No end to HR abuses

Frequent arrests of political leaders and false charges against them

The arrest of JKLF leader Yasin Malik in Srinagar on Saturday on the basis of a farcical charge against him exposes the doublespeak and hypocrisy of the State rulers who while claiming that peace and normalcy has returned to the Valley have been chiding the separatist leaders for not having dialogue with New Delhi for a Kashmir solution. The case instituted against Malik pertained to the popular protest and demonstreations in Kashmir against the cold-blooded murder of noted lawyer and human rights activist Jalil Ahmed Andrabi in 1995. His assassination had sparked off widespread protests in Kashmir with the people spontaneously coming on the streets to condemn the brutal killing of Andrabi and demanding punishment to the culprits. While justice was denied to Andrabi’s family the alleged killer Major Avtar Singh, who was allowed to escape from India, subsequently committed suicide after killing other members of his family. JKLF headed by Yasin Malik had abandoned arms in 1994 and was pursuing peaceful struggle for “ azadi” expressing its willingness for a dialogue with New Delhi and Islamabad for a peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem. 

Clearly the objective of raking up the case of 17 year old protests in Kashmir by Omar-led government is aimed at harassing and victimising and the JKLF leader. This is clearly yet another case of judicial torture of the separatist leaders, who have been also denied their right to organize and address public rallies and peaceful demonstrations. They are arrested and detained under the draconian laws a number of times and even false cases are instituted against them to coerce them to toe the official line. Some of them like Syed Ali Shah Geelani have been unlawfully put under house arrests frequently and for a prolonged period. Their movements are curbed and they are tortured in several ways. A large number of the political activists are still languishing in jails for years without any substantial charges and Public Safety Act is being blatantly misused to deny them freedom. Worse, they are made to face judicial harassment and torture by framing false charges against them. Even after the scrapping of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act the cases framed under this draconian law have not been withdrawn. To further harass the separatist leaders the TADA court is located in Jammu and not in Srinagar. There has been a permanent ban on meetings and demonstrations in Kashmir and people have been denied their basic rights. There has been no end to human rights abuses while not in a single case the action has been taken against the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity. The State Human Rights Commission continues to be a toothless organization with the police, para militaries and armed forces resorting to grave human rights abuses with impunity. 

In such a situation the chief minister’s claim that his government has succeeded in bringing peace and normalcy in the State is as ridiculous as it is ludicrous. It’s peace through intimidation, terror, repression and denial of fundamental rights. Omar’s suggestion to the Hurriet leaders for holding dialogue in such a situation is even more hypocritical. While saying that he was not opposed to dialogue Mirwaiz Omar Farooq has rightly pointed out that for any dialogue to succeed it is important to have a right kind of climate. While there has been no initiative so far by New Delhi to open the channels of dialogue with the separatists in Kashmir both the State and central governments have not taken steps to create a conducive climate for any such dialogue. While people are being denied their basic rights to hold rallies and demonstrations and arrests under the PSA are continuing without any let up there is no move on the part of the state and central governments to scrap the draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act and J&K Public Safety Act. Nothing has been done to release the political detainees and withdraw cases against the separatist leaders. In such a background any talk of dialogue for resolving the crisis appears a big joke. For pursuing any meaningful process of dialogue New Delhi must create the necessary climate.

Poor maintenance of canals delay in de-silting of irrigation channels has led to financial irregularities

Jammu and Kashmir government does not appear to be serious in providing succour to the farmers so far as de-silting of the irrigation canals is concerned on regular basis. It is unfortunate that maintenance and de-silting of canals in both the regions of Kashmir and Jammu is itself a big scandal involving financial irregularities. The farmer continue to demand de-silting of canals on regular intervals so that water carrying capacity of irrigation channels is not affected during the peak cropping season when irrigation water needs of farmers go up compared to lean period. After the conclusion of Kharif season, towards the end of October there is less demand of irrigation water but the irrigation department does not undertake any maintenance operations of the canal network. The department keeps on waiting till the end of March for undertaking de-silting work and very few days are in hand for completion of the maintenance works. End of financial year is followed by high demand for irrigation water for the agriculture fields.

The delay usually results in hue and cry from the farmers because they do not want their crops to suffer during this period. But sadly, this is a story of the farmers on annual basis and the former suffer losses when canal supply is disrupted due to maintenance undertaken at the fag end of the financial year. The delay and few working days lead to bad maintenance of the canal network as a result of which water carrying capacity of the irrigation channels has been reduced compared to the installed capacity when they were commissioned more than a century back. The farmers at the tail-end of the irrigation network have been complaining of shortage of water every year but their complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Instead of owing the blame, irrigation department does not undertake maintenance of the canals due to delayed release of funds for this purpose. This has also been resulting in financial irregularities but several inquiries conducted in the past have been dumped in the corridors of power for the reasons best known to the government.