Condemning "brutal" use of pellet guns and excessive force on protesters across Kashmir, senior Peoples Democratic Party leader and Member Parliament Muzaffar Hussain Baig on Thursday said he was doubtful over the "operation" in which Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed.
Local news agency KNS quoted Baig as saying: "To my knowledge and reports, the operation in which Burhan was killed was against a ruling of the Supreme Court. A constitution bench of the apex court, consisting of five judges and headed by chief justice, has given the judgment about the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) while carrying out operations even when AFSPA is in force."
Baig, a legal luminary, said: "The judgment had been given by the apex court in response to Nagaland Human Rights Forum's petition. However, in Burhan's killing, the apex court judgement appears to have been violated. According to a claim of an Army General that the operation ended in just 3.5 minutes, the militants were apparently not given the offer to surrender."
Asked what the apex court judgement states, the PDP MP said: "Wherever the army or police goes for any operation they have to take a magistrate along. Then in the presence of the magistrate, the militants have to be appealed in local language to surrender. If the militants refuse to surrender, then tear-gas has to be used so that militants are forced to leave the place where they are hiding. If this doesn't work, then militants have to be warned again. Then the forces have to shoot them on lower parts of the body."
"In just 3.5 minutes of operation, how were all these SOPs followed? It is clear that the apex court guidelines have been violated in Burhan's killing which is a serious offense," he said.
The PDP leader asked his party president and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to appoint a high-level commission to probe "why forces violated the apex court guidelines."
"I am against all forms of violence, whether it is perpetuated by youth or the government forces. It has been seen that the main reason for spreading militancy (sic) is when government or its forces violate the rule of law. The incident (Burhan killing) will not decrease the militancy but promote it," he said.
Baig claimed that Chief Minister was perhaps not taken into confidence on Burhan gunfight. "Had the Chief Minister been informed about the proposed operation, she would naturally have taken into consideration various facts and issued appropriate directions to carry it out with minimum collateral damage and in accordance with the law. She would have taken into consideration that the operation against Burhan could have serious and wide-raging consequences especially when the Amarnath yatra is on and the tourist season is at its apex."
"It is one thing to kill a militant in an encounter when there is firing from both sides and it is a different thing to kill him without following the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court and without giving an opportunity to the militant to surrender," he said.
Baig hoped that Chief Minister will investigate the facts and take action against officials found having flouted the rule of law and created a situation where an unprecedented number of about 1400 people have been injured, hundreds of youth have lost their eyesight and dozens have died in a single-day operation.