Mechanism in place to avoid target killings: HC

 J&K High Court, Srinagar
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh Thursday said that it was “common knowledge that the administration was making all efforts to provide security and protection to the religious minorities in J&K and a robust mechanism was being deployed to avoid targeted killings and to investigate it”.

Disposing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS), which had sought the court’s intervention to protect the lives of the religious minorities in J&K in the aftermath of target killings earlier this year, a division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani left it to the government to consider the issues raised in consultation with the Samiti.

“We do not want to enter into the merits of the issues which have been raised by the petitioner Samiti in the representation to this court and rather consider it appropriate to leave those issues to be considered, negotiated, and resolved at the level of the government in consultation with the representatives of the petitioner Samiti,” the bench said. The court said this following its perusal of a “note” of J&K’s Special DG, CID, which was produced before it by Advocate General D C Raina in a sealed cover “to contend that all possible care is taken to address all the issues”.

Accordingly, the court left it open for the Samiti to submit a fresh representation highlighting its grievances before J&K’s Secretary Home in a comprehensive manner. “Once such a memorandum and representation is submitted, Secretary Home will sit with the President of the Samiti or any other nominee of the Samiti so authorised and consider the grievances of the petitioner,” the court said.

After receiving the suggestions, if necessary, (the government), the court said, may take appropriate remedial steps that might be considered necessary in the overall interest of J&K and the members of the minority community as claimed.

In a letter to the Chief Justice on June 1 this year, Sanjay K Tickoo, President KPSS had urged the court to issue directions to protect the lives of the religious minorities in J&K, claiming that their lives were at stake due to the “callous approach of the J&K and central administration”.

The KPSS had also sought directions to summon the concerned officials of the administration to explain the policy and mechanism they had devised since June 8, 2020, the date on which a Kashmiri Pandit Ajay Pandita (Bharti) was killed in Anantnag district.

KPSS had also sought directions to investigate all targeted killings that occurred since June 8, 2020 “to examine the role of all officers involved in it and to suspend them without any delay in negligence on their part”.

Besides, the KPSS had also sought directions to investigate all transfers before June 12, 2022, which had been made at the behest of the “blue-eyed” persons.

The court had treated Simiti’s letter which was also seeking to relocate all religious minorities living in Kashmir to a safer place outside Kashmir as PIL.

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