Separatists welcome recommendations


Srinagar, Jan 24: State’s political parties on Thursday welcomed Justice JS Verma committee’s recommendations for reviewing the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in conflict zones like Jammu and Kashmir, asking Government of India to act on the proposal forthwith.
Justice Verma panel set up by the Union Government to look into laws for sexual crimes suggested that the armed forces, including paramilitary forces, should be brought under the purview of a common law while operating in conflict areas to check sexual offences against women.
“It is a welcome step but cases of rape against armed forces in Kashmir during past 24 years should be investigated and culprits punished,” said Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani.
Geelani said there were rape cases pending investigation in places like Kunan-Poshpora and Bader Payeen.
“Those involved in the heinous crimes should not be given shelter under AFSPA,” Geelani said.
JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik said there was no room for the draconian laws like AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir after Kashmir witnessed a transition towards peaceful struggle in 2008.
The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday called for an All Party Meeting to discuss Justice Verma panel report. The panel was set up by the Union Government to look into laws for sexual crimes following heinous gang-rape of a young woman in New Delhi.
In Kashmir human rights groups are fighting for justice in many cases of alleged rape and molestation by armed forces during the past 24 years.
On the intervening night of February 23/24, 1991 at least 30 women of the two villages Kunan and Poshpora in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district were allegedly gang-raped by army personnel of 4-Rajputana Rifles.
Last year the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) asked state government to re-open the case, but there has been no progress on its recommendations.
Ruling National Conference also hailed the Verma panel recommendations. “The onus is on Government of India to implement the report especially in case of Kashmir where crimes like rape and killings are being shelved in what they say national interest,” said senior NC leader and Member Parliament Dr Mehboob Beg.
He said Government of India should now put in place a mechanism wherein sexual offences committed by anybody in places like Kashmir should be punished under ordinary criminal law.
“It will be the first step towards addressing alienation in Kashmir,” Dr Beg said.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party welcomed Justice Verma panel report.
PDP chief spokesman Naeem Akthar said the recommendations would have a good impact on Kashmir provided these are accepted.
To a question that state government had welcomed the report and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has proposed an All Party Meeting to discuss the same, Akthar said: “It seems he (Omar) is trying to clutch a proverbial straw after having failed to remove AFSPA in a few days declared by him in October 2011.”
Akthar said Justice Verma “suddenly looks like an angel to the Chief Minister who would help rescue him from his unfulfilled commitment”.
However, State Congress refused to react to the report. “We are yet to read it,” said State Congress President, Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz.
However, he welcomed the Chief Minister proposal for All Party meeting.
State Secretary CPI-M hailed the recommendations saying “extreme clauses in AFSPA have led to misuse of the powers under different pretexts”.
“Sexual offences by armed forces and uniformed men should be brought under ordinary criminal law,” Tarigami said.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 24 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 24 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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