As cheap as life
Mere confession is not enough, punishment matters
WORDS WITHIN BY FIRDOUS SYED
Inayat, Wamiq, Zahid and many others - boys in their early teens continue to die. Forces accuse boys for stonepeting and vandalism, none of the boys killed rather murdered in cold-blood were part of any protesting crowd. Possibly, boys became victim of state repression, or wanton target of forces gone berserk. Buckling under intense public pressure and boys furry, government was forced to produce one accused as killer of Zahid. And Omar Abdullah patting himself happily sought to close the chapter, “In this particular case, by swiftly identifying the accused… we have replied many questions raised against the government”. He even thanked Union Home Minister P Chidambaram for the help in identifying the killer of Zahid. However the case is not really closed yet, all the killers have not been fully exposed and many more questions remain unanswered. Even a layman can make out, it is a white wash; entire government machinery has embarked on a mission to save the real culprits. Constable Lakhvinder Singh, presented as accused by Border Security Force (BSF) seems to be a scapegoat to protect the chain of command?
Before facts firmly came to the fore that BSF personnel are involved in the ghastly crime, every effort was being made by concerned authorities to shift the blame. BSF issued a strong denial on February 6; “involvement of Border Security Force” in the killing of Zahid Farooq is “fabricated and totally baseless”. Usage of the term ‘fabricated’ was a vain attempt to cast aspersions on the Valley press for deliberately vilifying BSF’s image. It advised rather commanded the local press, “You are requested not to publish such type of fabricated news items in your paper that not only tarnishes the image of the BSF”. National press as unusual in order to serve the so-called ‘national interests also joined the campaign. Leading national daily, Hindustan Times (Delhi, February 07) prominently carried a story, ‘Mobs bigger challenge than terrorists’. Spreading canards HT reported, “It needs to be investigated but prima facie, the bullet wounds on the boy’s chest appear to have been caused due to a small weapon rather than the Insas rifle (that forces use)”. Absolving the forces completely of any wrongdoing, the report lay blame on “stone-pelting mobs and rumour-mongering” for spreading the rumors of “central security forces” responsible for the killing of Zahid.
Lies have no legs to stand, as result of BSF owning the killing by one of its trooper; high velocity media campaign has crumbled to dust. Truth has prevailed albeit partially. Any body even having a little knowledge about the functioning of the forces in the valley can easily make out, BSF has presented a cock and bull story. It is not possible for a single person to venture out armed, out of his camp in volatile conditions and kill a teenager. What was the motive or provocation for the killing? And if Lakhvinder Singh was part of a convoy seated in a Gypsy with five or six others, how come he alone is responsible for the crime? Even if he only fired the bullet others were collaborators of the crime. All the traveling together in the convoy needs to be investigated for the criminal offences under section RPC 34, and 109 if not under section 302? Keeping quiet and hiding the crime before law equal’s to abetting the crime. When Lakhvinder fired upon the boy why others with him not tried to stop him and why they fled away taking along the accused in the same gypsy from the crime scene without reporting the crime to the police? Police has to identify all the persons present at the time of crime, they all stand accused for hiding the crime with ill intentions of protecting the accused. They have to be tried under section 202 of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), which clearly states; “Whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed, intentionally omits to give any information respecting that offence which he is legally bound to give, shall be punished…”
Moreover it was not a criminal or a gangster who killed the body on his own. Lakhvinder being member of a Para military was traveling in a convoy; surely his senior officers would have been accompanying him. Did he fire without an order from his seniors is difficult to digest? Zahid’s father has made a sensational discloser; “The officer snatched the rifle of one of his troopers and asked Zahid and his friends to runaway from the spot. Without any provocation, the officer aimed at them and then fired upon Zahid. Soon after, the officer, along with his troopers, fled from the spot. It is clear that the officer had fired with the intention to kill”. If government is really serious to punish the wrong doers this statement should become the important part of the investigation. Furthermore if government wants to shield itself from the accusations of protecting the culprits and not trying to suppress the facts, let all the persons of the convoy or gypsy be paraded before the eyewitnesses, it is a standard procedure of criminal investigation.
Hardly any body in Kashmir would believe that indiscriminate killing of the boys carried in frequent intervals is not part of a state design, mainly for two reasons. a) Despite repeated assurances of ‘zero tolerance’ towards human rights violations, from Prime Minister to down below; forces continue to murder and maim the innocents, unabashedly without any fear of any reprisal. b) If killing of innocent Kashmiri youth is not part of any state policy, why no body till date has been punished appropriately, corresponding to the gravity of the crime.
Many commissions of inquiry ordered by government have proved beyond reasonable doubt, the charges of excessive use of force, and mellitus intent. Yet culprits move Scot-free, which deepens the suspicion of the common masses. For more than two decades now, gross human rights violations perpetrated by forces stationed here has become a regular affair. After each and every human right violation committed, government ordered an inquiry commission. Gow Kadal, Alamgrahi Bazar, Sopore, Bijbehera, Nadimarg, Chattisingpora are few of the worst incidents wherein probe was ordered. Years have passed by; people are justified to ask question why the inquiry reports are eating the dust? Why killers [already] identified have not been brought to justice? When it comes the issue of justice for people of Kashmir, why government hide behind the so-called special powers? Why killers enjoy absolute impunity here? Is this possible in a democratic dispensation? Most of the people in Kashmir believe it is a ‘Jungle Raj’ law of the victor, which prevails here.
NC-Congress government is more than a year old. Understandably it cannot be held responsible for every mistake committed in the past. Likewise, it cannot escape the responsibility for what has happened during his term. In case of Bomai, Varmul, Shopian and on numerous occasions in Srinagar and other parts of Jammu and Kashmir, government ordered judicial as well as administrative inquiries. All these inquiries have met the same fate; these have been consigned to the dustbin. No palpable action has been taken against the perpetrators of the heinous crimes. Without getting carried away by the emotions, let us dispassionately pose a straight question to the government of the besieged state. Judging by the experience of past thirteen months, why should anybody anymore believe inquiry commissions ordered by him? Why should not people in Kashmir take the assurance of Zero Tolerance with a pinch of salt. What is happening on the ground is painfully different from what government is claiming to have done. There is no respite for the people; this government like so many others in the past has failed to provide any sense of security to the people reeling under scare.
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Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Feb 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Feb 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Feb 2010 00:00:00 IST
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