A Question of Justice

The Court of Forest Magistrate, Srinagar B A Munshi directed Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar to execute the warrants and produce the accused before the court on December 1.

On Friday, a court in Srinagar issued fresh non-bailable arrest warrants against two policemen ASI Abdul Khaliq Sofi and SPO Muhammad Akram found guilty of culpable homicide in the killing of Wamiq Farooq, a class 7th student who was hit by a police teargas shell on his head during the 2010 mass unrest in Kashmir.  The    Court of Forest Magistrate, Srinagar B A Munshi directed Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar to execute the warrants and produce the accused before the court on December 1.

Earlier on August 22, 2013, Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar had issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Sofi and Akram on the basis of a judicial inquiry and police probe which prima-facie established their guilt. The case has been going on since 2010 but the guilty policemen are yet to face the justice.

However, this evasion of justice is not specific to Wamiq's death but extends to around 120 persons – most of them teenagers – who were killed during the unrest in 2010. These deaths and those of the scores of youth killed in the preceding two years have been all but forgotten. There has been no community-level effort to rehabilitate the families.

And at the same time there has been no official accountability for their deaths. The state government that never tires of complaining about the impunity enjoyed by the army and paramilitary forces under AFSPA has refused to pin the responsibility for these killings.  Now five years on, the justice still eludes the families of the deceased. And there is hardly any hope that it will ever come. This is attested to by the scores of government probes and commissions that have come to nought. As one of our recent report revealed, J&K government has ordered at least seven inquiries into civilian killings in Kashmir in the past nine months but  they haven't yielded any results. In some of them the government has failed to act on the findings, and a few other probes have been left midway. This wilful miscarriage of justice despite protestations to the contrary has only further weakened the faith of people in the system from which they are already deeply alienated.  

The scenario hardly creates any hope for closure in respect of 120 youth killed in 2010. Or in case of around 70 others killed over 2008 and 2009. Would Wamiq case be any different? Unlikely. But people will still be inclined to keep their fingers crossed. Here is hoping that the case turns out to be a redeeming exception to the rule. 

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