Saturday, November 21, 2009

FLASHBACK NOV., 22, 1868 - WHEN ROBERT THORP GAVE HIS LIFE FOR KASHMIR CAUSE

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dated November 22, 2009 by Zahir-ud-DinRobert Thorp gives his life for Kashmir
Robert Thorp was the first person to question the sale deed of Amritsar. According to him, the British government had committed a wanton outrage and injustice by handing over Kashmir to the unjust Maharaja. This cost Thorp his life.
On November 22, 1868, a body was recovered from Srinagar. The deceased was later identified as Robert Thorp. Poisoning, the people believed, was the cause of death. Thorp was laid to rest at Sheikh Bagh Christian graveyard. It took the locals some time to realize that with the death of Thorp, a strong pro-Kashmir voice had fallen silent. Kashmir had lost their savior. The epitaph reads: “Obit- Robert Thorp- Veritas- He gave his life for Kashmir.”
Thorp’s mother, Jana was a Kashmiri and lived with her family at Sugen Yarinar in Budgam district. Robert Thorp’s father, E-Thorp was an officer in the British army and would come to Jana’s village very often. One day when Jana was herding her buffaloes, Thorp saw her. He fell in love with her. Jana’s relative, Habibullah Teli was a soldier in the British army. Thorp approached Teli and he consented to their marriage. Jana’s descendents, who still live in the village, say Thorp embraced Islam and the marriage was solemnized near a rock in the village. Jana was taken to England by her husband. After some time Robert Thorp was born.
In 1865, Thorp, a young army officer visited Kashmir. Foreigners could not stay in Valley for more than two months. 37-year old Thorp stayed longer to study the appalling condition of the people of his mother’s birthplace. He raised his voice at the time when there was total sanction on information reaching the government of India. Thorp took it on himself to inform and educate the British people about the situation in Kashmir by writing to the British Press without caring for consequences. Thorp felt the British were responsible for the plight of Kashmiris, as it was they who had sold it to the Maharaja under the “Treaty of Amritsar.”
Later, Thorp published a book titled “Kashmir Misgovernment” and dedicated it to the people who, according to him “do not approve of cruelties upon human beings, and to those who are exalted from the moral, religious and social point of view and do not like oppression”.
Thorp was ordered to leave Kashmir. Undeterred, Thorp returned to Srinagar on November 21, 1868, and next morning after the breakfast he died, possibly because of poisoning. Thorp was found dead on the Suleman Taing Hill.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flashback Bijbehara: October 22, 1993

When 40 persons fell to the bullets of ruthless forces at Bijbehara
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt October 22nd, 2009 by Zahir-ud-DinSrinagar, Oct 21: On October 22, 1993, the Indian border guards (BSF men) deployed in Bijbehara on Srinagar-Jammu highway fired on peaceful and unarmed protestors, who had taken to roads to protest against the siege of Hazratbal shrine. At least 40 persons were killed in the BSF firing. It was Friday and after finishing the congregational prayers around 15000 people assembled in the courtyard of Jamia Masjid, Bijbehara to register their protest against the siege of Hazratbal shrine by army. A procession was taken out, which marched through various streets. As the processionsts, who were demanding end to siege reached the Goriwan locality, they were intercepted by BSF men, who blocked the roads. Without any provocation, the BSF men fired indiscriminately on the unarmed protestors, killing at least 37 persons on spot and injuring more than 200 others. The firing continued for nearly 10 minutes and troops targeted the crowd and those, who lay injured on the ground.No ambulances or medical staff was allowed access to the injured persons although hospital was only few yards away from the site of the massacre. According to doctors posted in the hospital, most of the people could have been saved had the ambulances and medical aid been allowed to reach the victims. Later, when people managed to shift some of the injured to hospital, the BSF men even fired on them inside the hospital complex, killing and injuring more people.Police later registered an FIR No 90/93 under section 302 and 307 RPC. However, no arrest was effected.The official version claimed that the Bijbehara killings were consequence of militant firing on a road-opening party of troops. This theory of militant attack was readily accepted by two premier Indian news agencies, which falsely carried news stories that many of the dead were militants and involved in various killings and attacks on the paramilitary forces. These false news reports were carried and given prominent space by all the Indian newspapers and other media outlets.Soon after the news of the massacre went out, Indian government barred independent local and international media persons from entering the town. On October 23, 1993 when large number of local and foreign media persons converged on the town, the army used violence and shot in air to stop them from visiting the old side of the town and the newly dug ‘martyrs graveyard’. The army men even attacked mourners, who were burying the dead in the graveyard.
The Inquiry report, vide number EN/BFC/93/23-24, prepared by the Inquiry Magistrate and submitted to the government on 13th November, concluded that firing on the procession was absolutely unprovoked and the claim made by the security forces that they fired in self defence after militant firing is baseless and concocted.
The inquiry report further stated that the security personnel have committed offence out of vengeance and their barbarous act was deliberate and well planned. The report indicted Deputy Commandant of BSF JK Radola for tacit approval given by him to indiscriminate and un-provoked firing.After sixteen years, the victims are still awaiting justice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rawathpora remembers Rashid on second anniversary


Courtesy: Daily Greater Kashmir dated Oct., 20th, 2009 by SHAHID RAFIQ
Rawathpora (Kupwara), Oct 19: Rawathpora village in this frontier district Monday remembered Abdul Rashid Mir, 25, on his second death anniversary. On October 19, 2007 Mir was allegedly shot dead by a road opening party of army led by a subedar of 46 AD, after he had several times resisted the moves of army to taunt his female colleagues. People including teachers and his friends went to the graveyard where Mir was buried and offered fateh. They termed Mir a martyr of Kashmir struggle who sacrificed his life to save the honour and chastity of his two female colleagues.
“Rashid is a role model for every Kashmiri youth as he sacrificed his life to protect the dignity and chastity of his sisters” said Jawahira, his sister.
Mir was a first M. Sc Physics of the area and was working as a teacher in Government Middle School Marsary. Locals said that Mir had objected many a times to the absence comments passed by a subedar and other soldiers at his female colleagues. “He always used to accompany female colleagues so that army men won’t tease them on to their way to school and back home,” they said.
“But on October 19, 2007 Mir had to pay a price for it as he was shot dead by the troopers. On the fateful day Mir was returning alone after his duties and when he reached near the post he was shot dead. Army later claimed that the teacher was killed in accidental fire from a soldier’s rifle while being searched,” they added.
An FIR No-147/07,U/s 302 stands registered in police station Kralpora against Army’s 46 AD (Chowkibal based battalion) for killing the teacher. “Two years have passed but police is yet to charge sheet the accused. The killers of my son are roaming freely. Before my death I want to see the troopers responsible for my son’s cold blooded murder behind the bars,” demanded Rashid’s mother Zareefa. A middle rung police officer on the conditions of anonymity told Greater Kashmir that ‘case was not moving ahead as Army authorities were not cooperating with investigation team.’ “Despite several representations Army wasn’t ready to hand over duty log book of Oct 19, 2007 which contains the details of the troopers on road opening duty and name of their commander. We have recorded the statements of more than 22 eye-witnesses,” he added.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

On Oct. 1, Indian troopers massacred 22 civilians at Handwara

Handwara Remembers ’90 Massacre
Courtesy: Daily Greater Kashmir dt. October 1st, 2009 by UMER MAQBOOL DARHandwara, Sept 30: Twenty years on, the memories of Handwara massacre are still fresh in the minds of people and continue to haunt the survivors in this north Kashmir town. On October 1 in 1990, troopers of 13 Kumaon regiment and personnel of Border Security Force killed 22 civilians in cold blood and set the town ablaze, to avenge the killing of a BSF trooper by militants. Locals said it was a sunny day and people were busy in daily chores. A militant named Shabaz shot dead a BSF trooper in the market. “The BSF men in retaliation fired upon him, killing him on the spot,” said Nazir Ahmed, an eyewitness. “The soldiers of 13 Kumaon traveling in a convoy through the town went berserk and showered bullets on unarmed civilians and torched crops, shops and houses without any provocation,” he added. “The naked dance of death and destruction continued for more than an hour,” said Javid Ahmed, a local resident. The mere thought of that fateful day still sends shivers down the spine of the survivors. “When troopers tried to roast my brother alive, my mother resisted their attempts and tried to save him from their clutches. But they dragged her and pierced her body with bullets. After killing my mother they shot dead my brother also,” said Bashir Ahmed. “The troopers reduced the town to ashes by torching shops and houses indiscriminately,” he said. After the incident, police registered a case and assured the residents that erring troopers would be punished. A First Information Report was also registered against troopers of 13 Kumaon regiment. “There was no headway after the case was registered. We are waiting for the day when the killers would be punished. The government should reopen the case to hang the killers who snatched our beloved from us,” said a local resident.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Army vehicle crushes 7-yr-old Bandipora girl

Locals torch two RR vehicles
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt Sep., 8th, 2009 by Mir Tariq
Sumbal (Bandipora), 07 Sep: A seven-year-old girl was crushed to death by an Army vehicle here in Markundal village of Sumbal Bandipora when she was coming out of school.Following the incident, thousands of people staged protests on Srinagar–Ladakh highway and torched two vehicles of RR convoy which was moving toward Ladakh.
The girl, Insha Javid, was killed on-the-spot when she was hit by an Army vehicle while coming out of the school. Locals told Rising Kashmir that the army vehicle was moving at a fast speed and after crushing to the girl to death in Markundal fled from the spot. Immediately after the accident, thousands of people of Sumbal and adjoining villages took to rods and blocked the Srinagar-Ladakh highway at Sumbal and torched two RR vehicles. Locals demand immediate action against the erring troopers. It is the fifth such incident since May 2009 in which an Army vehicle crushed a pedestrian. No one among the erring drivers have been punished so far, officials source told Rising Kashmir. “Police is helpless before the Army,” he added.
Though the Senior Superintendent of Police Bandipora, Sheikh Junaid tried to pacify the mob, locals alleged police of “highhandedness”. Local said that instead of punishing troopers’, police used force against the children, women and elders demanding punishment to the troopers. “It is unfortunate that police is punishing innocent people who are being crushed by the Army vehicles. Police is acting as a mute spectator,” said Ghulam Hassan, an elderly person. Raising anti-Army and anti-police slogans, protestors were demanding actions against the erring army drivers who have killed four people in last three months in the district. Locals alleged that besides crushing a 7-year-old girl troopers forcibly snatched vehicles from the drivers and harassed people in the area and forced them to remain inside the houses.
“Troopers forcibly snatched our vehicle and forced us to remain inside the house. When we approached police on duty, they expressed their helplessness,” said Mushtaq Ahmed, a Tata Sumo driver. A huge contingent of police and CRPF were rushed to the area to restore law and order as the situation was tense. PDP candidate Yasir Rehsi tried to pacify the people following which the girl was buried. Yasir Reshi demand immediate action against the erring Army drivers and demanded relief in favour of the deceased. The movement of the Amy vehicles through Sumabl was halted after the incident took place.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Territorial army held responsible for killing a girl at Kupwara

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt September 6th, 2009 by Shahjehan Afzal
Kupwara, Sep 05: Holding Territorial Army man responsible for killing a girl at Dolipora Trehgam, police Saturday filed a charge sheet against the trooper in a local court. The girl identified Amina Masoodi, a BA final year student was found dead in mysterious circumstances inside her house during the night intervening July 08 and 09 this year. The incident evoked massive protest demonstrations with the locals and family members of the victim accusing Territorial Army trooper Ashiq Hussain of being involved in the incident. Police lodged an FIR no. 49/2009 under section 302,456,12B RPC and arrested the accused 160 TA trooper.“During the course of investigation, police questioned the eyewitnesses which confirmed the presence of accused Ashiq Hussain Peer in the house of the complainant during the intervening night 8/9 July. It was also confirmed that he was absent from the Army camp of 160 TA Bn during the said night,” SSP Kupwara He said police also recovered two cell phones bearing numbers 9797990180 and 9797226180 in the instant case. “The SMSs found in the “Inbox” of cell No. 9797226180 send from cell No 9797990180 further confirmed the presence of accused at the crime scene”.“After thorough investigation and considering all the evidences - Oral, documentary and circumstantial - offence under section 302, 458 RPC were made out against Ashiq Hussain Peer son of Noor-ud-Din Peer resident of Herri Payeen Kupwara of 160 Territorial Army and charge sheet was produced against the accused in the court of law,” said SSP Kuwpara, adding “Amina died because of Asphyxia and no symptoms of rape were found as per the FSL report”.
The police officer, however, ruled out the hand of army as an institution in the case. “The investigations revealed that army as an institution was not involved in the case as alleged,” he said.
The Inquiry Officer Shabir Ahmad Shah, who conducted the inquiry in record time and presented the challan and is presently posted as DSP (Hqrs) Shopian told Rising Kashmir: “We have got enough evidence to prove the TA trooper was guilty of the crime. Although he refuted his presence at the crime scene, but a mobile phone recovered at the scene of crime and some of the message exchanged between the victim and the accused established his presence. Besides, his scanned Identity Card, which was recovered from the spot also helped in establishing his presence at the crime scene. Some of the eyewitnesses had also seen him at the place where the girl was killed.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

20 yrs on, 3429 youth missing in JK: Govt

State has 26355 widows, 8612 orphans
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dated August 27th, 2009 by Abid Bashir
Srinagar, Aug 26: The government Wednesday revealed in Assembly that 3429 youth have gone missing in the State since 1990 while the number of orphans and widows stands at 26355 and 8612 respectively. The figures were given by the government in a written reply to a question posed by PDP MLA from Shopian, Abdur Razak Zawoora.
While releasing the figures, government said 3429 youth have gone missing in the State from 1990 till July 2009. “Of these 1062 disappeared from Kashmir while 2367 went missing from Jammu region”. About the number of widows and orphans, the government said there were 8612 widows and 26355 orphans in the State. “Of the 8612 widows, 2267 were the widows of militants, who were killed in different encounters and other incidents while 6345 women lost their husbands to different violence related incidents. Of the 26355 orphans, 20976 lost their family members to violence during the turmoil while 5379 were kins of slain militants.” In the written reply, government stated that the figures about orphans and widows came to fore after a survey was conducted by the Rehabilitation Council to ascertain the number of widows and orphans in the State. “Anganwadi workers supervised by supervisors were part of the survey conducted by the rehabilitation council, which worked under Social Welfare department”.The figures about missing youth were attributed to the home department and not to the survey. To a question posed by the MLA whether government had taken any step to rehabilitate the violence affected victims, the government said, “The rehabilitation council has been rehabilitating the victims of violence in various ways. Widows are getting Rs 750 as monthly pension since April 4, 2008. Besides, the government is also paying marriage assistance to young widows, who want to re-marry.”Talking to Rising Kashmir Minister of Social Welfare, Sakeena Itoo said the Social Welfare department provides marriage assistance not only to the young widows but to the daughters of widows who have attained the marriage age. “All widows collect their monthly pension through banks and as far as the marriage assistance is concerned, once the family is identified, we pay them through cheques,” she said.She said the government also pays scholarships to school going orphans. “In cities, Rs 800 are being paid as scholarships to the school going orphans,” the minister said.About the number of jobs provided under SRO 43 since 2003, the government said 3919 people have been provided the jobs. “Of these, 1116 people were provided jobs in Jammu while 2803 youth got jobs under SRO43 in Kashmir,” the government said adding, “1354 job applications under SRO 43 were pending”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SHRC RECIEVED HIGHER NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS OF HR VIOLATIONS IN JK DURING 2007-08

COURTESY:Daily Greater Kashmir dated August 12th, 2009 by Arif Shafi/Mudassir Ali
Srinagar, Aug 11: The State Human Rights Commission has received the highest number of complaints of human rights violations during the 2007-08. This was stated in Annual Report of the SHRC which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday. In it, the Commission states that it had received 716 complaints in 2007-08, which was the highest number. Out of 716 complaints, 90 were of harassment, 81 disappearances and 39 custodial killings and seven rape cases respectively.
The report states that the SHRC had disposed of 596 cases with recommendations for ex-gratia relief and compassionate appointment in 169 cases. It states that since its inception in 1997, the Commission had received 51, 227, 309, 395, 474, 482, 575, 406, 312 and 336 cases respectively till 2007. “The ever increasing number of complaints registered in the Commission testifies the growing awareness and determination of people of the state to defend their rights and faith in the Commission,” the report states. The reports states that there was wide gap between the post of the Commission’s administrative officer and secretary. “It creates tremendous difficulties while carrying out the function of the Commissions.”
It states that the Act envisages that the Commission should have its own staff. “But practically, this provision has been kept in cold storage. The government has provided maximum staff from the Administrative Department virtually on deputation.” The Commission expressed its “disappointment and anguish” for what it termed as an attempt of brushing aside its recommendation by some officers in the Civil Secretariat by starting fresh enquiry at their end after they receive the recommendations. The report states that it received letters from the officers wherein, the Commission was informed that they have chosen to contradict its findings. “This exercise is supervisory and uncalled for. This tendency has the effect of diluting the position of the Commission which if not restricted will terribly tell upon the governance of the state. The Commission strongly recommends that the government should issue a circular to these officers not to sit in judgment against the findings of the Commission.” The Commission resented the lack of facilities, including denial of legal aid, to the detainees lodged in various jails in Jammu. After inspection of Kothbalwal, Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur jails, the Commission states that the detainees and under-trials deposed that they were not produced before Courts. The Commission recommended that the government should ensure that the district administration, especially SSPs of the districts, should be bound strictly to provide transport facilities to the respective jails for production of detainees in courts.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mason shot at by troopers at Kupwara

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt August 10th, 2009 by Wasim Khalid
Srinagar August 9: Massive late night protests broke out in North Kashmir’s Kupwara after a man was allegedly shot at by the troopers outside his home. The villagers told Rising Kashmir that the incident happened at around 10.30 pm in Chak Keegam village, Dragmulla in border district of Kupwara when a person Ghulam Ahmad Magay was shot at by army personnel. “Magray was returning to home on a bike,” a villager, Bashir Ahmad said. “As soon he reached the gate of his house, the trooper fired at him. He fell on the ground”. Ahmad said, “After hearing screams of Magray, the villagers came out of their houses. Seeing large number of people rushing towards the area, the troopers fled from the spot”. “We shifted him to district hospital Kupwara, where from doctors referred him to Srinagar hospital for specialized treatment,” he said. The villagers said, later, army commander visited the village and tried to pacify the angry villagers. “However, after witnessing the rage, he fled back,” Ahmad said. The villagers have kept the lone empty cartridge with them. After the incident, massive demonstrations took place with the people raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. When contacted defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar said he has go no information of the incident. SSP Kupwara Uttam Chand told Rising Kashmir that Magray, a mason by profession, is out of danger. “He will survive as the bullet has hit his left forearm. He has been shifted to Srinagar hospital,” added SSP.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

India's police undermine democracy, human rights: International Human Rights Watch

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dated August 5th, 2009
New Delhi, Aug 04: India's police discriminate against people on the basis of caste and financial status and consider themselves above the law, undermining the country's democratic ideals, a leading human rights group said on Tuesday.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report that Indian police also stood accused of illegally detaining crime suspects, torturing them and even carrying out extra-judicial killings in custody with impunity. The report collated from interviews with about 80 policemen of various ranks and victims of police atrocities said several officers admitted in private that suspects were often tortured and beaten to extract confessions.In one case, a woman suspect was killed in custody and her killing was passed off as suicide. She was found hanging from a tree, the report said.In other instances, suspects have been tied to wooden sticks and tortured by turning them upside down until they fainted, the group said in the report titled Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse and Impunity in the Indian Police.“India's status as the world's largest democracy is undermined by a police force that thinks it is above the law,” Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, said. India's junior Home Minister Ajay Maken told parliament on Tuesday that the government was moving to address the issue of police atrocities, including supporting judicial investigations into every suspected custodial death. Official figures showed 23 policemen were charged with atrocities since 2005, but none has been convicted.
Adams said Indians avoided contact with police out of fear because they perceived them as discriminating on the basis of caste and financial and social status.
Colonial-era police laws also enable politicians to interfere, manipulating police to have investigations dropped against influential people and to harass or file false charges. “These practices corrode public confidence," Adams said in a statement. In 2006, the country's Supreme Court ordered reforms in the police force, but the central government and state governments have failed to comply, the group said. “It's time for the government to stop talking about reform and fix the system,” Adams said.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Stone cutter rendered like a stone below chest


Courtesy: Daily Greater Kashmir dt July 31st, 2009Varmul, July 30: When, after firing at him in the back, policemen kept hitting him with bamboo sticks and rifle butts, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, a stone cutter of Khadniyar village near here, felt death was imminent. Today, he prays for it. He cries the moment his wife turns and repositions his body to prevent bed sores.“On June 19, there was complete shutdown in the town in response to the Varmul chalo call of the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Some stray incidents of stone pelting had taken place in the morning. But, when I was walking near the Cement bridge, Varmul, on my way to my workplace, a stone quarry at Khanpora, there was no clash and the atmosphere was quiet. Still, they (police) fired at me. I felt total numbness below the chest. Only when my arms fell over the legs did I feel these were in tact, but lifeless,” Manzoor told Greater Kashmir at his home.“Even after firing at me, the police men kept hitting me with gun butts and lathis before lifting me in their vehicle,” Manzoor said, adding they rushed him to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, Srinagar.“The bullet, which is still lodged in my spinal chord, has paralyzed me chest down for life,” Manzoor said, adding that after a 6-hour operation, the doctors had decided against removing the bullet from my body as it would further damage my torn spinal chord.” He was the sole breadwinner of the family comprising his wife and aged father. “Who is going to take care of them,” he asked. Manzoor’s father, Ghulam Mohi-ud-din, is worried too. At a time when he could have expected his only son to take care, he has to look after the cripple throughout his life.“I don’t have the money to buy a wheelchair for my paralyzed son. Some injections cost about Rs 2500 each and he needs several shots of these. There is nobody to help us out,” he told Greater Kashmir. “What sin had my son committed that even after shooting at him, our own policemen beat him up with their canes and rifle butts,” Mohi-ud-din asked, adding that he had left home in search of bread for the family and was not even remotely connected with the violent incidents that had taken place in the town earlier in the day. He said there was no hope for the family as it had virtually lost the sole bread earner.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Flashback: July 26th, 1980 - A tale of brutal army raid on Lal Chowk

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt July 26th, 2009 by Abdul Mohamin
Srinagar, July 25: Twenty nine years on, the memories of a fateful afternoon still haunt Ghulam Nabi Pandav, Chairman of Tourist Taxi Stand No 2 situated in the busy Lal Chowk. It was 26 July 1980, Pandav recalls, when army personnel stormed the city center and within few hours left with a trail of wholesale beating and arson behind them.
“Some top state police officials were also beaten during the historical army raid from Lal Chowk to Dalgate,” recounts Pandav. “It was all peace, Kashmir was booming with tourism. But the Indian Army men set ablaze scores of our vehicles and damaged dozens others. I still remember the Ambassador Cars bearing Registration No 151, 469, 725 and 903 were set ablaze.”
The Trigger
The trouble, according to still alive eyewitnesses, started when an army vehicle on way to Tattoo Ground, a huge army formation near Batamaloo, collided with another civilian vehicle near Tourist Reception Centre. The driver fled the scene but locals apprehended him. His fellow army men went to the barracks and within no time army streamed in droves and went on a beating spree. I saw people bleeding enmasse and whole of Lal Chowk being turned upside down as the army men shattered everything that came their way inflicting losses to the civilian property worth cores of rupees.
The Tragedy
Pandav says that the army men were so harsh in their raid on people that the local police proved helpless. “Shops were damaged but vehicles were the main target. Police wasn’t able to control the situation. Even the then Superintendent of Police, Ali Muhammad Watali survived a fatal blow.” Ali Muhammad Watali, who retired as DIG in 1989, terms 26 July 1980 as “the most sensitive incident” in whole of his police career.
“I was posted as SP City only a day before the incident,” recollects Watali. On the fateful day Watali, as he narrates the incident, was on his way home when he saw an army vehicle at Lal Chowk having got involved in a motor accident. “As I moved toward my home at Karan Nagar, I directed the then DSP Javaid Makhdoomi (retired as IGP Hqrs in 2008) over wireless that he should handle the case as per the law. Later I came to know that the army had let loose a rein of terror in the city beating and ransacking people. Initially I couldn’t connect the Army atrocities in the city to the earlier accident involving the Indian Army vehicle. On reaching Budshah Chowk I saw an army convoy coming toward Lal Chowk from Tattoo Ground where the Army Supply Corps was stationed. We stopped a vehicle and argued with an Army Captain not to take law in their hands but he didn’t listen. The troopers were targeting vehicles and shopkeepers and beating civilians ruthlessly”
When, Watali goes on to recall, “the police party reached near Taj Hotel, I tried to save a boy who the army men had pounced upon. The moment I told them that I was a police officer they responded hitting me with canes. One of the blows left me unconscious and in a pool of blood. Locals somehow managed to shift me to a hospital.”
In the hospital, Watali was shocked to see Javaid Makhdoomi among the injured.
The Truth
Later an Administrative Committee probed the incident but termed the incident a “quarrel” between army and civilians. “This was never the case,” Watali rues, “I don’t know how Indian Army let loose its men. I don’t know what happened to the Court of Inquiry formulated by the Indian Army to probe the incident.”
Ghulam Nabi Jogi, who then was a fresher among the professional drivers, says: “The crisis ended only after a divine intervention in the shape of a cloud burst. Indian Army had plans to set the entire city ablaze. They had brought enough petrol with them. The last show was to take place at Batamaloo. The area from Lal Chowk to Gagribal (near Nehru Park) was ransacked. Rains spoiled the angry army men’s plans as it forced them back into the barracks.”
The Twist
Abdul Qayoom Shah is yet another eyewitness to this wholesale arson and beating incident. Says he, “The army atrocities on that day sent people thinking over the accord Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah had signed with New Delhi.” The following day, according to Shah, Sheikh appeared in Lal Chowk atop a bus and addressed people. He demonstrated his anger against Indian army and New Delhi. Thus he managed to defuse the volatile situation and promised compensation for the victims. Pandav, the Taxi Stand Chief, confirms that then government later gave compensation to the victims whose vehicles where set ablaze.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Human Rights Activist Sodomised in Delhi's Tihar Jail

‘ICRC doesn’t report what they see’
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt July 19th, 2009 by Ishfaq Tantry
Srinagar, July 18: Narrating the inhuman torture meted out to Kashmiris languishing in Tihar jail, human rights activist Mohammad Ahsan Untoo who was arrested by special Cell of Delhi Police in 2005 and released recently alleged he was even “sodomised” in Tihar jail.“Police officials inside the jail asked one elderly sweeper to sodomise me, while I was tied with ropes with my belly touching ground. It was so humiliating,” said Untoo while speaking to newsmen in Rajbagh Srinagar during a press conference organised by People’s Rights Movement, an organization fighting to stop torture in Kashmir.He alleged that detainees are ordered to insert their private parts into the mouth of other Kashmiri detainees and the same was repeated with him. Untoo showed two cavities inside his mouth with teeth missing. He alleged that these teeth were broken during his torture in Tihar.“Not only this,” narrates Untoo “they put rodents, frogs and bees into my dress after tying it with a thin rope around my ankles, abdomen, and neck. It was the cruellest form of physical torture I endured in Dhula Kuan Police station.” Describing his ordeal he said: “During torture they accused me of my making a bid on the life of Prof SAR Geelnai. I was shocked to hear this. Even they asked me to sign a blank paper.”
He added “From 56 days from December 30 to February 26, I was detained and tortured in police station Dhula Kuan and 26 February 2005 I was shifted to Tihar Jail.”
Untoo claimed: “Despite being an under-trail. I was made to sweep and clean gutters, toilets and sewers inside Tihar jail on regular basis. Challan was produced against me after three months but during these months no legal aid was available to me.”
Untoo added that in Tihar Jail he came across many Kashmiri detainees who were tortured and humiliated by Dhula Kuna police cops. He said that the basement cell is specifically meant for Kashmiris where they are tortured. Taking a dig at the role of International Committee for Red Cross, Untoo said: “ICRC presence inside Tihar did not make any difference. They did not report what they see. It is unfortunate. I narrated to them I was sodomised and tortured inside the Tihar when they visited us in March and August 2006. But they didn’t report it.” He further added, “When I told the story to the Judge in the Trail Court No 38, she asked me to produce the evidence that I was sodomised. It shocked me.” Untoo thanked the role played by senior Delhi lawyer and HR activist Nandita Haksar, Gautam Navlakha and Parvez Imroz for making the much needed legal aid available to him. “I owe my freedom to these persons.” Untoo was finally released on 2 July 2009.He was arrested in 30 December 2004 from Priya Guest House in Daryagunj and was taken to Lodhi Colony and then shifted to Dhulla Kuan Police station.He appealed International human rights organizations to “help stop torture on the Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri detainees lodged in Tihar Jail and detention Centres in and outside Jammu and Kashmir.”
On the other hand speaking during the press conference, PRM President Abdul Qadeer Dar said, “Untoo’s story is one of the thousand s of torture stories of Kashmir witnessed during the past 20 years.” He said: “PRM wants to document the torture practised over the past 20 years by troopers and police in Kashmir and outside over Kashmiris detainees.” He added that that a legal aid cell which includes Nandita Haksar, Gautam Navlakha, Parvez Imroz, and Ahsan Untoo, PRM and other human rights activists has been formed by them to provide much needed legal help to different Kashmiri detainees.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

'Jan Commission's purpose of Shopian inquiry defeated'

Courtesy: Zee News dated July 12th, 2009

New Delhi, July 12: Justice Muzaffar Ahmad Jan probing the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday accepted that the very purpose of the Commission was defeated as prime culprits were still not identified.

"I feel sorry. If the culprit was apprehended then of course it would have been a complete success. You cannot create evidence. You have to wait. Commission does compel anyone to depose," Jan told reporters in a telephonic interview.

He was answering to a question whether the purpose of the Commission was defeated as prime culprits were yet to be identified.

He also chose to distance himself from some annexures in his report, questioning the behaviour of brother and husband of Neelofar -one of the victims, which generated controversy in the valley.

"That is not my report...Unfortunately...what has happened is that the investigating team, our police investigating team have also prepared their investigating report which I did not accept, which I did not take on record, which I did not include in the main report," he said when asked about some portions of his report which generated anger in the valley.

When asked specifically why he submitted those annexures if they were not part of his report, Jan tried to defend himself saying,"...that is all right annexures were there but I have not incorporated anything in the report. You see, if somebody puts up an application before the court, the court keeps the application on the file. We don't clear off the application. The fact is that we have not taken anything from the report."

"You see there are number of other annexures with the report...Investigating authority has submitted a list of 60 witnesses examined by them. Along with that report, which is his report, saying that investigations on these lines could be conducted. I had nothing further to do with the investigations. I did not adopt the report," he further clarified.

When asked why he did not leave a note of dissent in his report, Justice Jan said it was a one man commission so there was no question of any dissent.

He also said prime culprits could not be nailed because initially evidence was "destroyed" which could be attributed to "negligence" of the investigating police officers.

"Evidence was not collected when it was available, when it could have been detected then ultimately the evidence is destroyed. It can be attributed to negligence also," he said.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Inquiry report indicts army for murdering Kupwara’s Fayaz tailor

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dated July 8th, 2009 by Shahjahan Afzal
Kupwara, July 07: Police has indicted troops of 18 RR in the February 1, 2009 killing of a Kupwara tailor Fayaz Ahmad Mir while the family members of the victim have demanded immediate punishment to the guilty troopers. Fayaz, 28, was killed at Zab Khurhama Lolab area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district outside his residence.
Referring to the report his office obtained from Dy SP Kupwara vide his office Letter No 09-2221 dated 29 April 2009, SP Kupwara in his verification report to Deputy Commissioner Kupwara vide Letter No Confi-2A/09-467 dated 4 May 2009 mentions that Fayaz was killed by troops of Army’s 18 RR unit on February 1, 2009 at Zab Khurhama. In his letter, the SP writes that the deceased Fayaz, or any of his close relatives, was not involved in any kind of subversive (anti-national) activities.
He mentions that as per the records of the concerned police station no criminal case stands registered against Fayaz. Meanwhile, Fayaz’s family has demanded stern punishment against the guilty troopers. Fayaz’s mother Saja Begum said: “Fayaz’s last words were that six army men fired at him from point blank.” She denounced the army’s claim that Fayaz was killed in relentless firing of militants. “There was neither any cross firing incident nor any movement of militants,” she said. “Chief Minister Omar Abdullah should personally intervene and ensure that the guilty troopers are hanged publicly.” Fayaz is survived by his wife Tahira, 24, and four children Irfan, 9, Javaid, 8, Nida Jan, 7, and Saqib. The family lives in a shabby two-room hut. “My children trouble me posing questions about their father,” Tahira said. “I remember the days when I would be upset and Fayaz would console me. Now there is no one to console me.” The family members said they have suffered immensely at the hands of troopers. Fayaz’s paternal uncle Zia Mir was killed allegedly by army who tied a bomb around him at Khorhama Chowk, they said. Zia was working as a porter with Army’s Kuligam post and, according to the family, had refused to obey army’s diktats. Police had registered a case vide FIR No 03/09 Under Section 302 of RPC and started investigation to establish the circumstances that led to the killing of Fayaz.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

NOTED INDIAN HISTORIAN DESCRIBES KASHMIR AS "A BLOT ON INDIAN DEMOCRACY"

Courtesy: Daily Kashmir Images dated July 5th, 2009
Srinagar, July 04: A noted Indian historian has rubbed India hard for its track-record in Kashmir describing Kashmir as a “big blot on India’s democracy”. Ramachandra Guha, the Bangalore-based historian and biographer, while delivering the fifth Nehru memorial Lecture 2009 on "Democracy and Violence in South Asia and Beyond" at the Nehru Centre in London on Friday night, compared the Sri Lanka’s handling of Tamils issue with India’s handling of Kashmir. Drawing a parallel between the violence in Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Sri Lanka, Guha who has previously taught at the Universities of Yale and Stanford, said, "Just as Kashmir is a big blot on India's democracy, the treatment of Tamils is a signal failure of Sri Lankan democracy. "As in Kashmir, the problem arose because of denial of democracy's software and hardware - elections were rigged both in Kashmir and Northern Sri Lanka," he said, adding "cultural pluralism in terms of language, in terms of dress, in terms of faith is a serious part of democracy." Patrick French, a noted writer presided over the function, which was attended by the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee. Highlighting the merits of cultural pluralism, Guha warned against the discrimination on the basis of language or religion. He said he wanted India to be a "more contented and less violent place”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

‘Pain will ease only when culprits are hanged’


Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir by Shabir Ali

Shopian, June 24: Terming the suspension of five government officials as mere eyewash, brother of teenage Asiya and husband of Neelofar, Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar Wednesday said that his pain will ease only after culprits are hanged.
The pain of loosing dear ones in such a brutal way can only be felt by those possessing the human heart. The suspension or arrest of the culprits and those who tried to shield them cannot ease my pain but seeing all of them hanged before my eyes can give me a bit of relief," said Ahanger. He said that suspension of the officials who destroyed the evidence of the rape and murder of his sister and wife to shield the culprits ‘is no punishment but eyewash to pacify the public anger’. Alleging the authorities of trying to hush up the case by causing unnecessary delay in booking the culprits he said: "Had government been sincere in punishing the persons involved in the heinous crime they would have put police behind the bars instead of placing them under mere suspension." He said that the police officials would not have even been suspended had the public not mounted pressure on the government. “But the police officials even after being found involved in shielding the culprits were given the same punishment as is given to the government employee for remaining absent from the duty,” said Ahanger. Shakeel also accused the police of subjecting him to severe mental torture by summoning him daily to police station for questioning. "They subject me to the mental torture by asking me the same questions I have been answering since the day my sister and wife were brutally murdered."Besides knowing that my sister and wife were left with torn clothes and bruised by the beasts they ask me the questions like how was the condition of my wife and sister at the moment their bodies were recovered thus adding to my pain," Shakeel added

Thursday, June 18, 2009

JKCHR expresses concern on PSA abuse

Courtesty: Rising Kashmir News
London, June 18: London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights Thursday expressed serious concern on the abuse of authority by a section of State administration in Jammu and Kashmir.Expressing its concern on the arrest and detention of juveniles under PSA, Secretary General JKCHR Dr Syed Nazir Gilani said the alleged arrest of a 14-year-old under PSA does not reflect well on the core ability of the civil administration to serve the interests of the State in the collective welfare of its people. It seems that the administrative habitat in Kashmir has not moved beyond the repressive culture of September 1931, when people were incarcerated as ‘turbulent persons’ by the Maharaja government.
Gilani said the powers exercised by police under PSA was a grim reminder of Maharaja’s Notification on 24 September 1931 providing for the “conferment of Special Powers upon certain...officers for suppression of disorder and the restoration and maintenance of law and order” in the State.JKCHR Secretary General said that the authority of the elected government to govern is the freely expressed will and confidence of the people. “If it fails to conserve the trust of the people and fails to respect their basic rights, the core basis of governance is vitiated.”
Commenting on other arrests under PSA, Gilani said that a prisoner or a detainee does not lose his or her human rights. “Treatment of such people is the real litmus test of a decent and law abiding administration.”Gilani cautioned the officials involved in such arrests that if they fail in their duty to fairness they might have incurred a criminal liability for the abuse of their authority, which embeds very serious consequences for the offending officers.

Military, executive undermine judiciary in Kashmir: US law school report

Courtesy: Rising Kashmir News
Srinagar, June 18: United States based Yale Law School report has said that cases against the troopers are rarely given any judgement in Kashmir as military and executive officials often act to undermine the efficiency and equity of the court system.“The failures of Kashmiri legal system are not solely responsibility of the judiciary, as military and executive officials often act to undermine the efficiency and equity of the court system,” the report observed.In a report "The Myth of Normalcy: Impunity and the Judiciary in Kashmir" in which it has examined the adequacy of legal process afforded to victims of human rights abuses bringing legal claims against the government here.The Lowenstein Clinic's report examined the existing legal process for two types of human rights claims: affirmative claims against the Indian military and habeas corpus petitions. These claims are rarely adjudicated, the report said.The report laid emphasis on how government officials systematically failed to investigate claims, refuse to participate in investigations and prosecutions, and ignore the contempt court orders of court attempting to force their participation in proceedings concerning human rights claims.It also highlights the government's disregard to its own standards governing detention, refuses to honour court orders, quashing detention, and exploits procedural impediments to avoid presenting detainees in the court. The Lowenstein Clinic report analyzes whether the Kashmiri judicial system operates in accordance with international human rights standards. It has exposed the urgent need for heightened attention to the shortcomings of the Kashmiri legal system.The report was prepared by a team of students of Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic produced at the request of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.

Monday, June 15, 2009

'Men in uniform are Kashmir's problem, not solution'

Courtesy: Times of India dt June 14th, 2009 by Sanjay KakThose who use the media filter to try to understand what is happening in Kashmir should realize they're looking at a shadow play. A curtain lies between events and us. What is played out on the screen depends on who manipulates the source of light.

Last summer, the Valley was overwhelmed by several months of unprecedented non-violent public protest. It was triggered by the complicated Amarnath land issue, but on the streets the people were saying "Hum kya chahte? Azadi!" We are hearing this again this summer, triggered by the rape and murder of two young women from Shopian in south Kashmir. Only the stone deaf could miss the cry.

Between these two summer uprisings came the Assembly elections of December. As everyone braced for a boycott, people did turn out to vote. This surprise turnout was presented as nothing short of a miracle and we were informed that this was "a vote for Indian democracy". Those who wondered why people who had braved bullets only a month ago should suddenly queue up to vote were reminded that Kashmiris were an unpredictable, even contrary, people.

In fact, there is a frightening consistence about the Kashmiri chant for decades: "Hum kya chahte? Azadi!" Protests have begun for all sorts of reasons but they are a manifestation of the simmering anger always close to the surface.

The current round of protests were given a head-start by the distinctly amateur vacillations of the state chief minister, not least his puzzling shifts on what may have actually happened to Nilofar, 22, and her sister-in-law Asiya, 17, on the night of May 29. Well-intentioned though he may be, Omar Abdullah seems very badly advised, or else possessed of a political death-wish.

In its election campaign the National Conference made a point of underlining that it was seeking a mandate for development, for bijli, sadak, pani. It made no claim to settling masla-e-Kashmir or the Kashmir issue. But once the elections were over, they went along with the Indian establishment, which trumpeted the turnout as a decisive mandate in India's favour. The inability of Omar Abdullah's government to reach out to the people of the Valley in the past fortnight is a timely reminder of the dangers of that delusion. In just a little over 10 days, the protests have damaged the patina of normalcy that the election 'success' painted on a deeply troubled situation.

In the middle of all this, but almost buried by events, the J&K police announced the arrest of Constable Nazir Ahmed of the India Reserve Police battalion for allegedly raping a minor girl in Baramulla in north Kashmir. (They admitted the constable was a former Personal Security Officer of Ghulam Hassan Mir, legislator and former minister). Days after the incident, a scuffle between the families of the victim and the policeman led to the tragic killing of the victim's grandmother.

Both incidents of the past fortnight must be placed next to one from a few years ago, when the infamous "sex scandal" led to huge protests, bringing Srinagar to a grinding halt. That was a tawdry tale of the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women, including the prostitution of minors. It was on a massive scale, with the involvement of politicians, senior bureaucrats, police and paramilitary officers. The scandal exposed the ugly networks of power and oppression, which prop up the structures of control in Kashmir. It also laid bare the vulnerability of women all over the Valley, prey to the brutal arrogance unleashed by 20 years of intense militarization and unbridled power.

It's a good time to remember that the acquisition of land for the Amarnath yatra was only the spark that set off last summer's protests. But the real fuel was widespread resentment about the fact that thousands of acres of agricultural, orchard and forest land is under occupation by the army and paramilitary forces, housing their feared camps and cantonments and vast logistics bases. The Kashmiris' behaviour then turns out to be underpinned by a fairly straightforward political reason: we don't need to delve into their fragile 'psyche'.

This week, the lights behind the curtain are being moved around to give the illusion of change: the CRPF's duties are to be handed over to the J&K police. If true, this will need massive local police recruitment and give a disturbing new twist to the Indian government's promise of employment to young Kashmiris. (However, from the Establishment's point of view, a policeman in every home may well be a solution to Kashmir's troubles.)

But this change of guard will not alter the lives of ordinary people. They do not care if the oppressive figure of the soldier wears the uniform of the Indian Army, its paramilitary forces, or is their neighbour in brand new fatigues. Such shallow transformation is not new: people remember the 'disbanding' of the dreaded Special Operations Group, which was simply merged into regular police operations; or the highly public way in which the CRPF replaced the BSF in Srinagar, leaving the countryside in the Army's iron grip.

This summer's protest is not just about the rape and murder of two women, the violation of human rights, or even the repeal of some draconian law. The shadow play must not distract us from the real issue, which is the extraordinary and intolerable militarization of Kashmir.

Sanjay Kak is a filmmaker whose most recent documentary 'Jashn-e-Azadi' explores the conflict in Kashmir

Thursday, June 11, 2009

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL RAPS INDIA OVER KASHMIR MESS

• Repeal security legislations
• Carry impartial probe into Shopian incident
• What about past inquiries?
. Police, troopers fired live ammunition at protestors
• Police failed to interview potential witnesses
• Present detained leaders before judicial authority
Rising Kashmir News Srinagar, June 11: The Amnesty International has criticized New Delhi for the continued human rights violations in Kashmir and the recent rape and murder of two women allegedly by troopers.In its report released on Wednesday, the Amnesty called on Indian authorities to immediately carry out fair and impartial investigations into the allegations of paramilitary CRPF involvement in the murders and sexual assault of the two women.
The two women, 22-year-old Aasiya Jan and her sister-in-law, 17-year-old Nilofer Jan, went missing when they went to tend their family fruit orchard on 29 May at Nagbal near Shopian. Their bodies were discovered next day in two different places at Ranbi Ara, a stream close to paramilitary CRPF camp.The Amnesty report said police and paramilitary forces had resorted to firing at protesters in several places including Shopian, Baramulla and Srinagar. “Reports from hospitals that admitted the injured indicate that troops fired both live ammunition and rubber bullets.”Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director, Sam Zarifi said authorities should ensure that troops comply with international human rights standards on law enforcement, in particular those relating to the use of force to deal with protestors. “Any instance of excessive use of force should be impartially investigated. These protests are about the ongoing failure of the Indian government to bring troopers to justice for serious human rights violations.”The report said police had failed to interview potential witnesses even as the state authorities ordered a judicial inquiry into the murders.The Amnesty called for repeal of the security legislation in force in Jammu and Kashmir that facilitates impunity by providing discretionary powers to troopers and effectively enabling them to violate human rights.It also expressed serious concern over the effectiveness of past inquiries ordered by the authorities into human rights violations including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and sexual assault of women.The report said that Amnesty had received information on 8 June that at least four pro-freedom Kashmiri leaders had been arbitrarily detained.“No charge has been leveled against them so far,” the Amnesty said. “One of the detained leaders, Syed Ali Geelani was taken to an unknown destination. Yasin Malik, Javed Mir and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were placed under house arrest.”Amnesty called on the authorities to disclose details of their detention including as to how they are being treated and immediately release those detained unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence.Amnesty International has also said that they should only be held in official and acknowledged places of detention and brought promptly before an independent judicial authority.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A VIOLENT CRIME RESURRECTS KASHMIR'S CALL FOR FREEDOM

Courtesy: Time Magazine- By YUSUF JAMEEL / SRINAGAR Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2009
The Vale of Kashmir is simmering again, this time over the rape and alleged murder of two young Muslim women. The corpses of 17-year-old Aasiya Jan and her sister-in-law, Nilofar Shakeel, 22, were found floating in a shallow stream on May 30, hours after their disappearance from their family's apple orchards in the city of Shopian in Indian Kashmir. Locals have alleged that Indian soldiers from a military encampment in the neighborhood were involved in the violent acts, reigniting separatist calls in the Muslim-majority region. At least one protester was killed and more than 300 people have been wounded in pitched street battles between angry residents and police that have brought the scenic Himalayan region to a standstill for over a week.
Autopsy reports and forensic investigations have confirmed that Aasiya and Nilofar, who was pregnant, were both raped, but authorities have not yet confirmed that either woman was murdered. A special police team has been assigned to the investigation. So far, no charges have been made, but chief minister of Indian-administered-Kashmir Omar Abdullah has said the government is committed to finding the perpetrators of the violent crime. "Nilofar and Aasiya were like my sisters and I, as brother, feel the pain of the tragedy that has befallen the victim family," Omar said. He pledged not to rest till the perpetrators are brought to justice. The Indian army and other security forces have not yet responded to residents' allegations.
Those assurances have failed to cool down tempers. The unrest has sparked Kashmiri separatists' call for azadi — "freedom" — once again, recalling scenes from a decades-long insurgency that has claimed many thousands of lives. In the first weeks of June, the streets of Srinagar and elsewhere have been filled with hundreds of men and women demanding independence from Indian rule. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, 79, a longtime separatist known for his hard standpoint on the issue of Kashmir, was quick to seize on the incident to mobilize protesters for his cause. He was arrested along with other key voices in the movement, most of whom have since been detained under a tough law called the Public Safety Act and shifted to jails outside the Valley. Several hundred average "troublemakers" have also been put behind the bars in the much-criticized sweep by police. Kashmir's chief minister Omar Abdullah has defended the action. "They took advantage of the tragic Shopian incident and plunged people into further misery," he told the Greater Kashmir newspaper.
Despite the relative peace that has come to Kashmir in recent years, anti-India sentiment still runs deep in predominantly Muslim Indian state. Some separatist leaders continue to seek full independence for the state; others a plebiscite to determine whether Kashmir should fall under Indian or Pakistani rule. Incidents like the Shopian deaths often lead high-voltage clashes between the region's residents and Indian security forces. Abdullah, Kashmir's chief, admits that absolute peace and normalcy will evade the region unless a sustained peace dialogue takes place within the state and between New Delhi and Islamabad. "New Delhi ought to talk to all the stakeholders including separatist leaders in Kashmir. Simultaneously, [India's] dialogue with Pakistan must be resumed without delay." he said.
This week's uproar is reminiscent of a similar situation that unfolded last summer after the state government decided to transfer about 100 acres of land to a Hindu consortium. The move was designed to improve amenities for the thousands of Hindus who come to Kashmir each year to worship at a local cave-shrine. More than 60 people were killed in the protests that followed that policy. Incidents like these take both a personal and an economic toll: Hundreds of Indian and foreign tourists were driven out of the Valley this week, and tour operators say that many bookings for tours and weddings — a big business in this scenic spot — have been cancelled. "More or less, three thousand marriages have been postponed or cancelled over the past one week," says Farooq Ahmed Bhandari, a chef who caters traditional wedding banquets. (
Read about the 2008 clashes.)
The opposition has been quick to point out the government's failings in dealing with the crisis. Former chief minister and leader of opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, says the official "mishandling" of the Shopian incident caused its escalation. Some Kashmir watchers also say that the chief minister's early response to the Shopian incident — that there was no evidence of foul play and that the women had likely drowned — got him into trouble. That statement was apparently based on early police information that the autopsy revealed no marks of violence on the dead bodies. But as local television channels continued to loop footage of the victims' bodies in abject condition, surrounded by mourning relatives who squarely placed blame on the Indian troops, the lingering feelings of a decades-long conflict once again surfaced.
Mufti the former chief minister, says the region and its people will continue to suffer economic and personal losses in incidents unless Indian armed forces are recalled from populated areas and the laws which give them impunity are repealed. In a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, he asserted that the effort that had gone into creating a new atmosphere of peace, reconciliation and resolution in and around Indian-administered-Kashmir "seems at a real risk of going waste unless immediate retrieval is made." Ostensibly in an acknowledgement of the situation being serious enough, Indian home (interior) minister P Chidambaram has scheduled a visit to Srinagar later during this week.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Kashmir's chief Muslim cleric and a moderate face of separatist movement, agrees with Mufti — though only partly. "Complete peace and normalcy will return to Kashmir and rest of the South Asian region only when the core issue of Kashmir is resolved as per wishes and aspirations of its people," says Farooq. Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a political analyst and a professor of law at the Kashmir University, agrees: "It is the virus and not the symptoms which require to be taken care of."

Monday, June 1, 2009

The fallacy and comedy of useless government probes against atrocities of armed forces

Govt. yet to implement enquiry report recommendations of Wular Tragedy even after one year that indicted Indian Navy of the murder of 22 Kashmiri children
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dated May 31st, 2009 by Shahjahan Afzal
Kupwara, May 30: Speaking on the third death anniversary of Wular tragedy in which 22 persons including 20 school children drowned when Indian Navy had taken them on a boat ride, parents and students and various organisations Saturday asked the government to implement the Naqashbandi inquiry report. Students in hundreds and teachers of the area held a condolence meet at Handwara in north Kashmir district of Kupwara. Chairman ‘Wular Tragedy Martyrs Committee’ Ghulam Mohiuddin Zargar, spearheading the campaign for justice told Rising Kashmir that three years have passed but government is yet to implement the recommendations of inquiry report, “Despite the tall assurances from the then government and the then Navy Chief, Admiral Arun Prakash that the guilty will be treated as per the law nothing has come out.” Zargar further said: “Indian Navy played big joke with the souls of the deceased by constructing Children Hospital amid media hype at Handwara in their memory. The hospital is without staff and the machinery installed is getting rusted with each passing day.”All the 22 deceased belonged to ‘Burning Candle Public School’ Handwara. On the occasion the parents, teachers and the colleagues of the deceased children together held a condolence meet at Sunrise Public School, where they mourned the death of dear ones. The participants while paying rich tributes to the deceased souls demanded implementation of the inquiry report. Bilal Akbar of Khaipora, while addressing the audience said, “Kashmiri are suppressed people. Our voices are muzzled.” Rafia of ‘Kehkashan’ School criticised the attitude of some people and accused that they are of dual character. “On one hand we support Azaadi yet we also support Indian polity by voting which we must not,” said Rafia. She accused the parents of the deceased souls of selling out their blood. Another student Nadia of 10th class said: “I still vividly remember my friends who lost their life in the tragedy. Their sweet memories neither let me sleep nor let me eat at most of the times.” Trying to console the bereaved parents Nadia said, “Don’t worry they are not dead they are alive.”NGO, Global Peace Foundation, Chairperson Abdur Rashid also paid rich tributes to the children who lost their lives in the tragedy.On 30 May 2006, 20 children were drowned in a boat capsize in Wular Lake. The incident evoked massive anger and condemnation against the Indian Navy for negligence from most sections of the State, forcing the government to launch an inquiry into the incident.The then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on 06 September formed an inquiry committee to look into the incident. The team of inquiry was headed by Syed Tariq Naqashbandi, the then district and sessions judge Srinagar. In his 156 page inquiry report found 4 persons of Indian Navy including Lt K S Nehra, Krishan Khalvi Ballot No, NEI (SD)129116Y designated as Boat Operator, Bali Ram Ballot No, 15769722/W, Gansham Ballot No, 15762395-N were held responsible. The inquiry also held principal of the school Muhammad Rafiq Khan responsible for the drowning of the students.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

SHAME ON YOU INDIAN ARMY, SHAME ON YOU

INDIAN SECURITY FORCES MASS RAPE AND MURDER TWO KASHMIRI WOMEN AT SHOPIAN - ENTIRE KASHMIR ON BOIL AGAIN
Srinagar May 30: At least 25 persons were injured during massive protests in South Kashmir’s Shopian area after two women were mysteriously found dead. The locals alleged that they were raped and killed by troopers while the authorities said opinion could be framed only after completion of investigation. The residents of Arhama village of Shopian said Nelofar Jan, 22 and her sister-in-law Asiya Jan 17 went missing mysteriously from their orchard in the village. “Their orchard is located at Nagbal and they had gone to sow vegetable seeds on Friday 4.30 pm,” neighbor of Asiya and Nelofar, Owais Ahmad told Rising Kashmir. “When they did not turn up till 8 pm we called on their cell and they told us that they were on way to home and will be reaching within 15 minutes. When we called them again, we got the response that subscriber is switched off. We got suspicious and informed our neighbors about the matter. We went to the garden and searched for them the entire night but failed to trace them out,” said family members of the deceased. Owais said after failing to locate them, Shakeel Ahmad - husband of Nelofar - lodged a report with police that his wife and sister Asiya were missing since Friday. “Police along with family members and villagers launched large scale search operation to trace them out,” he said. Another villager, Ashraf Wani said that at around 3 am on Saturday, police and locals found body of one them lying in Rangyari stream. “Another body was recovered at 6 am from the same stream,” Ashraf said, adding, “The stream is very shallow and a child can wade through”.The residents said clothes of the both ladies were torn. “There were also some marks around there necks. It seemed they were strangulated to death,” said the residents, who had seen their bodies.The villagers suspected that the due were killed deliberately after molestation. “Many such cases have taken place here in last one month and we suspect the involvement of troopers in the killing of the two women,” alleged the locals.After retrieving the bodies, the locals took them to a hospital for conduct of post mortem. “The doctors in the hospital did not hand us post mortem report. This led us to believe that the women were raped and killed by the troopers,” another resident Nisar Ahmad said. He said, “We kept the bodies in the hospital premises and refused to leave until a team of doctors from outside conducted the postmortem.” Later, a team of doctors was called from Pulwama to conduct the postmortem. Afterwards, people buried the bodies in a local graveyard amidst pro-freedom and pro-Islamic slogans. “If there was nothing suspicious why did local doctors refuse to make the post-mortem report public. When we insisted them to reveal the report they fled from the spot and this made us more suspicious” said a villager Mushtaq Ganai.Brother of Asia and brother in law of Neelofar, Riyaz Ahamd told Rising Kashmir that the way to their garden, which is located on the other side of the stream where the bodies were found, passes through the CRPF camp. “We apprehend the involvement of CRPF personnel in their killing,” he said.Riyaz said, “At 8 pm they talked to me very over phone and told me that they were on their way to home. When I called them again after 15 minutes their phone was switched off. The injury marks on their bodies make it clear that they were killed,” he said, adding, “We want that the culprits should be exposed and punished severely.
Protests and clashes Hundreds of people assembled at Shoipan market and staged demonstrations (PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE SHOWING WOMEN PROTESTORS BEING BEATEN TO PULP BY CRPF PERSONNEL AT SHOPIAN). Raising pro-freedom and anti-army and anti-CRPF slogans, the protestors were demanding action against the troopers involved in the incident. The slogans like “Produce the killers” and “We want justice,” rented the air. The protestors pelted stones on Deputy Commissioner’s office and hospital. They damaged several vehicles and flogged doctors. A contingent of police rushed to the spot and resorted to heavy baton charge and fired dozens of tear smoke shells to disperse the agitating people, who retaliated by hurling bricks and stones towards them. At least 25 persons including some cops were injured in the clashes, which continued for couple of hours.After the clashes and protests, authorities imposed undeclared curfew in some areas of Sopore to prevent people from taking to roads and protesting against the death of two women. The strength of police and paramilitary personnel were increased in the sensitive areas and people were not allowed to venture out of their homes. Official speakPolice said after receiving the complaint about the missing women, SHO Shopian alongwith 10 locals launched a search operation to trace out the duo. “During the searches, the bodies of the missing persons were recovered from Rambi Arra Nallah Saturday morning and brought to the District Hospital Shopian for postmortem,” SP Shopian Javed Matoo told Rising Kashmir. About the post mortem report, he said, “The doctor after examining the body said that no physical injuries or torture marks could be established”.He said when people came to know about it, they took to roads and staged violent demonstrations. “They resorted to arson and manhandling of hospital staff. Besides damaging the hospital property, they attempted to set ablaze the hospital,” SP said. He said afterwards police swung into action to disperse the agitated mobs. “The people came back to us and requested for independent probe,” Matoo said, adding, “DC Shopian called a team of doctors from Pulwama to conduct post mortem once again”.He said the report are awaited and will be submitted to them by Monday.“It is too early to ascertain the cause of death. We can frame opinion only once the circumstances of deaths are fully investigated”.When told that the locals are accusing CRPF of killing the women, the police officer said, “The CRPF camp is located at least at a distance of more than one km from the place where the bodies were recovered. We cannot accuse them of being involved in the incident. A civilian can also commit such a crime,” he added.SP Shopian said police have lodged the FIR into the incident and initiated the inquest proceedings under section 174 to ascertain whether the two women were murdered or died natural death.CRPF spokesman Prabhakar Tripathi termed the allegations wrong and totally baseless. “CRPF men are not involved in the incident,” he said.Geelani calls for shutdownHurriyat conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani has appealed people to observe strike on Monday to protest against the killing of two women at Shopian.Geelani termed the incident as ‘barbaric’ and ‘shocking’. “The incident is condemnable in strongest possible terms,” Geelani said and urged people to observe complete shutdown on Monday to protest against the killings. He said people in Kashmir have no other option than to stage strikes to protest against the ghastly killings of two women. “Our criminal silence would conceal the accused. So we should peacefully protest against the incident and observe strike,” added Geelani.Several separatist and mainstream parties including Hurriyat Conference (M), JKLF, JKLF (Rajbagh) Muslim League (Rajbagh), High Court Bar Association, PDP and Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami have strongly condemned the killing of the women and demanded a thorough probe into the incident.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

ARMY VEHICLE CRUSHES TWO KASHMIRI YOUTH TO DEATH

One Dies, Another Critical; Anti-Army Demos; Driver Held; Pampore Shutdown For 4 Days
Srinagar, May 28: For the third time this month an army vehicle trampled to death a youth and critically another near Badami Bagh army cantonment on Thursday morning, triggering massive anti-army demonstration in the area.Eyewitnesses said the Shafat Ahmad Wagay and Muhammad Ashraf Sheikh of Kadalbal Pampore were riding a bike when the army vehicle hit them while overtaking them. Shafat Ahmed died on the spot, while Muhammad Ashraf suffered grievous head injuries.Eyewitnesses said that army did not allow them approach Shafat’s body for 15 minutes after the incident. “Shafat’s body remained untouched for 15 minutes on road because the army did not allow any one to go near it,” eyewitnesses alleged.Shafat was taken to Army hospital, where he was declared brought dead.Ashraf Sheikh, who had been injured in the accident, was taken to the nearby Army hospital from where he was referred to SK Institute of Medical Sciences, where doctors said that his condition was critical. “He has cervical spine fracture and a ruptured spleen. We will be operating upon him soon,” the doctors said.Police have arrested the driver identified as Lance Naik P.K. Panday of the 103 regiment posted at BB Cantonment. The SDPO Nehru Park, Muzaffar Ahmad Shah, told Greater Kashmir, “We have arrested the driver (PHOTOGRAPH OF KILLER DRIVER UNDER POLICE CUSTORY SHOWN BELOW) and seized the vehicle. We have lodged FIR 104/09 against the accused in Ram Munshi Bagh Police Station and booked him under sections 279 and 337 of RPC for negligent driving.” However, it was not clear whether the accused was in police or army custody.Immediately after the accident, hundreds of people assembled at Batwara and shouted slogans against army, demanding action against the driver. The police dispersed protestors by firing tear gas shells and several rounds of ammunition in air. Police action angered the peaceful protesters who pelted stones and in the ensuing clashes several protestors sustained injuries.Meanwhile, Fallah Behbood Committee of Pampore alleged the Army vehicle deliberately hit the two youths outside the gate of Badamibagh Cantonment at Batwara. The Committee said that it would observe a complete Bandh in the Pampore for four days.“We will launch peaceful protests against the killing of innocent people by army,” the secretary of the committee said.The residents residing adjacent to bypass said that traffic police should be deployed immediately to replace the Army and CRPF patrol parties deployed during passage of army convoys.This is the third accident on the Srinagar-Jammu highway involving an army vehicle in the last month. On 8 May Bashir Ahmad Sofi, a former militant commander was hit by an army vehicle when he was calling from a mobile phone on roadside at Khrew Pampore. On 12 May an army driver, alleged by the locals to be drunk, crushed 10-year-old Khusboo near Lasjan.The Army spokesman Col J S Brar refused to comment on the incidence of army vehicles involved in accidents. He said an inquiry has been ordered by the army. “The driver has been arrested and he is in army custody. We have immediately called for an inquiry.”The IG Traffic Muhammad Amin Shah refused to comment on army vehicles involved in accidents and said it was not his jurisdiction. “Each accident is different but I can’t say anything about this. Investigations will tell about why the accident happened.”The IG further added, “The DIG traffic has written to the army so that we can chalk a plan where their presence does not congest the roads and we are sorting the matter out.”BOY DIES IN PAMPORETwelve year old Ubaid Rafiq son of Muhammad Rafiq of Frestibal Pampore succumbed to wounds at sub-district hospital Pampore. He was trampled by a truck (JK01C-2852) on Srinagar-Jammu highway. A FIR has been lodged against the driver at Pampore Police station.

A SIKH FROM POONCH RECORDS AND REPORTS 417 CASES OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Srinagar, May 27: Informing that hundreds of human rights violations have gone unreported in Poonch, Hurriyat Conference (M) Provincial President, Kamaljeet Singh Wednesday urged United Nations to establish its own commission to probe into rights violation in the region. “Thousands of human rights violations have been committed by troops in Poonch,” said Singh who has documented 417 cases of rights violation pertaining to custodial disappearances, custodial killings and torture in Poonch.“So we demand UN should set-up international commission to investigate rights violation,” he said.Singh who is also a human rights activist said he had been forced to beseech UN for the commission since the government had shown reluctance to act upon the recommendation of its own State Human Rights Commission.“I have reported 417 cases of human rights violation to SHRC,” he said. “The SHRC has so far passed seven judgments pertaining to different cases. However for the past two years, the government has not implemented a single recommendation of SHRC.”Singh, who was spotting a green turban, said SHRC had been made subservient to many other screening commissions.“Most of the 417 cases comprise of civilians. We wanted victims to get some kind of relief from the administration,” he said. “But no such thing has happened as they have made the process intricate.”Besides, he said they want UN commission to probe into rights violations since they do not believe in state affiliated commissions.“If the UN could report rights violations on Sri Lanka, why not Kashmir,” Singh said.Sitting in the Hurriyat Conference (M) office at Rajbagh, Singh narrated how difficult it was for the victim families to get justice in Poonch.“Hundreds of cases are unreported. I recently reported three more cases of rights violation to SHRC. They have not been reported either by police or army. The three were killed by unidentified gunmen,” Singh said.“These incidents remain unreported as they have happen in far flung mountainous areas,” he said. “I have documented only 417 cases. But there are hundreds of pending cases of heinous crimes committed by troops in far flung areas.”Stressing that the government had, most of the time, shown reluctance to help the myriad number of victims in the mountainous area, he demanded that the administration should take CBMs like trade after rehabilitating those victims.“I have to fight to register their FIR in police stations,” Singh said. “Poonch is full of tragic stories. One will get tired but stories in Poonch will not end.”He said he received several threat calls while he was gathering information about these cases.“I was scared but continued to work. I knew I am doing it for a noble cause,” Singh said.He appealed other human rights organizations to probe human rights violations in Poonch.“I am the lone person who has reported cases from there,” Singh said.

Monday, May 18, 2009

INNOCENT CIVILIAN KILLED IN POLICE CUSTODY YET AGAIN

As Usual Government Orders Useless Probe Into the Killing
Courtesy: Daily Greater Kashmir dt. May 19th, 2009 by GOWHAR BHAT
Srinagar, May 18: The killing of a civilian allegedly in the custody of the Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday triggered massive anti-police protests near his residence in uptown Alochi Bagh here. Eyewitnesses said that Manzoor Ahmad Beg, 35, son of Abdul Ahad Beg, was bought in an unconscious state to the SMHS hospital in the afternoon by some unidentified persons in an auto-rickshaw. “They left his (Beg’s) body in the hospital premises and fled the spot. The body was taken inside the hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.” Beg’s body was shifted to the Government Medical College for post mortem. Police later shifted it to the Police Control Room. Fearing uprising and protests, police handed over the body to the family late in the evening. Beg’s brother, Abdul Majeed said, “At around 1.30 pm two men appeared on my shop and told me that my brother had been picked up by the SOG men of Cargo camp. They told me to go to the SMHS hospital where he was admitted. When I went there I was told that he had died.” “There were torture marks on his body. His underarms were swelled and there was a strangulation mark around his neck… the body is now in PCR,” he said. From the SOG camp, he said, he was told that Beg’s body was first shifted to a private nursing home, Ramzana Hospital, where two unidentified men had hired the auto for SMHS hospital. He said the auto driver arrested by the police had been lodged in Karan Nagar police station.


Father of three children, Beg was a dealer of secondhand cars. When the news of his death broke in the area, many of his relatives and neignbours were shocked when they learnt that he had been killed by the SOG of the state police. “I saw him in the morning when he was buying some goods from a shop. He later accompanied his daughter to the school and left for his routine work,” said his neighbour Mushtaq Ahmad. “I don’t believe that he is dead.” While police retained his body till late in the evening, massive protests erupted in the area as scores of men and women, shouting anti-police and anti-India slogans, took to streets to stage protest demonstrations. They blocked the Airport road for several hours bringing the rush hour traffic to a complete halt. The protesters demanded that the body be handed over to the family. They also sought action against the policemen involved in his murder. A large number of police and paramilitary troopers were deployed in the area to deal with the protests. Later in the evening, when Beg’s mortal remains were handed over to the family, a pall of gloom descended over the entire locality. Women wailed and beat their chests as the coffin was bought to his house. Many separatist leaders, including Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mushtaq-ul-Islam and JKLF vice-chairman, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, visited the residence of the deceased. Meanwhile, the government has ordered a probe into the killing. Talking to reporters at the GMC, Srinagar, the deputy commissioner, Me’raj Ahmad Kakroo, said that he had ordered an inquiry into the killing. He appointed the additional deputy commission, M. Y. Zargar, as the inquiry officer asking him to submit his report within a week. Asked why he had come to the hospital and whether it was a custodial killing, Kakroo said, “I got a message and thought to visit the hospital to get the first hand account. We will probe the matter and then only would it be clear whether it is a custodial killing or not.” Kakroo was accompanied by the senior superintendent of police, Syed Ahfad-ul-Mujtaba.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kashmir Dispute makes entry into Guinness Book of World Records

‘Kashmir is the largest militarized territorial dispute in the whole world’
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt. May 15th, 2009 by Hakeem Irfan
Srinagar, May 14: The 2009 edition of Guinness Book of World Records has described Jammu and Kashmir as the ‘largest militarized territorial dispute’ in the world.The Guinness Book of world records quoting American Intelligence Agency (CIA) fact book says: “The dispute between China, India and Pakistan for the Kashmir region is the largest and most militarized territorial dispute currently taking place on the planet earth.”The report came after US President Barrack Hussein Obama emphasized the need to have “better understanding” between India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir dispute.“We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and help resolve the Kashmir crisis,” Obama had said in an interview with MSNBC news channel.The record book reads that the dispute continues ‘despite the massive earthquake that devastated the area in 2005 killing 80000 people’.“At any time, up to one million troops confront each other across the Line of Control that represents India and Pakistan administered Kashmir,” the book mentions on page 137 in the chapter ‘modern life’ under the banner ‘World at War’.In Kashmir, human rights activists and observers see it as an important strategic outcome from the US intelligence agency.Noted columnist and a senior faculty member at the Department of Law, Sheikh Showkat said: “Sense of deprivation amongst people of Kashmir has kept the dispute alive. The statement from the US institution depicts that finally world has realized the importance of the issue and need to solve it if we see it implicitly.”“It is high time for India to realize the ground situation and accept the reality,” said Hussain. “It should at least shake the policymakers in New Delhi. Here military has been empowered to do anything and besides its ruthlessness it has been legitimized through draconian laws.”Human rights activist and senior counsel Parvez Imroz said: “It is because of US that wars between India and Pakistan were averted many times. Indian Army is in Kashmir to neutralize and control which also brings with it the baggage of atrocities and human rights violations.”“The statement from CIA is very important,” said Imroz. “Kashmir is the battleground of two nuclear rivals if any war happens. So it is high time to resolve it. International community seems to have realized the grave situation here. It must pave way for taking steps vis-à-vis the resolution of Kashmir issue.”

Monday, May 11, 2009

Army lorry crushes 10-yr-old girl to death in Lasjan

Locals stage demo, damage vehicle; Police fires tear shells
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt. May 12th, 2009 by Abdul Mohamin
Srinagar, May 11: A fast moving army vehicle crushed to death a 10 year old girl at Lasjan, evoking massive anti-army demonstrations with protestors damaging the vehicle. Eyewitnesses said that one of the vehicles (02D/49794) in the army convoy hit a 10 year old girl Khushboo daughter of Abdul Qayoom at Lasjan Byepass at around 4 pm while she was crossing the road. “She was dragged by the vehicle for few meters, causing her on spot death,” they said. The army vehicle, according to the eyewitnesses, tried to speed away from the spot after killing the girl. However, the vehicle was blocked by a tipper, bringing to complete halt the army convoy. People in large numbers gathered at the scene of the accident and ransacked the army vehicle. Raising anti-army slogans, the protestors broke the windows of the vehicle and alleged that troopers were ‘intentionally killing’ the Kashmiris. They demanded action against the guilty army driver. A contingent of cops from Nowgam and Pantha-Chowk police stations reached the spot and resorted to cane charge and fired tear smoke shells to disperse the agitating people. The locals accused SHO of Nowgam police station of using excessive force against the protesters. “Instead of pacifying the locals, the police officer used force against them,” said an elderly person.The police officials, present on the spot, said they tried to pacify the protesters that investigations will be launched. “The protestors refused to disperse and demanded that SSP City should visit the spot and order impartial probe,” they said, adding, “They had no option but to use mild force to restore law and order situation”.The stand-off led to the traffic jams on the Byepass with vehicles on both sides remaining stranded for hours together on the road. As the protestors continued to block the road to press authorities to punish the guilty army driver, police again resorted to tear gas shelling at 7.10 pm. After the police action, partial vehicular movement on the road was restored and vehicles were allowed to move towards their destinations. Meanwhile, till last reports, police had not registered FIR against the army.Driver arrested, inquiry ordered: ArmyDefence Col Uma Maheshwar Monday said army regrets the death of the innocent girl child who was overrun by their vehicle.He said that the driver had been arrested and a high level inquiry ordered. “Stern action will be taken against the driver as per the law of the land,” he said.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

APDP to UN: Ask India to repeal draconian laws

Tells govt to declare disappeared men dead if killed, or their whereabouts if alive
COURTESY: DAILY GREATER KASHMIR DT. MAY 11TH, 2009 BY FAHEEM ASLAM
Srinagar, May 10: United Nations must ask India to withdraw draconian laws that give impunity to its armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir, and also prevail upon India so that it clears its stand on the fate of thousands of men subjected to enforced custodial disappearance in the past 20 years, Parveena Ahanagar, the president of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) told reporters on Sunday. Parveena Ahangar, leading a monthly sit-in of the parents of disappeared persons at Pratap Park here, released the document she submitted at the 86th Session of the UN’s Working Group on Involuntary Enforced Disappearances in Geneva in November last year . Ahanger said the APDP submission urged the WGIED to ask India to ratify and implement the provisions of the International Convention for Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearances (2007) and UN convention against torture, abolish all secret detention and interrogation centres, take immediate steps to protect family members of persons disappeared from intimidation and harassment by security forces, and also empower the NHRC and SHRC to investigate crimes committed by the armed forces in compliance with international standards and norms. The submission comprised six individual cases of disappearances in Kashmir. “The general submissions presented a brief account of the widespread prevalence of Enforced Disappearances in Kashmir and gave an overview of the Indian laws related to sanctions for prosecutions, and special laws like AFSPA which give armed forces extraordinary powers,” she said. The document gives a brief account of the APDP’s meetings with several UN officials in Geneva. “In response to the efforts of the APDP the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay during her recent visit to India on March 24 has asked India to allow the UN Special Rapporteurs to visit Jammu and Kashmir as in the past two decades hundreds of disappearance cases have been reported in Kashmir,” the document reads. “The High Commissioner has also called for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which allowed the security agencies to indulge in excesses.” The document said that Pillay raised these issues during a press conference with Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, where she reiterated her demand to allow UN officials on human rights to visit Kashmir. Meanwhile, the Association demonstrated against the Jammu and Kashmir government, accusing it of failing to address the issue of “enforced disappearance of civilians in the custody of armed forces.” The family members of the disappeared men chanted anti-government slogans. “We don’t want jobs or money, but our children. We have been long waiting for justice, but the successive governments have failed to deliver it,” the members said. Holding placards which read “where are our loved ones” the members urged the chief minister Omar Abdullah to address their issues. “For God’s sake tell us where they are? Declare them dead if they have been killed, or hand them over to us if alive,” said the 70-year-old Azi of Tengpora whose son Mushtaq Ahmad Dar was disappeared in the custody of troops 10 years ago. The relatives of disappeared persons urged the chief minister to visit different jails to ascertain the condition of Kashmiri detainees. “We are sure he will find their condition very pathetic,” they said.