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Kashmir unrest: Mehbooba Mufti govt rules out judicial probe, admits to excesses by security forces

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti may have ruled out setting up of an inquiry commission to probe into the civilian deaths that were reported in the last six months of unrest in Kashmir, but the state government has admitted that the security forces had resorted to excesses while dealing with protests, with the police alleging that the army was involved in the custodial killing of a south Kashmir youth during the protests.

In response to Independent MLA Er Rashid's question about any excesses committed by the security forces, Home Department, which is headed by the chief minister, admitted that at least three incidents of human rights violation have come to its notice.

Khuram Parvez, coordinator of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a human rights organisation, said that the number of incidents of human rights violations are much higher.  "Custodial torture and the resultant deaths are still going on due to the government policy of rewarding for the killings. The Government of India has a policy to reward for killing militants due to which innocent civilians get dubbed as militants and are killed by the security forces,’’ he alleged.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

As per official documents, at least three cases of excesses committed by the security forces are being investigated by the police. Cops have registered murder cases, there is also an allegation of custodial death against the army. According to the police report, armed forces personnel beat up people in the Shar Shali village at Khrew and later abducted Shabir Ahmad Monga and allegedly killed him in custody. A personnel of the RR 50 unit has been charged with murder and a case has been registered at Pampore police station. A case of murder is also under investigation at Karan Nagar police station after the pellet-ridden body of Reyaz Ahmad Shah, a resident of Chattabal, was recovered from the streets on 3 August. Police have alleged that unidentified security personnel were involved in the killing.

As per the Home Department report, Awantipora police is also investigating a complaint over the use of excessive force on the protesters in Kashmir's Lethpora area. As per the government report, during the protests, the Personal Security Officer (PSO) of Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Ramban had fired shots at the protesters, in which two people identified as Farooq Ahmad, a resident of Lethpora, and Suhail Ahmad Wani were killed. The case has been under investigation since 2 August when the matter was reported to the local police station.

Mohammad Zaid, superintendent of police, Awantipora, said that the two cases which have been reported in his jurisdiction were under investigation.  "The case involving the army is being monitored by the high court and we have filed a status report before the court. In the other case, in which the PSO has been charged of murder, is under investigation and we have constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) as the complaint was filed by the ADC that his PSO was fired upon before he responded,’’ he said.

According to a report prepared by the JKCCS in 2016, in the first few days after the encounter of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, 57 civilians were killed in action by government forces mostly "through use of brute force". The JKCCS has documented at least eight such incidents of custodial torture during the agitation from different parts of Kashmir. The report also states that in Srinagar city, government forces have allegedly "used excessive measures to control protests.’’

The JKCCS noted that Hilal Ahmad Parrey of Tengpora succumbed to his injuries on 16 July after he got beaten up by a paramilitary force personnel. On 11 July, Irfan Ahmad Dar, of Kaimoh, Kulgam was severely beaten up by security force personnel when he was trying to save his younger brother who was hit by a bullet. The report also mentions Aqib Ramzan of Lone Mohalla, Khanmoh, who has torture marks on his body, while another youth from Tarzoo, Sopore, was tortured to death by the forces.

Though the government has admitted that 76 people have died in the ongoing agitation in Kashmir, it has not revealed the circumstances under which these deaths took place. As per the JKCCS report, "The scale of human rights violence perpetrated against the people of Jammu and Kashmir alone suggests that the government in Kashmir continue to repress the political aspirations of people with absolute and total violence.’’

Opposition parties, National Conference and Congress, have lashed out at the government over the handling of the situation in Kashmir. While Omar Abdullah described Mufti as politically inexperienced, Congress termed the agitation in Kashmir as mass uprising. Mubarak Gul, former advisor to Omar Abdullah and senior NC leader, said that a general impunity has been granted to the forces in "resorting to repressive measures to deal with Kashmir protests."

"We are seeking a judicial probe so that people know the circumstances under which the deaths took place. We had set up a commission to probe into the killings that took place in 2010 and the present government shouldn’t shy away from appointed a judicial commission,’’ he said.

 


Updated Date: Jan 08, 2017 17:56 PM

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