SRINAGAR, July 4: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in Kashmir has directed senior police officer Ashkoor Wani and former Inspector General of Police P S Gill to respond to the notices in the case of abduction of six western tourists by gunmen in 1995.
On July 4, 1995, Americans Donald Hutchings and John Childs, as well as Britons Paul Wells and Keith Mangan were kidnapped by the little known Al-Faran militant group while trekking in the Himalayas near Pahalgam, 97 km (60 miles) southeast of Srinagar.
Four days later, Childs escaped. On the same day, the captors abducted German Dirk Hasert and Norwegian Hans Christian Ostroe. Ostroe was found beheaded in August 1995. The others were never found.
“The administrative officer will write fresh reminders to Gill and Wani impressing upon them that in case their personal responses are not received by the Commission by or before the next date, adverse inference in the matter will be drawn against them,” a division bench of the Commission said.
Fixing August 7 for the next hearing of the case, the division bench also warned of coercive orders against Crime Branch officials if they failed to file the probe report by the next date.
Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and International Peoples Tribunal on Human Rights in Kashmir (IPTK) had filed applications before the Commission seeking re-investigation into the case following revelations in a book published recently that the foreign tourists abducted by Al-Faran were allegedly killed on the directions of the security forces.
Journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, whose book “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 – Where the Terror Began” is about the abduction, claim that the four westerners were murdered by a pro-government militia group who worked for security forces.
SHRC had on April 17 issued notices to four police officers, including Gill.
The book claims a pro-government militia leader, Alpha, or Azad Nabi, alias Ghulam Nabi Mir, who used to be in Anantnag area of south Kashmir, had “bought” the four Western hostages from Al-Faran and held them for months before shooting them.