Autopsy of Kashmir probes

And, when an enquiry report is concealed sometimes in the garb of so-called national interest and at times for shielding the men in uniform, questions about its credibility do arise.
Autopsy of Kashmir probes
Representational Pic

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been preferred to make government to make the findings of probe into 2010 killings public.  This is how the authorities have been concealing the truth in this neglected land. And, this has not happened for the first time.  Ninety-nine percent probes ordered by the government in major incidents and rights violations have met the same fate.

Nineteen months after Justice (R) ML Koul completed the probe into 2010 killings and handed over his report to the Chief Minister, the findings have not been made public for reasons best known to the authorities. Even the victim families were denied copy of the report.  The father of Tufail Mattoo approached the retired justice for a copy of the report but it was denied for trivial reasons. He was told that the report comprised hundreds of pages and could not, therefore, be given to him. He even offered to pay the Xerox charges but all in vain.

The very object of the enquiry commissions is to ensure transparency. And, when an enquiry report is concealed sometimes in the garb of so-called national interest and at times for shielding the men in uniform, questions about its credibility do arise. 

The aggrieved people have been forced to seek judicial intervention. This perhaps is the first petition of its kind where a direction is being sought for urging the government to make the findings of a probe public. This reflects the credibility of the probes ordered by the authorities here.

Thousands of probes have been ordered to establish truth since 1947. Most of the probes were never completed.  And, whenever a probe was completed, the findings were never made public. The truth, therefore, has been a casualty in Kashmir from the very beginning.

A probe was ordered into theft of Holy Relic from Hazratbal Shrine in December, 1963. The people of Kashmir are waiting for the findings to this day.  

The Pakistan Prime Minister Zulifkar Ali Bhutto urged the Kashmiris to observe general strike on February 28 in protest against the accord. The Peoples League activists including Bulla, Ghulam Hassan alais Karanti and Abdul Razaq had published posters to make Bhutto's call a success. They were pasting the posters on walls, electric poles and government buildings in Sopore on February11,1975. 

Meanwhile, the police swung into action and arrested Bulla and Ghulam Hassan while Razaq managed escape. Bulla suffered from epilepsy and got an attack immediately after his arrest. Ghulam Hassan requested the police to give him medicine. The police, however, ignored the request and sent him to Central Jail, Srinagar same day. Bulla's woes did not end in the jail as

well. The torture continued and Bulla fell seriously ill. Instead of providing medicare to him, the jail authorities perpetually tortured him.

Finally, the incessant torture proved fatal and Bulla succumbed on February 15. The police, on the same night, knocked at the door of Ghulam Rasool Kar. The scared   family   members were taken to the graveyard. Besides a large number of policemen, eleven members of the family participated in his funeral. In the morning, the shocking news spread like wild fire in the town. The entire Sopore town came out in protest and sought an impartial probe. The government was forced to appoint Mohan Singh, the then SDM Srinagar as enquiry officer, but the police prevented people from appearing before the commission.

The then SHO Handwara presented scores of people before the commission. All of them tried to bail out the police.  The commission, however, has not made its findings public till date. One day the concerned deputy commissioner, Abdul Hamid Banihali, called on the aggrieved family and offered relief. The family, however, did not accept the relief.

Dr Farooq Abdullah returned to power in 1996 after six years of hibernation in England. During his tenure he ordered as many as 40 probes into human rights abuses but all in vain. Following the massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora, the police claimed killing of five `foreign' militants involved in the massacre at Panchatalan in Anantnag district. The DNA samples of the slain youth were taken to ascertain their identity when the people contested the police claims. The reports were fudged.

Dr Farooq responded by making a suo motto statement in the Legislative Assembly. He said Justice G A Kuchey will hold inquiry into the matter and submit his report within two months. Most probably, Justice Kuchay `forgot' to complete the probe.

Since then around three hundred probes have been ordered.  Action has been taken in sixteen cases only which includes two cases where the guilty were `punished' with promotion. The people, by and large believe that probes are ordered to quell public uproar. By ordering a probe, the government not only deflects the pressure but also puts up a clean image before the people.

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