By Abdul Majid Zargar
There are now enough grounds to order reinvestigation of 1995 abduction & killing of six foreign tourists following startling revelations by a new book that they were killed by pro-government counter-insurgents fully aided & abetted by the security forces . The book – “The Meadow, Kashmir 1995 – Where the terror began, by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark”, succinctly details the reasons & circumstances leading to the brutal killings of five out of six abducted innocent foreign tourists. The two British Authors, who specialize in investigative journalism and have worked for UK’s “The Sunday Times” and “The Guardian” for nearly 18 years and have been honored with ‘Foreign Correspondents of the Year’ award in 2004 and ‘British Journalists of the Year’ award in 2009, have made painstaking efforts in lifting the veil over many other incidents which happened around that time.
In respect of abduction & Killings of Foreign tourists ,the Govt. was quick to put the blame on AL-Faran militant group, believed to be a front for Harkat-ul-Mujahideen at that time . The motive of militants behind the gory incident was stated to be release of some Hardcore militants under arrest at that time. The concocted story appeared to be plausible & believable which is an essential ingredient of any covert operation. What is more shocking & deplorable is the fact that when a foreign tourist woman, trekking in the area, approached Indian Army to report the abduction of Norwegian tourist Dirk Hasert, she was raped by a Major of Rashtriya Rifles instead of acting on her complaint.
Besides the above spine chilling incident, the book also reveals the nefarious manipulation of Indian intelligence agencies in getting the Mirwaiz of South Kashmir, Qazi Nissar Killed. It also gives details of distribution of money & involvement of renegades in organizing Election 1996. It hardly needs a reminder to know that Former Chief Minster, Dr. Farooq Abdullah was the key player in organizing these renegades who played a havoc with the lives & properties of common people in Kashmir and helped him to regain the lost seat.
It is nobody’s case that the head of the government in India, or people at the helm of affairs, direct their security agencies to perpetuate a cycle of human rights abuse and engage in atrocities and brutalities against their own citizens. But there have been cases where persons working in the larger security apparatus have conducted covert operations to malign the freedom movement of Kashmiris. Dr. Guroos’s abduction & killing is a glaring instance in this regard. The actual story was revealed much later by Wajahat Habibullah, former chief information Commissioner of India in his book “My Kashmir Conflict and the Prospects of Enduring Peace”.
Mass murder of Sikhs at Chittisingpora is another such incident where the needle of suspicion points to the employment of a covert operation to influence the opinion of Bill Clinton, then President of USA visiting India. In fact some Sikh organizations have already demanded a thorough probe into the massacre and there is no reason why that reasonable demand should not be accepted. Even Dr. Farooq Abdullah Union Cabinet Minster, is on record having said that “had he not taken an oath of secrecy-he would have spilled the beans”( See Farooq Abdullah’s address at an annual convention of the Kashmir Sikh Sangat in Jammu on 17th February 2008 ).The statement, itself points to something fishy in the matter.
The security scenario in Kashmir is replete with incidents of accused men in uniform not just escaping prosecution and punishment but instead getting rewarded with honours and promotions. There is enough evidence and statistics to prove that men in uniform but guilty of crimes against humanity do not only get protection from the government but many of them are also rewarded, The Brigadier accused in Pathribal fake encounter case, which is one of the most publicised cases from Kashmir, rose to become a Major General. The General slated to become the next army chief too is accused of having stains on his hands of innocent blood. Colonel Kishore Malhotra of 35 RR involved in custody killing of Manzoor Ahmad Dar is also believed to have been promoted after the episode came to light. The phenomenon only demonstrates the ugly institutionalized mechanism that feeds into a vicious cycle of abuse, encouraging a rising graph of atrocities against the citizens.
It will not be out of place to mention here about a National award bestowed on a renegade on Republic day 2011. Instead of turning a day, whose sanctity is further eroded by such insensitive distribution of honors, into a controversial one and betraying its patronage to violators of human rights, Republic Day should have been an occasion to pledge, in keeping with the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, for investigating fairly allegations of abuse and taking action against men guilty of such crimes.
Whatever be the merits of the case for Kashmir’s freedom movement, it is beyond doubt that the deep sense of alienation among its natives is caused by the dirty political tricks carried out by New-Delhi since 1953 further fuelled by the obnoxious security operations since 1989.Except for a brief period between 1947 to 1953, this state has been ruled by the likes of Mullicks & Hassanwalias. Unwise & immature Governors, like Jagmohan & S.K.Sinha have played their own part in complicating the situations & putting the state on fire at one point of the time or other.
It is, therefore, in the interests of New-Delhi to order high level impartial enquires into various episodes, like those stated above. That way it can address the trust-deficit & alienation of Kashmiri people to some extent. Besides it can avoid being a potential candidate for “crimes against humanity” or war crimes at a later date. The talks for a political solution can follow simultaneously or thereafter.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at firstname.lastname@example.org)