Court rejects closure report in soldier’s murder case in J-K; ordered fresh investigation

A court here has rejected the closure report in a 17-year-old murder case of a soldier in Banihal township of Jammu and Kashmir and expressed dissatisfaction with the police probe, saying it raises serious doubts that efforts were being made to protect someone.

Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Banihal, Manmohan Kumar also directed the Superintendent of Police, Ramban to monitor the investigation in the case and conclude it within a period of three months.

Sepoy Yuvraj Uttam Rao of the 17 Rashtriya Rifles was found dead in the sentry post with several bullet injuries on his chest inside a camp in Banihal along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on May 19, 2006.

“There are discrepancies in the (police) investigation as at one point Investigating Officer (IO) observed that some unknown officials have killed the deceased and simultaneously IO himself has concluded that death might be an act of terrorists.

“However, IO has not collected any evidence that there was any transgression or attack in the army camp on the fateful night. The role of terrorists in the killing is also ruled out as the holes were detected in the roof of the sentry post which seem to have been fired from inside the sentry post instead of outside as the tin shed was opened towards outside,” the court said in its order on Friday.

The court said the probe of the case remained inconclusive for nearly 17 years and the investigating agency observed that someone from inside the camp had committed the offence but they were unable to find out the accused.

“The investigation in the case has reached a dead end without identification of the

offenders…the excuse of the IO that it is not possible to trace or identify the accused is preposterous, as the deceased was not alone in the camp, there were a number of Army personnel along with officers on duty then and there,” the court said.

It said investigations conducted by the IO’s show total reluctance on their part to unravel the truth or lack of modicum knowledge of law needed to investigate an offence like murder.

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“The casualness and callousness of the police is reflected from the fact that they are not able to identify the accused within the four walls of a camp The court is dissatisfied with the manner in which the police were dragging its feet in failing to make proper investigation, raising serious doubts that efforts were being made to protect someone,” the court said.

The court said it is astonished to note that the closure report was kept at Police Station Banihal for six years after the completion of the investigation, as the closure report was prepared in 2016, but presented before court in 2021.

The case demands further investigation in order to do justice, the court said.

“Much time has passed and there is undoubtedly an urgency in the matter now therefore, this court directs that further investigation must be concluded within a period of three months from today and the police report be filed before the court concerned where after the matter shall proceed in accordance with law.” 

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