Right from the time travails began chasing Second Lieutenant Shatrughan Singh Chauhan in 1990, a police station close to Srinagar’s central Lal Chowk filed an FIR against unknown army personnel, accusing them of theft. The complainant, Raja Begum, claimed army men took away two gold rings and Rs 3,000 from her home, after having harassed her daughters during a crackdown at her home in Batamaloo under Shergadi police station area.
Batamaloo, barely two km from the central Lal Chowk, is where Chauhan said the army recovered 147 gold biscuits (weighing 30 kg) in a search operation on April 11, 1990. According to the FIR filed the next day by Begum, wife of Abdul Wahat Matto, the incident took place near the Sufi shrine of Ziyarat Sharief. People of the locality say no such family lives there. Nor does anybody in the area remember a neighbour by the name of Begum’s husband. In the Banpora area of Batamaloo, which is a km from the shrine, a Mattoo family says they have no information about the 26-year-old matter.
Equally curiously, police records are silent on the 1990 incident narrated by Chauhan—more so about any recovery of gold biscuits. (Batamaloo today is a separate police station.) According to senior police personnel, the FIR Begum filed was registered under section 380 of Ranbir Penal Code (Jammu and Kashmir’s equivalent of the IPC). The officials are reluctant to disclose the name of the investigating officer of the case. They say the FIR was closed 14 months later as “untraced”.
“It was a case of simple theft. It was closed on June 8, 1991,” says Deputy Inspector General of Police (Central Kashmir) Ghulam Hassan Bhat. Reason: the army personnel said to be involved in the raid were not found.
A political observer, pleading anonymity, says there was a “strong rumour” in...