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Friday, December 8, 2023

SC rejects probe plea into Tikalal Taploo’s murder, SIT on Kashmiri Hindus exodus

The Supreme Court (SC) has rejected a petition filed by Ashutosh Taploo who sought an investigation into the killings and forced exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley triggered by Islamist violence. Taploo wanted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the matter.

Ashutosh Taploo’s plea for SIT probe

In a travesty of justice, the apex court refused to even hear the plea. “We are not inclined to hear this plea said a bench of Justices BR Gavai and CT Ravikumar while granting the petitioner, Ashutosh Taploo, liberty to take appropriate recourse of law”, tweeted LawBeat highlighting the court proceedings.

A detailed report by LawBeat notes:

In the petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, among other reliefs, Taploo sought protection, rehabilitation of his family, and investigation/ prosecution of persons who were involved in the killing of his father, who was living in Kashmir valley in their ancestral home till 1989 when due to militancy in the region, a mass genocide took place, resulting into killings of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits.

“Though the FIR has been registered in 1989 regarding the killing of the father of the petitioner the same is lying in the Police Station without any investigation. What could be more Shocking, a travesty of justice and violation of Fundamental right of the petitioner than this”, the plea added.

The petitioner further referred to the Law Commission Report published under Chairperson Justice (Retd.) M. K. Hanjura wherein it was clearly stated that the Jammu & Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Prevention, Protection and Restraint on Distress Sales) Act, 1997 needs to be suitably amended and a complete ban may be imposed on the alienation of property belonging to such class of people (Kashmiri Pandit) by any mode of transfer until further orders.

Against this backdrop, the plea submitted that no firm action has been taken by the government to ensure protection and restoration of property and the progress on the issue is very slow and requires immediate intervention of the Top Court.

The court was further told that the situation in Kashmir is such that even today, although there are changes in circumstances in the territory of Jammu & Kashmir, the petitioner due to fear (which they experienced during the genocide from 1989-1990) cannot move to their ancestral homes more so because they are even not aware as to what has happened to their ancestral home and property…

…The plea also sought to reopen the case while stating that communal harmony is the hallmark of a democracy. “No religion teaches hatred. If in the name of religion, people are killed, that is essentially a slur and blot on the society governed by rule of law,” it stated.

Delhi-based NGO (Non-governmental organization) We the Citizens had been directed by the apex court to approach the central government. The NGO wanted the Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs to be given justice and resettled as well as the perpetrators of the genocide identified. It had asked for the formation of an SIT in this regard.

Roots in Kashmir, an organization working for the Kashmiri Hindu community, had filed a curative petition against the SC’s 2017 order. The order had dismissed the plea asking for an investigation into the mass murders of the community in 1989-90.

The citizens didn’t take kindly to the court’s decision and here are some reactions from the common people.

Who was Tikalal Taploo?

Tikalal Taploo was a 59-year-old BJP leader of the Kashmiri Hindu community who was killed in broad daylight on September 14, 1989. He was known for his love for the country and community. His death anniversary is observed as Martyrdom day.

OpIndia article on the leader says:

Tika Lal Taploo was born in 1930. He did his matriculation from Punjab University in 1945 and completed MALLB from Aligarh Muslim University in 1958. Initially, he was refused admission to the University along with other Kashmiri Pundits. He sat on the protest that led to his admission. After completing his post-graduation in Law, he joined Kashmir Bar Association and continued to fight for justice. In 1971, he got enrolled as an advocate at Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

Tika Lal Taploo was a long time member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In 1975, while India was under an emergency announced by the Congress-led government under then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Taploo participated in agitations against the government. Lok Sangagh Samiti, under the leadership of Jaya Prakash Narayan, had called for agitations across the country. Tika Lal participated in the agitation at Lal Chowk in Srinagar along with other colleagues.

He and his two associates Madan Lal Khashu and Shiban Ji Pandita were arrested by the police. Reports suggest he had to face police atrocities and was handcuffed while being taken for producing before the Magistrate. Taploo and his colleagues were dragged through markets while being taken to court. The torture he had to face led to protests by the advocates. He had remained in jail for months and was later released honourably.

Days before his murder, he took his family to Delhi and left them there to ensure their safety. On September 8, 1989, he returned to the valley. Just four days later, he was attacked at his residence in Chinkral Mohalla on September 12, 1989. He escaped the attack unhurt.

On a fateful day, Lalaji was heading to the High Court when he noticed a crying little girl of a Muslim neighbour. Upon enquiry, he found out that the child was crying for some stationery. He handed over a Rs 5 bill with a broad smile and left for work. He barely walked a few meters when three men with covered faces confronted him.

One of them approached Taploo, took out his weapon, and before anyone around could react, Taploo was shot dead. They fired eight rounds non-stop. The news of his death spread like wildfire, and the entire nation was in shock.

He was survived by his wife Sarla Taploo, who was a school teacher. Later, she also joined BJP and contested the Assembly election in the valley. Sarla passed away on December 30, 2021, 32 years after the murder of her husband.

Reports indicate that his murder was well-planned and the terrorists had familiarized themselves with his routine. Javed Ahmed Mir alias Javed Nalka is said to be the one behind Taploo’s murder. Nalka killed Taploo as a retaliation for the latter’s efforts to send bricks and raise funds for a grand Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

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