N0 end to killing of innocents and other grave HR abuses

Shopian and other parts of the Valley are on boil since the trigger-happy security forces killed four youth in unprovoked and unjustified firing. While bandh, protests and demonstrations are going on in different parts of the region the district town of Shopian continues to be under the curfew for the third consecutive day. In the face of massive protests, the CRPF justified the killings by alleging that those killed were militants; the State police has now come out with a statement that three of those killed were innocent civilians who had not been related to militancy. The family members of the deceased have been asserting that all the four youths brutally killed by the CRPF men are civilians not connected with militancy. It is a clear case of cold-blooded murder for which the killers should not go scot free. Unfortunately the chief minister and his government have been maintaining a criminal silence over the outrage. Instead of removing the CRPF unit from the troubled areas and ordering a high level probe into the incident followed by stern punishment to the guilty, the state government has been simply dragging its feet. The situation in Shopian and Kulgam has worsened with the state police using brutal force to prevent any protest demonstrations by the angry people of the area. The least that is expected is the immediate removal of the CRPF unit from the area, identification of the killers followed by stern punishment.

The manner in which the situation is being dealt with by the state authorities by using more force against the protestors, instead of acting against the guilty, shows that those at the helm have not learnt any lesson from the recent past. These methods have proved counter-productive in the past and their result cannot be different now. Experience of over past two decades shows that the draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), POTA, TADA or the Public Safety Act, which infringe upon the citizens’ fundamental rights and massive deployment of troops can in no way succeed in suppressing the political urges and aspirations of the people. On the contrary these strong-arm methods only contribute in further alienating the people and vitiating the climate. These result in more bloodshed and grave violations of human rights of ordinary citizens. The removal of armed forces from the civilian areas, replacing the para-military forces by the State police, disbanding the Special Operation Group or the Police Task Force, disarming of all Ikhwanis and repealing the draconian laws, apart from strengthening the State Human Rights Commission by bringing all the forces under its purview and providing it necessary infrastructure and teeth are essential to put an end to all kinds of human rights abuses. Besides, there is need to begin fresh and fair probes in all allegations of human rights abuse including this Shopian carnage without succumbing to the temptation of protecting the accused men in uniform by tampering evidence or putting road blocks in the process of litigations going on in the courts, as has been the usual practice. 

This is important for the simple reason that the anger among the masses, stemming not only from an unresolved dispute but also excessive repression through brute power, has already reach unprecedented and venomous levels and provides a conducive ground for the revival of militancy, which the state and the country can ill afford. The anger has paved way for complete despair, lack of confidence even in democratic processes of justice, cynicism, increased suspicion and thus the glamourisation of gun by a section of the society. These are dangerous signals and are likely to push the state further away from normalcy and peace, towards which negligible amount of work has been done by the political leadership in the state and in New Delhi. Besides, they herald the degeneration of the society beyond repair. The need of the time is not arrogance and belligerence, it is sensitivity and a responsive government that believes that guilty men within its apparatus should be held accountable for the loss of lives of ordinary civilians.