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None of the probes ordered by present PDP-BJP government into civilian killings by forces have resulted in punishment to accused soldiers  

Like previous year, the cycle of innocent civilian killings continues in Kashmir Valley. The first month of the current year has consumed 10 innocent civilians. In 2015, at least 41 civilians were killed while the number drastically touched to 126 in 2016, the year, when Kashmir Valley witnessed violent uprising after the killing of popular Hizb commander Burhan Wani.

Last year, 81 civilians fall prey to the bullets in Valley. With the onset of 2018, one was hopeful that civilian killings may stop, but in January this year, 10 civilians lost their life and most of them fall prey to the bullets of government forces personnel. The first civilian from Kashmir this year was put to death by unidentified gunmen when they shot dead Arif Ahmed Sofi in Herwan village of Sopore town in North Kashmir. Three more budding youth from South Kashmir namely, Shakir Ahmed Mir of Qalampora Rajpora Pulwama, Javaid Bhat of Balpora Shopian and Suhail Javaid Lone of Ganowpora Shopain were shot dead by forces. This year also, some innocent civilians including young girls were critically wounded while some of them are still battling for life. After every civilian killing, a probe is being ordered which never gets completed and is never made public. People here know in advance the outcome of the probe. Condemnations pour from even pro-India parties after civilian killings. Some parties use civilians while other support army to advance their political agenda.

Inside the state Assembly, BJP justified army action in Ganowpora village while opposition parties including National Conference and Congress not only condemned these killings but also demanded action against the guilty. Even, ruling PDP led by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on the floor of the House displayed anguish over these killings. She went on to extent saying that FIR lodged against army will be taken to its logical conclusion. She said there are some black sheep in the Army as well. Omar Abdullah appealed politicians not to play politics over the dead bodies. While some ruling party members including Muhammad Ashraf Mir appealed to government to take action and don’t give escape route to the guilty army soldiers. One interesting fact is that common people and the mainstream politicians never remain on the same page. When on the floor of the House, politicians were condemning army action, netizens on social networking sites were making fun at them. “We know the outcome of the probe. We also know probe is ordered to hoodwink people and we even know that Jammu and Kashmir government can’t touch the collar of an ordinary soldier,” wrote a netizen on facebook clearly showing that people have lost faith in government probes. Another netizen wrote that after an FIR, the accused is being questioned and arrested, but FIR lodged against army is of different nature. Accused army soldiers are not being questioned, let alone arresting him. A human rights activist claimed that from 1990 till date, over 35,000 FIR’s stand registered against government forces personnel belonging to Army, BSF, CRPF, Territorial Army, CISF and others. But so far no arrests have been made. “The cases against men in uniform particularly against soldiers are either been closed or ignored because Ministry for Home Affairs Government of India doesn’t allow Jammu and Kashmir government to prosecute these forces personnel. In recent Shopian killing police yet again named 10 Gharwal soldiers in the FIR killed two budding youth, but still no arrests have been made,” the HR activist said.

He said that registration of FIR against Army for Shopian carnage is mere an eyewash while the probe ordered will never be completed and guilty never be punished. “Even, culprits responsible for Machil fake encounter were released.” Another activist said that in the rarest of rare cases, a BSF commandant Bridi and head constable were arrested by police in the killing of Nishat youth Zahid Farooq, but both the accused were later on handed over to BSF. “It is a useless process to register FIR against government forces personnel as state police lacks power to prosecute them. So, to pinning hope on the justice system here is a futile exercise,” he maintained. The civilian killings according to a politician will continue till action is not initiated against the guilty soldiers. “Once you award stringent punishment to soldiers, others will take lessons and will think thousands time before aiming at a civilian,” he said. “Soldiers knew they are at will to operate and even their seniors can’t take them to task. If reports are to be believed, after every killing, seniors usually try to shiled their juniors. This fact emerged after the killing of two Nowgam youth at Chattargam. Senior army officers left no stone unturned in persuading a family to accept the compensation.  Another glaring example is Major Gogoi who was encouraged, hailed and awarded for making a civilian Farooq Dar human shield. Dozens of videos that have been surfacing on the social media show how army soldiers are being hailed for bashing and thrashing innocent Kashmiri civilians.”

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is correct when she says every untoward incident including thrashing and killing of civilians derails political process in Kashmir. If Government of India is sincere and serious in restoring normalcy in Valley, then it must identify and award punishment to those soldiers who think they are above law. In 2016, while speaking in the Assembly the chief minister had assured that a time bound probe will be initiated into the killing of a lecturer from Khrew area of south Kashmir by army and killing of an ATM guard by CRPF forces in Srinagar. On the night of August 17, 2016, a Lecturer from Shar, Khrew, Shabir Ahmad Mangoo, was dragged from his home by Army. Next day, his brutally lynched body returned home. Despite murder case registered against the accused soldiers, no action has been taken against them. Similarly on the night of August 2, an ATM guard was killed on way to his home and his body was found thrown at the gate of Government Medical College, Srinagar. Despite murder cases being registered and inquires being ordered by Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti in all these cases, the perpetrators are yet to be punished.

Tag: Human Rights

Blurbs: The first month of the current year has consumed 10 innocent civilians. In 2015, at least 41 civilians were killed while the number drastically touched to 126 in 2016, the year, when Kashmir Valley witnessed violent uprising after the killing of popular Hizb commander Burhan Wani

Inside the state Assembly, BJP justified army action in Ganowpora village while opposition parties including National Conference and Congress not only condemned these killings but also demanded action against the guilty. Even, ruling PDP led by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on the floor of the House displayed anguish over these killings

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is correct when she says every untoward incident including thrashing and killing of civilians derails political process in Kashmir. If Government of India is sincere and serious in restoring normalcy in Valley, then it must identify and award punishment to those soldiers who think they are above law