Srinagar, Oct 9: Cutting across party lines, several members of the Legislative Assembly on Saturday castigated the Government's move of repeatedly imposing curfew and not allowing congregational Friday prayers particularly in the old city.
As soon as the proceedings started in the House, CPI (M) General Secretary M Y Tarigami expressed concern over the continuous curfew in the old city. "The historic old Srinagar city has always been under the line of fire. The people there have suffered much. When curfew has been lifted from whole Valley, why has it is still being imposed in the Srinagar's old city? Tarigami asked.
"Ironically, for the fourth consecutive Friday, congregational Friday prayers have not been allowed in Jamia Masjid and other mosques there. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (chairman of Hurriyat (M) and Valley's head priest) has been put under house arrest and was also not allowed and perform his religious duties at Jamia Masjid. I condemn these curbs and want that the Government should adopt a humane approach," Tarigami said.
Tarigami was joined by PDF legislator Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen who asked the Government to review its policy of repeatedly imposing curfews in the old city.
Independent legislator Engineer Abdul Rasheed said the Government as well as Kashmiris facilitated the smooth conduct of the Amarnath Yatra. "Not a single pilgrim was harmed during the pilgrimage. We fail to understand why the Government does not allow prayers at Jamia Masjid. We can have ideological differences with Mirwaiz but we can't stop anyone from offering prayers," Rasheed said.
The National Conference legislators, Nazir Gurezi and Peer Afaaq also expressed resentment over the imposition of curfew in the old city and highlighted inconvenience due to it to the inhabitants.
The Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Sagar said the curfew was imposed based on the situation and intelligence inputs regarding a particular place. "Government also does not want to impose curfew. It is worrying for us. However, for protecting public and private property, we have to sometimes enforce curfew in volatile areas. We will certainly review imposition on curfews," Sagar said.
Later on a question by Tarigami regarding details on the enquiries conducted into the civilian killings, Sagar informed the House that Government has constituted a Judical Commission headed by Justice (Retd) Bashir-ud-Din to probe 17 out of 110 killings since June 11. He said in a separate inquiry into the killings of four civilian at Anchidora Islamabad, the Government had accepted the magisterial report and will act against the accused officers according to the recommendations.
However, Tarigami was dissatisfied by the reply. "Probes into the human rights violations have been conduced since 1990 but we don't know its recommendations or findings. I want to maintain that the killings of 110 civilians in past over three months is no less than a catastrophe. Don't get misled by the opening of shops and plying of vehicles. The wounds are still open and they need balm. The dead will never return but let us know under which circumstance they were killed," Tarigami said.
Replying to a question from Engineer Rasheed, the Law Minister acknowledged that troopers used locals in Kupwara as bonded labourers. "With the onset of militancy in the early 1990, the help of security forces was sought to combat militancy. As they were not aware of the topography of the area, they took assistance of the local inhabitants in the initial stages. There were complaints that the security forces used to take some of the inhabitants of the areas for night patrolling and other duties. The matter is being looked into," Sagar said.
Engineer Rasheed asked the Minister if the Government had taken any steps to compensate the victims. "We have sought a report from the GOC 15 corps and as soon as it is received, we will process the cases," Sagar replied.
Sagar said the Government has registered 19 FIRs against the troopers and cops in various Police Stations against whom allegations of unprovoked firing or use of excessive force were made. "Challan has been filed in one case and investigation is other cases in going on," Sagar said.