Thursday, February 22, 2007

Kashmiri was civilian - DNA tests

Kashmiri was civilian - DNA tests
DNA tests have confirmed that a man killed by security forces in a staged gun battle in Indian-administered Kashmir was a civilian, police say.

The body of Abdul Rehman Paddar, a carpenter, was exhumed three weeks ago from a grave in Sumbal near Srinagar.

He had been buried as a Pakistani militant, but protesters said that he was killed in a "fake encounter".

Deputy Inspector General of Police Farooq Ahmed told the BBC that charges against his killers will be filed soon.

'Harsh punishments'

"The DNA samples taken from a body have matched with those of the carpenter's relatives, proving beyond doubt that he was killed in custody and later declared a militant," a police spokesman told the AFP news agency.

Mr Paddar was reportedly detained in the summer capital, Srinagar, in December 2006. He was killed and later described by police as a Pakistani militant.

"Equipped with scientific evidence we will now press for harsh punishments for the policemen involved in Padder's killing," the spokesman said, adding other DNA reports were expected to arrive soon.

The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says that police are investigating four cases of staged killings, involving police, paramilitary personnel and the army.

The senior superintendent of police of Ganderbal district and a deputy superintendent are among seven police officials arrested so far on charges of murder.


The army has ordered a separate inquiry into the involvement of soldiers in the killings.

Mr Paddar, a carpenter from the Kukernag area in southern Kashmir, was allegedly killed by the anti-militancy task force.

His family say he had paid 80,000 rupees (more than $2,000) to a police official - who is now in custody - to get himself a government job.

Instead, it is alleged the police official killed him and claimed a reward for killing a militant.

Our correspondent says that thousands of people have disappeared in Indian-administered Kashmir, many of them after being arrested by the security forces, in the past 18 years.

Their families have been demanding the cases be investigated so that the missing people could at least be declared dead.

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