‘Mehbooba Mufti is far from convincing in admitting to the possibility of human rights violations by security forces in only two cases during the 2016 summer agitation in the Valley, denying the deep rooted anger among the public and instead blaming some unspecified forces for orchestrating the street protests after the killing of Burhan Wani as a premeditated and calculated one. This is a twisted way of not only absolving her government of the culpability in the crimes by the men in uniform but also of justifying the use of disproportionate force. Her contention that force was used only in cases where protestors attacked security installations or that the protestors were merely motivated or forced is based on false assumptions that have no evidence to substantiate them. The primary flaw in the argument is that it tends to negate the anger and anguish of the public as well as the disproportionate force against civilian protests. If it existed in 2010, as has been her contention, it does so in far greater measure in 2016, even if there is a possibility or evidence of some forces trying to cash in on the situation and organizing street protests in a way that these went beyond the control of the security forces and the police.
Her contention that her government was not well prepared for the aftermath of Burhan Wani killing which came as a surprise runs at odds with her assumption that the protests were well organized and prepared in advance. That the government with all its paraphernalia was caught unawares is possible but to maintain that some non-state actors were better prepared in organizing the protests, is an open admission of her government’s failure, unless it is her contention that the latter had prior knowledge that Burhan Wani would be killed. If 2010 was about brutal reaction of the security forces and police to that anger, the brutality in 2016 with excessive use of pellet guns has broken all previous records. If the actions of the government perpetuated more anger in 2010, how can the government be absolved of the crime of acting as agent provocateurs in 2016. There cannot be any ifs and buts or comparisons. The actions of the men in uniform in 2016 were unprecedented, lethal, highly disproportionate and gross violation of human rights.
The government should first of all own up moral responsibility for that, acknowledge its failures and be willing for opening investigations in each case, not selected cases as happened in 2010. Needless to point out that even these probes remained inconclusive. Shockingly, the state government has not even been able to convince its alliance partner and the government of India on the dire need for banning pellet guns, which are lethal and have also blinded many people including children. That the CRPF has refused to divulge details about the use of pellet guns and refuted charges of violations in response to an RTI application is a reflection of the brute force of the state with its complete cover of impunity for men in uniform.
While anger in Kashmir stems from the inability of the governments in the state and the Centre to address the political dispute of Kashmir, it is no hidden secret that denial of justice and continuation of human rights abuse perpetuates and exacerbates anger and animosity. With or without anybody trying to channelize it, there is something erroneously wrong with the way the governments conduct themselves with respect to Kashmir with their silences and their brutal actions. A recent report by a track II team headed by former union minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha also endorses this as it talks about absence of a political initiative and also about the need to address human rights violations. Mehbooba Mufti has spoken about dialogue with all sections of society and sought the co-operation of the opposition. This rhetoric of dialogue is ambiguous as long as the Centre remains silent and unwilling to start a political initiative as the state government does not have the mandate to do so. It is not known what kind of dialogue she has in mind. She would have made a better beginning by atleast unconditionally acknowledging the wrongs committed by the security forces and police in 2016 and assured time bound probes in each case of violation with the guarantee that each investigation would be made public. Unfortunately, the chief minister has frittered this opportunity.
News Updated at : Wednesday, January 11, 2017