Wednesday, June 24, 2009

‘Pain will ease only when culprits are hanged’

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir by Shabir Ali

Shopian, June 24: Terming the suspension of five government officials as mere eyewash, brother of teenage Asiya and husband of Neelofar, Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar Wednesday said that his pain will ease only after culprits are hanged.
The pain of loosing dear ones in such a brutal way can only be felt by those possessing the human heart. The suspension or arrest of the culprits and those who tried to shield them cannot ease my pain but seeing all of them hanged before my eyes can give me a bit of relief," said Ahanger. He said that suspension of the officials who destroyed the evidence of the rape and murder of his sister and wife to shield the culprits ‘is no punishment but eyewash to pacify the public anger’. Alleging the authorities of trying to hush up the case by causing unnecessary delay in booking the culprits he said: "Had government been sincere in punishing the persons involved in the heinous crime they would have put police behind the bars instead of placing them under mere suspension." He said that the police officials would not have even been suspended had the public not mounted pressure on the government. “But the police officials even after being found involved in shielding the culprits were given the same punishment as is given to the government employee for remaining absent from the duty,” said Ahanger. Shakeel also accused the police of subjecting him to severe mental torture by summoning him daily to police station for questioning. "They subject me to the mental torture by asking me the same questions I have been answering since the day my sister and wife were brutally murdered."Besides knowing that my sister and wife were left with torn clothes and bruised by the beasts they ask me the questions like how was the condition of my wife and sister at the moment their bodies were recovered thus adding to my pain," Shakeel added

Thursday, June 18, 2009

JKCHR expresses concern on PSA abuse

Courtesty: Rising Kashmir News
London, June 18: London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights Thursday expressed serious concern on the abuse of authority by a section of State administration in Jammu and Kashmir.Expressing its concern on the arrest and detention of juveniles under PSA, Secretary General JKCHR Dr Syed Nazir Gilani said the alleged arrest of a 14-year-old under PSA does not reflect well on the core ability of the civil administration to serve the interests of the State in the collective welfare of its people. It seems that the administrative habitat in Kashmir has not moved beyond the repressive culture of September 1931, when people were incarcerated as ‘turbulent persons’ by the Maharaja government.
Gilani said the powers exercised by police under PSA was a grim reminder of Maharaja’s Notification on 24 September 1931 providing for the “conferment of Special Powers upon certain...officers for suppression of disorder and the restoration and maintenance of law and order” in the State.JKCHR Secretary General said that the authority of the elected government to govern is the freely expressed will and confidence of the people. “If it fails to conserve the trust of the people and fails to respect their basic rights, the core basis of governance is vitiated.”
Commenting on other arrests under PSA, Gilani said that a prisoner or a detainee does not lose his or her human rights. “Treatment of such people is the real litmus test of a decent and law abiding administration.”Gilani cautioned the officials involved in such arrests that if they fail in their duty to fairness they might have incurred a criminal liability for the abuse of their authority, which embeds very serious consequences for the offending officers.

Military, executive undermine judiciary in Kashmir: US law school report

Courtesy: Rising Kashmir News
Srinagar, June 18: United States based Yale Law School report has said that cases against the troopers are rarely given any judgement in Kashmir as military and executive officials often act to undermine the efficiency and equity of the court system.“The failures of Kashmiri legal system are not solely responsibility of the judiciary, as military and executive officials often act to undermine the efficiency and equity of the court system,” the report observed.In a report "The Myth of Normalcy: Impunity and the Judiciary in Kashmir" in which it has examined the adequacy of legal process afforded to victims of human rights abuses bringing legal claims against the government here.The Lowenstein Clinic's report examined the existing legal process for two types of human rights claims: affirmative claims against the Indian military and habeas corpus petitions. These claims are rarely adjudicated, the report said.The report laid emphasis on how government officials systematically failed to investigate claims, refuse to participate in investigations and prosecutions, and ignore the contempt court orders of court attempting to force their participation in proceedings concerning human rights claims.It also highlights the government's disregard to its own standards governing detention, refuses to honour court orders, quashing detention, and exploits procedural impediments to avoid presenting detainees in the court. The Lowenstein Clinic report analyzes whether the Kashmiri judicial system operates in accordance with international human rights standards. It has exposed the urgent need for heightened attention to the shortcomings of the Kashmiri legal system.The report was prepared by a team of students of Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic produced at the request of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.

Monday, June 15, 2009

'Men in uniform are Kashmir's problem, not solution'

Courtesy: Times of India dt June 14th, 2009 by Sanjay KakThose who use the media filter to try to understand what is happening in Kashmir should realize they're looking at a shadow play. A curtain lies between events and us. What is played out on the screen depends on who manipulates the source of light.

Last summer, the Valley was overwhelmed by several months of unprecedented non-violent public protest. It was triggered by the complicated Amarnath land issue, but on the streets the people were saying "Hum kya chahte? Azadi!" We are hearing this again this summer, triggered by the rape and murder of two young women from Shopian in south Kashmir. Only the stone deaf could miss the cry.

Between these two summer uprisings came the Assembly elections of December. As everyone braced for a boycott, people did turn out to vote. This surprise turnout was presented as nothing short of a miracle and we were informed that this was "a vote for Indian democracy". Those who wondered why people who had braved bullets only a month ago should suddenly queue up to vote were reminded that Kashmiris were an unpredictable, even contrary, people.

In fact, there is a frightening consistence about the Kashmiri chant for decades: "Hum kya chahte? Azadi!" Protests have begun for all sorts of reasons but they are a manifestation of the simmering anger always close to the surface.

The current round of protests were given a head-start by the distinctly amateur vacillations of the state chief minister, not least his puzzling shifts on what may have actually happened to Nilofar, 22, and her sister-in-law Asiya, 17, on the night of May 29. Well-intentioned though he may be, Omar Abdullah seems very badly advised, or else possessed of a political death-wish.

In its election campaign the National Conference made a point of underlining that it was seeking a mandate for development, for bijli, sadak, pani. It made no claim to settling masla-e-Kashmir or the Kashmir issue. But once the elections were over, they went along with the Indian establishment, which trumpeted the turnout as a decisive mandate in India's favour. The inability of Omar Abdullah's government to reach out to the people of the Valley in the past fortnight is a timely reminder of the dangers of that delusion. In just a little over 10 days, the protests have damaged the patina of normalcy that the election 'success' painted on a deeply troubled situation.

In the middle of all this, but almost buried by events, the J&K police announced the arrest of Constable Nazir Ahmed of the India Reserve Police battalion for allegedly raping a minor girl in Baramulla in north Kashmir. (They admitted the constable was a former Personal Security Officer of Ghulam Hassan Mir, legislator and former minister). Days after the incident, a scuffle between the families of the victim and the policeman led to the tragic killing of the victim's grandmother.

Both incidents of the past fortnight must be placed next to one from a few years ago, when the infamous "sex scandal" led to huge protests, bringing Srinagar to a grinding halt. That was a tawdry tale of the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women, including the prostitution of minors. It was on a massive scale, with the involvement of politicians, senior bureaucrats, police and paramilitary officers. The scandal exposed the ugly networks of power and oppression, which prop up the structures of control in Kashmir. It also laid bare the vulnerability of women all over the Valley, prey to the brutal arrogance unleashed by 20 years of intense militarization and unbridled power.

It's a good time to remember that the acquisition of land for the Amarnath yatra was only the spark that set off last summer's protests. But the real fuel was widespread resentment about the fact that thousands of acres of agricultural, orchard and forest land is under occupation by the army and paramilitary forces, housing their feared camps and cantonments and vast logistics bases. The Kashmiris' behaviour then turns out to be underpinned by a fairly straightforward political reason: we don't need to delve into their fragile 'psyche'.

This week, the lights behind the curtain are being moved around to give the illusion of change: the CRPF's duties are to be handed over to the J&K police. If true, this will need massive local police recruitment and give a disturbing new twist to the Indian government's promise of employment to young Kashmiris. (However, from the Establishment's point of view, a policeman in every home may well be a solution to Kashmir's troubles.)

But this change of guard will not alter the lives of ordinary people. They do not care if the oppressive figure of the soldier wears the uniform of the Indian Army, its paramilitary forces, or is their neighbour in brand new fatigues. Such shallow transformation is not new: people remember the 'disbanding' of the dreaded Special Operations Group, which was simply merged into regular police operations; or the highly public way in which the CRPF replaced the BSF in Srinagar, leaving the countryside in the Army's iron grip.

This summer's protest is not just about the rape and murder of two women, the violation of human rights, or even the repeal of some draconian law. The shadow play must not distract us from the real issue, which is the extraordinary and intolerable militarization of Kashmir.

Sanjay Kak is a filmmaker whose most recent documentary 'Jashn-e-Azadi' explores the conflict in Kashmir

Thursday, June 11, 2009


• Repeal security legislations
• Carry impartial probe into Shopian incident
• What about past inquiries?
. Police, troopers fired live ammunition at protestors
• Police failed to interview potential witnesses
• Present detained leaders before judicial authority
Rising Kashmir News Srinagar, June 11: The Amnesty International has criticized New Delhi for the continued human rights violations in Kashmir and the recent rape and murder of two women allegedly by troopers.In its report released on Wednesday, the Amnesty called on Indian authorities to immediately carry out fair and impartial investigations into the allegations of paramilitary CRPF involvement in the murders and sexual assault of the two women.
The two women, 22-year-old Aasiya Jan and her sister-in-law, 17-year-old Nilofer Jan, went missing when they went to tend their family fruit orchard on 29 May at Nagbal near Shopian. Their bodies were discovered next day in two different places at Ranbi Ara, a stream close to paramilitary CRPF camp.The Amnesty report said police and paramilitary forces had resorted to firing at protesters in several places including Shopian, Baramulla and Srinagar. “Reports from hospitals that admitted the injured indicate that troops fired both live ammunition and rubber bullets.”Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director, Sam Zarifi said authorities should ensure that troops comply with international human rights standards on law enforcement, in particular those relating to the use of force to deal with protestors. “Any instance of excessive use of force should be impartially investigated. These protests are about the ongoing failure of the Indian government to bring troopers to justice for serious human rights violations.”The report said police had failed to interview potential witnesses even as the state authorities ordered a judicial inquiry into the murders.The Amnesty called for repeal of the security legislation in force in Jammu and Kashmir that facilitates impunity by providing discretionary powers to troopers and effectively enabling them to violate human rights.It also expressed serious concern over the effectiveness of past inquiries ordered by the authorities into human rights violations including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and sexual assault of women.The report said that Amnesty had received information on 8 June that at least four pro-freedom Kashmiri leaders had been arbitrarily detained.“No charge has been leveled against them so far,” the Amnesty said. “One of the detained leaders, Syed Ali Geelani was taken to an unknown destination. Yasin Malik, Javed Mir and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were placed under house arrest.”Amnesty called on the authorities to disclose details of their detention including as to how they are being treated and immediately release those detained unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence.Amnesty International has also said that they should only be held in official and acknowledged places of detention and brought promptly before an independent judicial authority.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Courtesy: Time Magazine- By YUSUF JAMEEL / SRINAGAR Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2009
The Vale of Kashmir is simmering again, this time over the rape and alleged murder of two young Muslim women. The corpses of 17-year-old Aasiya Jan and her sister-in-law, Nilofar Shakeel, 22, were found floating in a shallow stream on May 30, hours after their disappearance from their family's apple orchards in the city of Shopian in Indian Kashmir. Locals have alleged that Indian soldiers from a military encampment in the neighborhood were involved in the violent acts, reigniting separatist calls in the Muslim-majority region. At least one protester was killed and more than 300 people have been wounded in pitched street battles between angry residents and police that have brought the scenic Himalayan region to a standstill for over a week.
Autopsy reports and forensic investigations have confirmed that Aasiya and Nilofar, who was pregnant, were both raped, but authorities have not yet confirmed that either woman was murdered. A special police team has been assigned to the investigation. So far, no charges have been made, but chief minister of Indian-administered-Kashmir Omar Abdullah has said the government is committed to finding the perpetrators of the violent crime. "Nilofar and Aasiya were like my sisters and I, as brother, feel the pain of the tragedy that has befallen the victim family," Omar said. He pledged not to rest till the perpetrators are brought to justice. The Indian army and other security forces have not yet responded to residents' allegations.
Those assurances have failed to cool down tempers. The unrest has sparked Kashmiri separatists' call for azadi — "freedom" — once again, recalling scenes from a decades-long insurgency that has claimed many thousands of lives. In the first weeks of June, the streets of Srinagar and elsewhere have been filled with hundreds of men and women demanding independence from Indian rule. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, 79, a longtime separatist known for his hard standpoint on the issue of Kashmir, was quick to seize on the incident to mobilize protesters for his cause. He was arrested along with other key voices in the movement, most of whom have since been detained under a tough law called the Public Safety Act and shifted to jails outside the Valley. Several hundred average "troublemakers" have also been put behind the bars in the much-criticized sweep by police. Kashmir's chief minister Omar Abdullah has defended the action. "They took advantage of the tragic Shopian incident and plunged people into further misery," he told the Greater Kashmir newspaper.
Despite the relative peace that has come to Kashmir in recent years, anti-India sentiment still runs deep in predominantly Muslim Indian state. Some separatist leaders continue to seek full independence for the state; others a plebiscite to determine whether Kashmir should fall under Indian or Pakistani rule. Incidents like the Shopian deaths often lead high-voltage clashes between the region's residents and Indian security forces. Abdullah, Kashmir's chief, admits that absolute peace and normalcy will evade the region unless a sustained peace dialogue takes place within the state and between New Delhi and Islamabad. "New Delhi ought to talk to all the stakeholders including separatist leaders in Kashmir. Simultaneously, [India's] dialogue with Pakistan must be resumed without delay." he said.
This week's uproar is reminiscent of a similar situation that unfolded last summer after the state government decided to transfer about 100 acres of land to a Hindu consortium. The move was designed to improve amenities for the thousands of Hindus who come to Kashmir each year to worship at a local cave-shrine. More than 60 people were killed in the protests that followed that policy. Incidents like these take both a personal and an economic toll: Hundreds of Indian and foreign tourists were driven out of the Valley this week, and tour operators say that many bookings for tours and weddings — a big business in this scenic spot — have been cancelled. "More or less, three thousand marriages have been postponed or cancelled over the past one week," says Farooq Ahmed Bhandari, a chef who caters traditional wedding banquets. (
Read about the 2008 clashes.)
The opposition has been quick to point out the government's failings in dealing with the crisis. Former chief minister and leader of opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, says the official "mishandling" of the Shopian incident caused its escalation. Some Kashmir watchers also say that the chief minister's early response to the Shopian incident — that there was no evidence of foul play and that the women had likely drowned — got him into trouble. That statement was apparently based on early police information that the autopsy revealed no marks of violence on the dead bodies. But as local television channels continued to loop footage of the victims' bodies in abject condition, surrounded by mourning relatives who squarely placed blame on the Indian troops, the lingering feelings of a decades-long conflict once again surfaced.
Mufti the former chief minister, says the region and its people will continue to suffer economic and personal losses in incidents unless Indian armed forces are recalled from populated areas and the laws which give them impunity are repealed. In a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, he asserted that the effort that had gone into creating a new atmosphere of peace, reconciliation and resolution in and around Indian-administered-Kashmir "seems at a real risk of going waste unless immediate retrieval is made." Ostensibly in an acknowledgement of the situation being serious enough, Indian home (interior) minister P Chidambaram has scheduled a visit to Srinagar later during this week.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Kashmir's chief Muslim cleric and a moderate face of separatist movement, agrees with Mufti — though only partly. "Complete peace and normalcy will return to Kashmir and rest of the South Asian region only when the core issue of Kashmir is resolved as per wishes and aspirations of its people," says Farooq. Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a political analyst and a professor of law at the Kashmir University, agrees: "It is the virus and not the symptoms which require to be taken care of."

Monday, June 1, 2009

The fallacy and comedy of useless government probes against atrocities of armed forces

Govt. yet to implement enquiry report recommendations of Wular Tragedy even after one year that indicted Indian Navy of the murder of 22 Kashmiri children
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dated May 31st, 2009 by Shahjahan Afzal
Kupwara, May 30: Speaking on the third death anniversary of Wular tragedy in which 22 persons including 20 school children drowned when Indian Navy had taken them on a boat ride, parents and students and various organisations Saturday asked the government to implement the Naqashbandi inquiry report. Students in hundreds and teachers of the area held a condolence meet at Handwara in north Kashmir district of Kupwara. Chairman ‘Wular Tragedy Martyrs Committee’ Ghulam Mohiuddin Zargar, spearheading the campaign for justice told Rising Kashmir that three years have passed but government is yet to implement the recommendations of inquiry report, “Despite the tall assurances from the then government and the then Navy Chief, Admiral Arun Prakash that the guilty will be treated as per the law nothing has come out.” Zargar further said: “Indian Navy played big joke with the souls of the deceased by constructing Children Hospital amid media hype at Handwara in their memory. The hospital is without staff and the machinery installed is getting rusted with each passing day.”All the 22 deceased belonged to ‘Burning Candle Public School’ Handwara. On the occasion the parents, teachers and the colleagues of the deceased children together held a condolence meet at Sunrise Public School, where they mourned the death of dear ones. The participants while paying rich tributes to the deceased souls demanded implementation of the inquiry report. Bilal Akbar of Khaipora, while addressing the audience said, “Kashmiri are suppressed people. Our voices are muzzled.” Rafia of ‘Kehkashan’ School criticised the attitude of some people and accused that they are of dual character. “On one hand we support Azaadi yet we also support Indian polity by voting which we must not,” said Rafia. She accused the parents of the deceased souls of selling out their blood. Another student Nadia of 10th class said: “I still vividly remember my friends who lost their life in the tragedy. Their sweet memories neither let me sleep nor let me eat at most of the times.” Trying to console the bereaved parents Nadia said, “Don’t worry they are not dead they are alive.”NGO, Global Peace Foundation, Chairperson Abdur Rashid also paid rich tributes to the children who lost their lives in the tragedy.On 30 May 2006, 20 children were drowned in a boat capsize in Wular Lake. The incident evoked massive anger and condemnation against the Indian Navy for negligence from most sections of the State, forcing the government to launch an inquiry into the incident.The then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on 06 September formed an inquiry committee to look into the incident. The team of inquiry was headed by Syed Tariq Naqashbandi, the then district and sessions judge Srinagar. In his 156 page inquiry report found 4 persons of Indian Navy including Lt K S Nehra, Krishan Khalvi Ballot No, NEI (SD)129116Y designated as Boat Operator, Bali Ram Ballot No, 15769722/W, Gansham Ballot No, 15762395-N were held responsible. The inquiry also held principal of the school Muhammad Rafiq Khan responsible for the drowning of the students.