WULLAR TRAGEDY:4 yrs on, sufferers await justice
Indicted Navy officials yet to be punished
UMER MAQBOOL DAR
Handwara, May 29: Not surprisingly though, Jammu and Kashmir government is yet to initiate action against the Navy personnel indicted by a judicial commission for drowning school children in Wullar Lake four years ago.
On May 30, 2006, 22 persons including 20 children of Burning Candle Public School Handwara were drowned in Wular Lake due to negligence of Marcos, an elite operation unit of Navy, deployed in counter-insurgency operations in the Lake since 1990.
Following massive protests across the Valley, the state government, led by then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, had ordered judicial inquiry in the case.
The inquiry officer, Tariq Naqashbandi, blamed four Navy officials—Lt K S Nehra, officer in-charge naval Det (Marcos), Watlab, Krishan Khulvi boat operator, Raj Ram and Ganishan—for negligence in the tragedy, which later came to be known as the Wullar Tragedy.
Naqashbandi had recommended that criminal proceedings be launched against the four Navy officials and principal of the school for negligence, which resulted in the tragedy.
On Saturday, the families of the deceased children, spearheading campaign for justice under the banner of “Wular Martyrs Committee (WMC)” accused the state government of hushing up the case. “So far the guilty Navy personnel have neither been charge-sheeted nor punished in accordance with the recommendations of inquiry commission,” said Ghulam Nabi, a WMC member. “The findings of the probe panel have not been honoured.”
Pertinently, then Navy Chief, Admiral Arun Prakash, is on record having said that no one from the Navy would be spared if indicted. The Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had said that he would write to Naval authorities to initiate action against guilty personnel.
The tragedy is still fresh in the hearts of its survivors. “I also boarded the boat, but my Didi (sister) brought me down saying that it is dangerous to travel in it as it was already overloaded,” recalls Sufiya, who lost her two sisters in the tragedy. “But as the boat was in middle of lake it overturned. All my colleagues were crying for help. But the men (navy men) were watching as mute spectators from the banks of lake,” she said.
Another student, Fozia, said the lives of her classmates would have been saved had the Navy personnel come to their rescue.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 30 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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