J&K: SIA Seeks information on Assassination of Retired Judge Neelkanth Ganjoo in 1989
Image for representational use only. Image Courtesy: PTI
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police’s State Investigation Agency (SIA) has sought information from people related to the assassination of retired Judge Neelkanth Ganjoo more than three decades ago, an official spokesperson said.
The agency, in a communique, has urged people “familiar with the facts or circumstances” of Ganjoo’s killing to come forward and share accounts of events that have “direct or indirect bearing” on the investigation of the case. The agency said they would investigate the case to unearth the larger criminal conspiracy behind Ganjoo’s murder, carried out on November 4, 1989.
The communique added that the “identity of all such persons shall be kept completely hidden and protected, besides all useful and relevant information shall be suitably rewarded.” The agency has also issued a number and an email id for the said information to be sent.
Ganjoo was amongst the first few individuals from the minority Kashmiri Hindu community to have been assassinated by the Muslim insurgents in the region during the outbreak of militancy in the late 1980s. Ganjoo, who had survived a bomb attack at his residence earlier in April 1984, was shot dead by at least three assailants in the busy market area of Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar.
The Judge’s killing was linked to his role in trying Maqbool Bhat, the founder of the militant group National Liberation Front (NLF), who was hanged in Tihar jail on February 11, 1984. Ganjoo had sentenced Bhat on charges which included the killing of Amar Chand, a police official, in August 1968.
The execution of Bhat is considered one of the reasons behind his supporters launching the armed insurgency. His supporters also attempted to thwart his hanging by kidnapping Ravindra Hareshwa Mhatre, India’s Assistant High Commissioner in Birmingham, UK. The 48-year-old diplomat was, however, killed only days ahead of Bhat’s execution.
Authors, who have written about Kashmir’s insurgency, claimed that it was the supporters of Bhat, that had now formed the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and saw him as their icon, who targeted Ganjoo in ‘revenge’. The JKLF outfit, whose head Yasin Malik is also facing terror charges, has been banned by authorities since 2019.
The fresh development in the case has been welcomed by many in the Pandit community. Ganjoo was killed two months after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Tika Lal Taploo was murdered near his residence in September 1989. Many targeted killings followed, as a result of which the Kashmiri Pandit community were forced to migrate from the valley.
Prominent socio-political activist Sanjay Tickoo, who heads the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), however, remains sceptical about the development, arguing that it appears to be a move to politicise the emotions of minority community from the region.
“The authorities should launch parallel investigations in all the assassinations, whether old or new, from both the minority as well as the majority community instead of doing political gimmickry. Also, the onus lies on the kith and the kin of the victims who should come forward,” Tickoo argued.
He added that other cases included the killing of Dr Abdul Ahad Guru, Professor Mushir ul Haq and Moulana Syed Massoodi, who was assassinated by militants at the age of 85 in 1990. Haq was the vice-chancellor of Kashmir University when he was killed in the same year.
“All these cases should be investigated,” he said.
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