A daughter’s vow to see her father’s ‘killer’ jailed
By Vikram Koushal On 19 Jan, 2019 At 02:58 AM | Categorized As Home Slide Show, J&K | With 0 Comments

PCI NEWS: By then the accused Major Malhotra had risen to the rank of a Brigadier in the Indian army.

Bilquees cannot forget how as a 14-year-old child she cried the night of January 18 of 2002, when a man in army uniform took her father away during a raid on their home in Rawalpora.

Manzoor Ahmed Dar, Bilquees’s father was never seen again.

Seventeen years later, despite a series of disappointments in her long legal battle Bilquees displays a steely resolve for getting justice to her father.

She vows to see the man, who she later recongnised as Major Kishore Malhotra, in jail, even as the case of “custodial disappearance” reached a dead end in 2015 when the Supreme Court sent it to defense ministry.

By then the accused Major Malhotra had risen to the rank of a Brigadier in the Indian army. 

The young woman who is now a tax autidor and married, with children to look after, Bilquees remembers the “smirk” on the face of the man telling her and her mother that Dar would be released after a “conversation”.

“But, we knew what a late night raid meant those days,” Bilquees says, adding the same accused army officer had banged at their door the previous night as well asking for Dar.

But the well known chemist in his locality was at his friend’s house that night attending to his friend’s ill wife fresh from a surgery in his neighbourhood.

Bilquees says the next morning her father went to Sadder police station to find out what the matter was.

“He was told at the police station that there was nothing against him,” Bilquees says, little knowing the family’s unending ordeal had begun.

Residents protested Dar’s arrest as the family approached the police station for registering an FIR.

“We were told to wait till January 26 (Republic Day),” says Bilquees.

But there was FIR even on January 27 when the family returned to the police station.

“My family including my grandfather (since dead) understood that they were left on their own. We continued with our protest until the Major appeared before us again,” Dar’s daughter said.

By then, Bilquees recalls the Major’s demeanor had turned more aggressive. 

“Why did you do this tamasha? You will have you repay for it,” she recalls the army officer telling her family.

Their worries were to increase manifold in the coming days when two men from neighboring Barzulla approached the family with information on Dar.

“Both of them had been taken away by the same Major on the very same night along with my father. They were interrogated to the extent that they could barely stand on their knees. Besides, his two business partners were also interrogated by same Major. Their anecdotes verified that something bad had happened to my father,” said Bilquees.   

Finally, when an FIR into Dar’s disappearance was registered on February 3, 2002 the case came into limelight and police investigation started.

As the case took many turns during the course of the investigation later taken up by a special investigation team (SIT) of police, the accused army officer Malhotra was thoroughly interrogated at least on four occasions.  

And then in 2007 as investigations progressed, Bilquees says a man approached her family with an offer to withdraw the case. 

“He dialed a number from his phone and asked me to talk with another man on the other end. He offered me Rs 1 crore to take the case back. He also told me that my father’s grave lied somewhere in Budgam,” Bilquees told Greater Kashmir. 

“It was for the first time that someone was acknowledging that my father had died in custody.”

As Bilquees talked over the phone the call was being recorded. 

The family later persuaded the man to provide the recording of the conservation.

“It was evidence with us. We put the recording before the high court. Unfortunately, man died days after in an accident on Srinagar-Baramulla road,” Bilquees remembers.

The accused army officer Kishore Malhotra was summoned by the high court in 2008 in connection with the case of Dar’s disappearance.

The following year the SIT of police closed the case on grounds that of no evidence was found against the accused army officer, and the court dismissed the case. 

However, Bilquees again approached the HC which ordered a reinvestigation into the case in 2012. 

“In 2013, I remember when I was called inside Badamibagh cantonment (Army headquarters in Srinagar) to identity the Major. There was a group of officers. I scanned their faces only to find the dreaded face of Major Kishore Malhotra,” Bilquees said. 

“He was stunned to find that I recognised him. How could I have forgotten that dreaded face?”

In 2015,  HC passed an order saying “the officer should have been arrested and subjected to custodial interrogation and should have taken investigation ahead to find out circumstances under which Manzoor Ahmed Dar was picked up and whether he was subjected to custodial disappearance.”

But nothing happened.

The following year, Dar’s family and his neighbours held a funeral in absentia for him at Rawalpora which was joined by a good number of people.

It was rare occasion when a funeral was held for a “disappeared” person in Kashmir’s history tumultuous history after the 1990s when the phenomenon of enforced disappearances began in the valley.

“Behind organizing it (the funeral) was to establish that my father was killed in custody. What else could I do when everything had been proved in the case, but still justice was not delivered?” says Bilquees.

“But I want the killer to face the law.”

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