A Complete shutdown is being observed in Shopian to mark the 8th anniversary of the incident.
Two women Neelofar Jan, age 22, wife of Shakeel Ahmed Ahangar and mother of two-year-old son Suzzane, Asiya Jan, age 17, daughter of Abdul Gani Ahangar who were sisters-in-law went missing under mysterious circumstances between 29 and 30 may on the way home from their orchard in the Shopian region of the Kashmir valley. Aasiya was a distinction holder in her matriculation exams in the previous year and was a pre-medical student of New Greenland Higher Senior Secondary School in Alialpora, Shopian. Neelofar was Aasiya’s sister-in-law and both were residents of Bongam in Shopian area.
Little more than 12 hours later their battered bodies were found in the stream one kilometer apart. Asiya had been badly beaten. Blood streamed from her nose and a sharp gash in her forehead. She and sister-in-law, Neelofar, had been allegedly gang raped before their deaths.
The death of sisters-in-law, Asiya and Neelofar, had triggered widespread protests across the Kashmir valley in 2009 and Shopian area witnessed consecutive shutdown for 49 days.
"How can we forget their deaths? That is a scar which will never stop bleeding, we cannot forget the sad day. Kashmir can never forget Aasiya and Neelofar" A local said sitting under a tree shade in the Shopian town which is observing a complete shutdown to mark the 8th death anniversary of the incident.
Most of the people, eyewitnesses including villagers allege that the women were raped and murdered by the government forces, however the charges were denied by then Omar Abdullah-led state government. The government termed it a case of drowning but following public outcry, the government ordered a judicial inquiry while as the police also constituted Special Investigating Team (SIT) who in their reports did not rule out the rape and murder. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) concluded that the women had died due to drowning when the case was handed over to them.
Fact Finding Report By The Independent Women's Initiative for Justice
"Shakeel learnt that Neelofar and Asiya had not returned home. These are trying times in Kashmir, and there is much cause for concern when people do not return home before dark. Shakeel began his search with friends and family. As night set in, Shakeel sought the help of the police and together they scoured the countryside.
The way to the orchard is crowded with the security forces - the District Police Lines, an army outpost and a CRPF camp, with night lights. The Rambi Ara Nallah that runs through is clearly visible to the lookouts in the CRPF camp, under the glare of the search lights. Before the Justice Jan Commission, the night guards, stated they had seen the search party, but conveniently noticed nothing for the rest of the night, and had no explanation for the mysterious appearance of the bodies.
The police called off the search at 2.30 a.m. promising to restart at the crack of dawn. Around 5.30 a.m. Shakeel resumed the search. An hour later the local police joined and almost immediately the SHO Shafeeq Ahmed pointed out the spot where Neelofar's body was found. Neelofar's body was found at a shallow spot which is located about 100 mtrs upstream from Zavora bridge over the Rambi Ara Nallah. It was observed by Justice Jan in the First Spot Inspection that the depth of the stream around the spot would be 2 -2.5 feet, with reasonably fast flowing water, but certainly not strong current to drown an adult girl. It is pertinent to note that this exact spot had been thoroughly searched by the family and police till 2:30a.m.
Asiya's body was found further downstream, 11/2 km from the army camp. The exact spot is 11/2 km down stream from Zavora bridge. The dead body was found at an elevated dry spot in the stream
Those who helped retrieve the bodies of the two women saw enough to suspect that this was a case of rape and murder. The photographs taken of the bodies as they were recovered from the Nallah showed visible signs of injuries and wounds"