In 2014, when the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah appointed the one-man commission to probe the killing of over 120 civilians in the 2010 Kashmir unrest, no one took the announcement seriously. Instead, political commentators and general public at large saw the commission as another ploy to cover up the killings of the innocent in that summer of intense turmoil.
The decision to set up the Commission was taken by Abdullah during a Cabinet meeting in June 2014 following intense public outcry and particularly at the direction of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to investigate whether the forces had followed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) while dealing with the protesters. More than 120 people were killed in retaliatory action by security forces during the agitation in Kashmir Valley in 2010.
Two years after Omar failed to win a second term to the office, Justice Koul Commission submitted a scathing report to incumbent Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, recommending, among others measures, to avoid deploying the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on the streets during protests to avoid untoward incidents like civilian killings. The Commission also blamed Omar's government for failing to rein in the forces who fired on demonstrators without magisterial orders.
The Justice Koul Commission has recommended a CBI inquiry into the killing of 17-year-old, Tufail Ahmad Mattoo, on 11 June, 2010, whose death triggered the unrest that summer. Tufail was returning from his tuition for medical entrance exams when a teargas canister fired from close range spilled his brain mass on the road. He died instantly. The commission has said in its report that the state government lacked vigil and police were "inactive" in tackling law and order situations.
"During the inquiry proceedings, firing incidents upon the demonstrators by the security forces including the Jammu and Kashmir Police have been found without the orders of magistrates in cases of Abul Aziz Malik, Gulzar Ahmad Wagay, Jehangir Ahmad Zargar , Zahid Nabi and Maqsooda,” the report read while naming some of the victims who were killed in 2010.
Accusing the security forces for using disproportionate force against protesters during the unrest, the report further stated: “The firing upon the demonstrators was without magisterial orders and so it was neither commensurate nor proportionate to deal with the disturbances."
“It has been found that Omar Qayoom had died because of police torture during the custody after he was picked up by police officials near a shop on 20 August, 2010,” the 320-page report added.
The Commission's recommendations were made public a few days ahead of the start of the Winter Session of the state legislature in Jammu where proceedings have been dominated by the summer agitation of last year when close to hundred protesters were killed by forces while dealing with protesters. It was almost similar to 2010 and 2008 unrests.
While the Opposition parties led by Abdullah's National Conference (NC) sought a debate on the 2016 agitation on the first day of the Budget session, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, armed with the findings of Justice Koul Commission, instead trained guns on NC, demanding a debate on 2010 agitation which brought the Valley on the brink of anarchy.
The senseless bickering and blame-game in the House comes at a time when the Valley is yet to come out of the trauma suffered under one of the longest curfews and worst crackdowns on civilian population in recent memory where more than 8,000 people have been put behind bars to restore a semblance of 'normalcy' on the streets.
Instead of discussing ways and means of ensuring that the mistakes committed both by Abdullah and Mehbooba are not repeated in coming days, months or years, the two leading regional parties of the Valley, (National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party) with their cheap theatrics have ensured that there will be no end to the dance of death on the streets of Kashmir.
Updated Date: Jan 09, 2017 12:17 PM