Inertia on cases of HR abuses

One thing that refuses to change is the complete inertia on cases of human rights abuse. The central government responds to the situation every time the momentum against human rights abuse by security forces gains momentum by setting up groups to survey the situation and formulate reports or announce committees for suitable recommendations to the government for implementation. All of them have been piling up by the year and gathering dust without inspiring anybody at the centre to even do a wee bit in either bringing down the scale of violations or addressing the pending cases for legal justice. As for the legal system, it fails to work, with an eternal inertia that characterizes both the central government and the state government.

The latter, despite all the noises it makes on human rights, is unable to provide at its own level appropriate redressal in the form of legal justice. Though much noise is made against Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which prevents the state’s law keeping agency from prosecuting central security forces personnel accused of crimes against humanity, there is precious little that the state government does against personnel who do not fall under the purview of AFSPA.

The present Congress-National Conference coalition government has been the worst, having allowed the state’s police force to engage in the worst kind of brutalities and making no efforts at all to either rein them or take them to task for their heinous crimes. Denial of justice in cases of human rights abuse by men in uniform does not begin or stop at AFSPA. The pattern of impunity goes beyond that and for exacerbating this process we have the present government to thank for. In 2009 Shopian double rapes and murders, it went out of its way in fudging evidence and then concocting lies by roping in the country’s so called premier investigating agency CBI to save the skin of its accused policemen. In 2010, 130 people mostly youth were killed, majority of them allegedly by policemen from the state cadre. But not even in a single case, an FIR was lodged without court intervention. The handpicked 17 cases, that the government ordered a probe in are yet to be investigated.

While the chief minister has been repeatedly parroting the anti-AFSPA tune over which he may eventually have no powers, only in an obvious bid to play to the gallery, his police force continues to excessively use equally draconian powers granted to them under public safety act to arrest, detain and torture youth and unleash a reign of terror through this process of random crackdowns and massive arrests, where the detainees need not even be charged.

In striking contrast, despite incriminating evidence against many of the cops for killing youth in street protests at point blank range with tear gas shells or their guns, there is a complete refusal to begin a fair process of investigation. The chief minister has been harping about peace and prosperity, cashing in on the misinterpreted calm of the last one year. But peace does not come about without addressing the basic issues of justice. It can only offer short term evasive calm, which is likely to dissipate into yet another rage in times to come. 2010 unrest was a culmination of anger against already existing statistics of human rights abuse including rapes, murders, custodial killings and torture. It was responded to with a much worse backlash of brutalities.

Any logical analysis would demonstrate that this calm cannot be taken for granted, nor can a serious issue like human rights abuse be either disregarded or politicized with selective concern. The government must act, atleast begin with fair investigation of all 130 killings to atleast sound convincing about its intentions on AFSPA.)