamed for the Sikh killings as belonging to the militant separatist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.

Both groups denied responsibilIty and, with Pakistan, blamed India for the massacre which they said was aimed at discrediting the Kashmiri independence cause during Clinton's visit.

The laboratories to which the samples were sent to establish the youths' identity said they were mislabelled and showed serious discrepancies.

Abdullah said a judge would lead the probe, which would take two months. He also said fresh test samples would be taken under the supervision of police and doctors.

The Times of India, one of the newspapers which investigated reports that the samples had been falsified, accused the state in an editorial on Friday of a "brazen" cover-up.

"From knowingly foisting the charge of terrorism on innocents to eliminating them in a fake encounter...(it) is an example of the worst kind of state high-handedness," it said in an editorial.

More than 33,000 people have been killed since 1989 when Islamic guerrillas seeking either independence or union with neighbouring Pakistan launched a revolt in Kashmir.

Human rights groups have frequently accused Indian security forces of abuses such as summary killings and torture. India has always denied systematic human rights abuses and said that any allegations are investigated and the guilty punished.

 

The Times of India, SATURDAY, MARCH 09, 2002

TODAY'S EDITORIALS
Evidently Wrong

So, the lie has finally been nailed. Thanks to some deft footwork done by the reporters of the Hyderabad edition of this paper, we now know for sure what was long suspected: That the alleged terrorists who struck at the Jammu and Kashmir village of Chittisinghpora on March 20, 2000, were, in fact, innocent civilians. The youths were picked up, killed in a stage-managed encounter and passed off as terrorists responsible for the massacre.

The state police and the army, which eliminated the young men in a joint operation, then proceeded to erase their identities by burning their bodies and hastily burying them. Worse, at a press conference the state government took credit for swiftly solving the mass murder, for which it also earned a pat on the back from the Union home minister. However, it wasn’t long before a demand for exhuming the bodies came from the relatives of the missing youths. The administration’s response to this was to further compound its crime: Another handful died when the police opened fire on a group of unarmed protesters at a village near Anantnag. If all this sounds like horror unlimited, it does not end here. Indeed, the cover-up initiated thereafter is shocking, even by the abysmal standards of official misconduct in J&K. As this paper has highlighted, the state government sought to tamper with evidence by fudging the DNA samples of relatives sent to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics at Hyderabad.

The truly revealing element about the cover-up is not that it was done, but that it was done so crudely. What better proof of the brazen manner of the fabrication than the fact that the blood samples of two female relatives turned out to have belonged to men? There was also contamination within one sample. If this is arrogance, it is obviously born of a belief that the state can treat its citizenry like an idiot child. From knowingly foisting the charge of terrorism on innocents to eliminating them in a fake encounter to tampering with evidence, the Chittisinghpora case is an example of the worst kind of state highhandedness. It was never anybody’s case that the original carnage on March 20 was not an act of terrorism. To the contrary, the attack carried the stamp of a typical terrorist strike. Which is why it is inexplicable that the J&K government should have gone to this incredible extent to create a story that simply wasn’t there. What explains the unholy hurry to nab the alleged terrorists? Was this done in order to expose the ugly face of Pakistan to the rest of the world, in particular the United States? If that was the case, the opposite objective might have been achieved, considering that the evidence was planted.

Indeed, thanks to this ugly show of administrative power, questions are bound to be raised every time the Indian state claims to have acquired proof against Pak-based terrorists. The worst damage has without doubt been done to reputation of the Indian army, in particular to those men who operate in the tinder-box environment of Kashmir. To use them for such devious purposes is to do them a grave disservice.

 

Times of India, March 10, 2002
Kolkata lab says DNA samples were fudged

DHIMAN CHATTOPADHYAY

OLKATA: As early as June 2000, Kolkata's Central Forensic Science Laboratory had told the Jammu and Kashmir government that the DNA samples it received for testing, had "serious discrepancies".

The CFSL had just received the DNA samples of five suspected militants shot dead in an encounter in March, and those of their living relatives.

On Thursday, speaking to The Times of India, CFSL director V K Kashyap said: "We had dashed off a letter to the J&K government immediately after we found that the samples had certain serious discrepancies in both labelling and sampling."

Unless the discrepancies were explained by the J&K authorities, it would be improper for them to submit the final report.

He said the laboratory had sent two reminders. Till date not a single reply had been received. "We finished our investigations in December 2000. The samples were obviously tampered with."

Subsequent tests over the next six months found many more gross irregularities.

"Can you imagine our surprise when we opened a sample labelled as the 'sternum' of a victim, only to find that it was a soft tissue," he said.

"Then, blood samples were said to belong to the mother and daughter of a victim. But not only were the samples taken from a man, but both belonged to the same man," said a senior CFSL official.

The J&K government sent the samples after widespread protests in Anantanag that those killed in the March encounter were not militants but innocent civilians.

In April 2000, blood DNA samples were sent to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad. Soon after, the Kolkata centre received a set, Kashyap confirmed on Thursday.

On Wednesday, The Times of India quoted a report submitted by the Centre in Hyderabad which said the blood samples had been "tampered with".

On the same day, speaking in the state assembly, J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah said "fresh samples" had been sent to the Centre in Kolkata and report was still awaited.

CFSL records show that they indeed did receive samples only once from the Sher-e-Kashmir Medical College in June 2000.

But contrary to Abdullah's claims, no "fresh samples" thereafter had been sent.

Kashyap also brushed aside remarks that the CFSL was "incapable and ill-equipped" to carry out DNA tests of this nature and that as a government organisation, they could be forced to submit doctored reports.

 

The Times of India, SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 2002
Farooq apologises for DNA fudge

AMMU: Chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Friday apologised to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for officials who had presented wrong DNA samples to cover up the killing of five innocent persons.

The case involved the massacre of Sikhs at Chattissinghpura in Anantnag district in March 2000 when then US President Bill Clinton was visiting India. The police in the course of their investigations killed five persons at Panchalthan, near Anantnag, who they said were involved in the massacre.

The police claim was challenged by the families of the five and then DNA samples were sent to Hyderabad and Kolkata for tests in laboratories there. These samples, however, were not of the five persons. The laboratories pointed this out in the course of their analysis, but the Farooq Abdullah government took no action.

The truth about the samples was reported by The Times of India from Hyderabad on Wednesday. The report met with denials from the J&K government. Abdullah also made a statement in the Assembly sidestepping the matter.

Both laboratories, however, came out in open support of The Times of India report and Abdullah was left with no option but to admit that innocents had been killed and a cover-up had been perptrated.

He told the Assembly on Friday that an injustice had been done and a one-man commission would hold an inquiry.

He said that fresh samples would be collected by doctors of the Soura Institute of Medical Science, Srinagar, under the supervision of the IGP, Jammu.

Meanwhile, all those involved in the collection and sending of the ‘‘fake’’ samples would be immediately suspended, dismissed and prosecuted if the inquiry found them guilty of a cover-up.

Retired high court judge G.A. Kuchay will form the commission of inquiry and he will be expected to submit the report within two months. If necessary, a special session of the Assembly would be convened to discuss the report.

He apologised to the House and the people of the state on behalf of his government and said he was ‘‘ashamed’’ that there were agencies that could behave in such a manner. He assured the House and the Press that everything would be done in the interest of justice if it was found that the crime had been committed.

Soon after the Chief Minister’s statement, the Director -General of Police flew to Srinagar and summoned the Anantnag SP to the airport with the relevant files.

Abdullah said that his government was ‘‘seriously disturbed’’ by the report, adding that when the five killings had occurred at Panchalthan, shortly after the massacre by terrorists of 38 Sikhs at Chattisinghpura, ‘‘there had been a strong suspicion of foul play and I myself went to Anantnag to gain first-hand information’’. He had assured the people of Panchalthan that ‘‘justice will be done’’.

 

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