Omar talks tough on troops
Says Almost Every Encounter Has Question Marks Now; Army Assures Cooperation, But Needs AFSPA ‘For Legal Protection’
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
New Delhi, June 5: Ahead of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has raised a question mark over recent “encounter killings” by troops in the state and made a strong pitch for changes in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to make it more transparent.
“Obviously there would be doubts. This is the problem when a handful of people for their short-term gains are willing to sacrifice the long-term interests of not only forces they represent but that of everybody else,” he told NDTV television channel.
He was asked whether there were doubts about recent encounters involving troops along the Line of Control (LoC).
The Army had on April 30 said they killed three unidentified infiltrators in Machhil sector along the LoC. However, they later turned out to be local boys who were picked up and killed by troops in a fake encounter, following which a territorial army man and two others were arrested.
“Obviously there will be serious repercussions and doubts will emerge. J&K police is flooded with such complaints and enquiries about encounters are now going back more than five-six years and in some case even eight years,” Abdullah said.
“We have dug up bodies and verified whether these encounters are genuine or not. This has really put a lot of additional work on the already burdened police force because a whole host of questions are being asked about these encounters,” he said.
He said every complaint that has been made to the police after the Machhil encounter, they have looked into it and “have satisfied the complainants that whatever deaths have so far taken place other than the Machhil one have been the result of genuine encounters”.
Asked whether there was still a question mark over some other encounters and that is why he was saying that those will have to be verified, Abdullah said, “I am saying that almost every encounter, unfortunately, that has taken place now has question marks being posed by people and it is our duty to address those questions.”
Asked about Army personnel being indicted for their involvement in alleged fake encounters, Abdullah said the biggest problem in these cases was absence of transparency.
“Unfortunately, because of the AFSPA because it is built for the armed forces, Army is the judge, jury and the hangman. Therefore, there is absence of transparency as a result of which people have lost faith in the system,” he said.
The Chief Minister said people do not believe that justice would be done and that is why such reactions to the AFSPA and the armed forces take place.
Abdullah said while the AFSPA was required, “it needs to be amended so that it is more transparent, more accountable and people have more faith in the system.”
The Prime Minister is scheduled to undertake a two-day visit to Kashmir from June 7 during which he is expected to renew the offer for talks with separatists and review the progress on the Round Table peace initiative.
This will be Singh’s second visit to the Kashmir valley in the first year of his second term in office. He was in Srinagar last October.
Abdullah said that Singh will be going with a comprehensive agenda of development and progress. “I am sure there will be a political element built into his agenda as well.”
On people’s expectations from the visit, the Chief Minister said they will seek some sort of indication on Centre’s intention to kickstart the stalled dialogue between Delhi and mainstream political voices as also other players.
Asked whether the “quiet dialogue” initiated by Home Minister P Chidamabaram with a section of separatists had not been handled well, he said, “I don’t think that it was Delhi’s fault that the quiet dialogue didn’t remain quiet.”
“I think concerted efforts were made in certain quarters throughout the dialogue process and that is what it fell victim to,” Abdullah said.
He said attempts at reaching out to certain sections of the Hurriyat Conference using back channels were continuing and hoped these efforts would realise “the results we all hope for.”
ARMY PROMISES FULL COOPERATION
Army today promised full cooperation and action against the guilty in Machil killings but insisted on the necessity of special powers for security forces for “legal protection”.
“We will fully cooperate in all investigations,” a senior Army official said here.
Insisting that the “Army follows a policy of zero tolerance for human rights violations”, he said, “action will certainly be taken against violations of the code of conduct set for personnel operating in areas where Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is in force.”
“The Army will remain transparent in the encounters,” the army official said.
With regard to the AFSPA in which Abdullah wants changes, the Army official said when the armed forces are sent for handling an internal security situation, they need the “legal protection” under the AFSPA to carry out their operations effectively.
He, however, added that since the demand for changes in AFSPA had been made by the state Chief Minister, it was for the political leadership to take a decision on it.
* Because Of AFSPA,
Army Is The Judge,
Jury And The Hangman
* AFSPA Needs To Be
Amended For More
* People Have Lost Faith
In The System Because
Of Absence Of
Transparency In Army
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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