Kashmiris unconvinced by Handwara 'probe': It is denial of justice for them - Firstpost
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Kashmiris unconvinced by Handwara 'probe': It is denial of justice for them


Ten days after Mehbooba Mufti took over as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, security forces allegedly gunned down four people in the northern district of Kupwara, but her predecessor Omar Abdullah was less fortunate. On the second day after he become Chief Minister, Army gunned down a hearing impaired men on 7 January, 2009.

Investigations revealed that Abdul Rashid Rishi, a resident of Veer Saran Pahalgum was killed when he entered camp near the main gate of the Commander 31 sub area residence. Army personnel fired at him, killing him on the spot. Rishi had crossed the boundary wall and entered the camp, before crossing two gates hearing no warnings, when the troops fired upon him, resulting in his death. Following the killing Abdullah too ordered a magisterial inquiry, and army followed up with its own.

No one knows what happened to that inquiry and the probe.

“The word [probe],” sociologist, Ajaz Ahmad Lone, a research scholar in Kashmir University, who collects data on unfinished probes, say “is the most brutalized and overused word by State in Kashmir, even if you go beyond an armed conflict that erupted in early 1990’s.”

The meaning of the word, he says, has lost its relevance in the vocabulary of Kashmir, “because it is a synonym for the denial and delay in justice.”

Four people have been killed in two days, including a woman, who was working in her fields when a stray bullet hit her head. As dead bodies were being lowered in the graves, another probe was ordered in the incident by the state government.

Protests erupted in Handwara, 69 kilometers from Srinagar, after reports of an alleged molestation bid by an Army man in a public toilet surfaced in the town. The claim was later rebuffed by a school girl in a video clip that surfaced in the evening on social media networks. But was immediately removed from video sharing website YouTube. The girl claimed she was not molested; instead, some boys from the town instigated the trouble.

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Protests in Kashmir. Image courtesy: Idrees Mir

Mehboob’s father and former CM of state, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said in the State Legislative Assembly on 8 April, 2015 that there are 35 magisterial and judicial probes underway against security forces for alleged human rights violations in the state.

“As many as 22 magisterial inquiries and 13 judicial inquiries against security force personnel for alleged human rights violations are at different stages of inquiry in the state.”

But advocate Parvez Imroz, a noted human rights defender in Kashmir says weather it is an administrative or judicial probe, around eighty-five percent probes ordered by the government have failed even to come up with a report.

“In the rest of the cases, there have been less indictments, and when you go to the Army with the findings, they categorically deny jurisdiction of civilian courts. If these probes would have done something previously, today people in Kashmir would not have been so apprehensive about this word.” he told Firstpost.

Historian says the first probe in Kashmir valley was order in 1963 when India’s first Prime Jawaharlal Nehru sent his intelligence chief, BN Mullick, to valley to probe the theft of holy relic of Prophet Muhammad from Hazratbal shrine on 27 December 1963.

Fida Hussain, a renowned historian of state says, the theft of the relic had triggered crises in valley and beyond, but the relic was soon recovered and identified. A few days after the incident, the Home Minister in the Central government, Gulzari Lal Nanda, said on the floor of the Parliament that the investigation would take a week to complete and guilty will be punished.

“But the culprit were never brought to justice, since then these probes have served as eyewash when the state wants to divert the attention,” Hussain, told Firstpost.

Image courtesy: Idrees Mir

Clashes between the protesters and security forces in Handwara. Image courtesy: Idrees Mir

In Kashmir the massacre of 35 Sikh at Chittisinghpora in south Kashmir is still fresh in the minds of people. Police killed five “foreign militants,” for the killings, when people contested the claims, the state government took away their DNA samples to ascertain their identity.

The then Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, said that Justice G A Kuchey will hold inquiry into the matter and submit his report within two months and a special session of the legislative assembly would be convened and probe report tabled in the house. Neither was the special session convened, nor were the findings made public.

For the movement, Kashmir is on the boil, again. Mobile service and Internet has been snapped, all the roads leading toward Handwara town have been closed, and anger is seething under the surface, and if the previous instance are any thing to go by, it could well spill beyond the boundaries of this border town and engulf Kashmir.

That is preciously what happened on Wednesday, when clashes erupted in Drugmulla village of north Kashmir’s, 13 kilometers from Handwara town, and Jahangir Ahmad Wani, was killed after being hit by a teargas shell fired by police and paramilitary forces. His killing took the death toll to four, in less than 24 hours, in the frontier district.

The Army has said that it has asked for an early completion of the inquiry, which has already been ordered.

But in Kashmir, people hardly believe that someone would ever be punished for these human rights violations. When the case goes to the court the judge asks the Army if they want to take up the case. Even if it takes up the case and hands out punishment , the Defense Ministry invokes the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

“We will set a precedent this time. You will see justice being dispensed and in less time,” says the spokesperson of People's Democratic Party, Waheed ur Rehman Para.

“No one would be allowed to go scot-free. This government will ensue that if someone has committed a crime, including the Army, we will take the fight for justice to the logical conclusion,” he adds.

At the heart of this is the question of how the new Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, would deal with situation. Mufti has in past been critical of former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for failing to book the culprits behind the killings in Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir government has said they have taken action against a police officer by putting him under suspension.

“Disciplinary action will be taken against erring police officials under the law. One officer namely ASI Mohd Rafiq stands placed under suspension for his alleged negligence of duty and a magisterial inquiry by the under signed into the matter
will be completed within the stipulated time,” an order by Deputy Commissioner Kupwara, Rajiv Ranjan, read.

 

First Published On : Apr 15, 2016 07:44 IST

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