Srinagar: The statement made by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 15th Corps, Lt. Gen. Om Prakash, about the tragic death of a youth from Aloosa village of Bandipora, giving a clean chit to his soldiers, speaks volumes about the arrogance and insensitivity of the army in Kashmir, where human life has lost all the value and worth that it otherwise deserved.
In a case that is surrounded by mysteries, where police had completely ruled out the involvement of the slain youth in any kind of militancy revolved activity, where eyewitness accounts accuse the soldiers of having picked up the youth while on his way to a nearby mosque and subsequently gunning him down, the GOC wants us to believe the same old story that we have been listening to for decades now and that at the end proves to be false and fictitious.
The slain youth was part of a group of armed militants, who when challenged, opened fire on soldiers, then suddenly melted in the air, leaving poor Hilal behind, to be gunned down in the darkness. Having taken over recently his present assignment, Gen Om Prakash, seems to be unaware that such stories have all along been repeated by the army in Kashmir with just names of the victims and places being changed and there are no takers for such falsehoods and one does not waste his time in commenting upon such frivolous statements. This happened in Pathribal when innocent civilians were roasted alive and the ‘gallant’ soldiers were complimented from all quarters, from Farooq Abdullah to L K Advani. But soon the tall claims of killing ‘foreign mercenaries and killers of Chattisingpora Sikhs’ proved to be part of a well drafted fiction with the CBI pleading before the Supreme Court for exemplary punishment to the killers in uniform.
Very recently the story of armed militants killed in encounter was again repeated in Machil when three local youth were virtually ‘purchased’ by the ‘vigilant’ soldiers for ‘sacrifice’ at the altar of militancy only to fetch out of turn promotions and cash rewards besides gallantry awards for securing the borders of Mother India and defeating Pakistan’s plans for annexing Kashmir. But the truth came out soon and it was found that the three ‘militants’ killed in encounter were in fact innocent village youth who were taken to Machil on the promise of getting appointed as porters with the Army.
In the case of Aloosa youth, facts speak entirely different from what the GOC wants us to believe. A poor security guard with a Srinagar based private company, getting few days off in a month to visit his family was apprehended while on way to a nearby mosque reportedly subjected to physical torture and later shot dead. That is was the villagers say denying Army’s charge of Hilal being a militant. Also, those who saw the body of Hilal vow that there were marks of torture on his body. This claim is also substantiated by the photographs taken after Hilal’s death.
GOC, as head of the soldiers stationed in the valley, has every right to defend his boys but every right has to be exercised within a reasonable limit. And that is what the General is not doing and instead trying hush up what otherwise is a case of cold blooded murder. The General’s defence is in fact punctured by the statement made by the police about the non-involvement of Hilal in militancy related incidents and the subsequent developments further expose the fiction that the soldiers are using to escape responsibility.
We know nothing is going to happen even if the story woven by the Army to cover its guilt is dismissed by the highest quarters as a piece of trash. No one will be booked, none punished, and instead those guilty will get promotions and choice postings. We have seen that in case of Jalil Andrabi, Pathribal, Machil, just to name few. We know soldiers in Kashmir have AFSPA cover that covers all their acts be those completely erroneous and in gross contravention of the law of the land. But one, at least expected from the General(s), to at least be humane whenever such incident and refrain from exhibiting the sort of arrogance and insensitiveness that has been shown in case of Hilal’s tragic death.