Issue of human rights abuses will have to be taken in totality

What is being considered as a damage control exercise in the wake of the ruling coalition’s humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha call, the State government has decided to review all the cases of stone-pelting against the youth in Kashmir. According to the minister of state for home affairs, Sajjad Kichlu, the State government will review the cases against the youth who have been booked for stone pelting at various places in the Valley and may release those booked under minor offences under, what he described as general amnesty. “The government has taken a call on this issue after the NationalConference President, Farooq Abdullah, said that the youth booked under stone pelting charges deserve” a hassle free life. “Such window dressing or any cosmetic approach to the issue of human rights abuses is not going to help in putting an end to such abuses and creating a much-needed climate of trust. The minister’s statement that the government will take a lenient view” in genuine cases where the accused deserve to be given a chance to improve their behaviour “falls much short of Farooq’s call for general amnesty for all those booked under such cases. Such half-hearted approach to a problem which has assumed alarming proportion in view of the large-scale arrests of youth in the State on the charge of stone pelting. While the cases against those arrested in 2010 and later are still pending a number of those arrested have still not set free. While all those arrested on stone-pelting charges need to be set free unconditionally and cases withdrawn against them, the issue of human rights abuses need to be addressed in its totality. 

On the government’s admission, the militant violence parameters have come to the minimum level and there has been significant improvement in the security situation. Still there has been no move to reduce the level of troops deployment in the civilian areas. On the contrary there has been increase in the security establishment with the additional deployment of para-military forces and the vase expansion of the State police. If the militancy level has reduced to considerable level then why is it that the authorities concerned have not taken any steps to reduce the deployment of armed forces from the civilian areas and why there is still so much resistance to the demand for revocation of draconian Armed Forces (Special ) Powers Act, and several other similar black laws ? The chief minister, who initially raised the question of partial removal of AFSPA from some areas has since been maintaining meaningful silence on this question. He and his arty have been paying lip service to Article 370 which grants greater degree of autonomy to the State that other states of the Union. In several other parts of the country where there much threat of militancy this draconian law have not been made applicable. The AFSPA can be enforced only in those areas which have been declared as “ disturbed “ under the J&K Disturbed Areas Act, which is a state law. Why does the chief minister and hid government repeal this Act. In that case the AFSPA will automatically ceased to be operative.

Even more draconian is the J&K Public Safety Act ( PSA ) which has been blatantly misused to stifle every voice of dissent and has enabled the state authorities to detain hundreds of persons without trial for years. Why is the State government not scrapping this lawless law. Hundreds of those arrested under PSA or other laws are still languishing in jails for years and cases are pending against several others for years. What prevents the State government to release all the political prisoners and withdraw cases against them, if it is interested to connect with the people and put an end to human rights abuses. Most of the cases of human rights abuses have not been probed and hardly in any case the guilty have been punished. The tall talk of zero tolerance to human rights abuses just remains a myth.