More Murders

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Every time, guns open up, tragedies scatter around. The new routine in last three decades suggests that the political beings from all sides, cutting across party affiliations and political ideologies, resort to strikes, condemnations as the government normally constitutes special enquiries and registration of the FIR in the concerned police stations.

The same drill followed after a series of killings in the twin Shopian villages. Some people questioned the SOP and some accused the government of being incompetent enough to prevent these incidents that spilled the blood. All these actions at the government level did not, anyway, impact the ground zero. Strikes, curfews and statements still continue and a few days later, the situation is expected to gradually limp back to the routine. This was precisely what a Communist leader told the state assembly that the condemnations have become a mere fashion and is not contributing positively towards Kashmir that is caught in a serious crisis for the last 30 years now.

Most of the official set-up tends to believe that the crisis survives in the massive physical infrastructure that came up in last 30 years with the sole objective of crushing militancy: the concertina wire-fenced huge premises of garrisons and the buildings housing tens of thousands of battle-ready personnel. The fact is the real crisis in the legal infrastructure that was either enforced by Delhi remotely through the governors or was legislated by the state assembly.

 Successive state governments have set up hundreds of magisterial investigations and thousands of FIRs in police records mentioning various armed and paramilitary forces as accused in various cases of violations of human rights.

But not in many of these cases have these investigations resulted in the delivery of justice. This was purely the reason why a BJP lawmaker recently ridiculed the state police by daring them to register as many cases as possible against the army because it will not matter as long as Armed Forces Special Powers Act is in the place.

Even the records revealed by the state Home Ministry in the about to conclude budget session vindicates his claim.

Between 1990 and 2018, the records suggest 293 cases of “alleged custodial killings” were registered against various security agencies and 170 of them were “un-traced”, four cases were declined, 10 were not admitted at all, 44 are still under investigation and 65 were actually challened before the courts of law.

There were 99 cases registered in custodial disappearances of which three were not admitted, 52 were untraced, 36 are under-investigation and only eight were challened.

 Besides, there were 90 rapes or molestation cases against the security agencies of which 13 were not admitted, nine were untraced, one is under investigation and 67 have been charge-sheeted before the competent courts. The state government has sent as many as 33 cases to the ministry of defence for according sanction for prosecution but in 14 cases it has either been denied or the case has been closed. In rest of the cases, it is work in progress.

The number of cases actually indicates that the state’s governance system and the police is seemingly subjective in the registration of the cases, given the magnitude of the crisis in Kashmir and other parts of the state have been witnessing. The number of youth who vanished in custody run in thousands.

While any improvement in the situation is directly linked to the failure in Delhi and Srinagar in engaging Islamabad and the people of Kashmir, the system of justice should not deliberately stop working. The absence of a clear justice delivery system is aiding in perpetuating the crisis that has enormous costs to Kashmir, a small population.

While the successive governments have failed in ceasing these opportunities by permitting its appendages to resort to abuse and misuse of the public authority, the serial Shopian killings could still be a test case of restoring the credibility of justice and governance systems. The assembly debates suggested that the opposition benches were not against the idea of approaching this case with some consensus. Even the vocal lawmaker who is on the boycott of the session had suggested that all the lawmakers must go for a joint march outside the Lok Sabha to impress upon Delhi against the frequent bloodshed in Kashmir.

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