Srinagar, Nov. 17: The two key witnesses in the Shopian rape-and-murder case have retracted their statements implicating the security forces, saying they had been forced to make the false statements by lawyers of the district bar association.
The Shopian District Bar Association that was at the forefront of the protests in summer has dismissed the witnesses allegation as tutored by the CBI, which is now investigating the case.
Ghulam Mohiuddin Lone and Abdul Rashid Pampori had said in June that they had heard the cries of the two victims, Neelofar and her sister-in-law Asiya, from a police vehicle near the spot where their bodies were later found.
Their statements were recorded afresh after the CBI took up the investigation in September. Since then, there have been several twists to the case.
Fresh forensic reports have reportedly suggested that the vaginal swabs that had proved rape do not match the womens DNA samples, raising suspicion of tampering by local doctors.
Lone and Pampori have now told a Shopian court that they were forced by the lawyers to make their earlier statements.
M.Y. Bhat, president of the Shopian bar association, said the witnesses latest allegation was baseless and questioned the procedural correctness of the re-recording of their statements.
This is the first time in judicial history that witnesses have been re-examined after their statements were recorded under Section 164A of the Criminal Procedure Code, he said, adding the lawyers may approach the high court.