Dawood Geelani

Follow Us OnG-News | Whatsapp
File Photo: Bilal Bahadur
File Photo: Bilal Bahadur

I had no idea (in fact, nobody had) that the morning of Jan 24, 2014 would scoff at the lingering justice in a big way. That day, I couldn’t flip the daily. The front page was all I could set my eyes on. And that glaring news item: ‘Army closes Pathribal fake encounter case’. My understanding about the incident was naïve. But after reading a news item, I grew curious. And soon started surfing details about the incident in which five civilians were charred to death by army.

After scratching the painful background, I was left livid. And failed to understand as how come army gave a clean chit to itself when all charges stand against them. “What a mockery of justice,” I rued.

And then, we heard people calling it, “a travesty of justice.” Others chipped in by naming it, “miscarriage of justice.”

But one may ask: when was justice delivered in this case? For me, and like millions of ‘rationalists’ around, it is simply a case of murdering the justice! And when you murder, then infusing life back is supernatural. And perhaps, one has to wait for another 14 years to expect justice. But it seems a wild-goose chase at the moment!

So, by now we all know how it all started. We do know that to save its face in Chattisinghpora killings, Indian army killed five persons in a staged encounter at Pathribal in South Kashmir in march 2000. 35 Sikhs were killed at Chittisinghpora four days before that.

Outside the boundaries of the valley, where people think high about Indian army might have saluted them with pride. But later, the same ‘proud men in uniform’ were later declared slayers than saviours!

Streets simmered after the killings got surfaced. Locals refused to buy Army’s version. And subsequently, seven more lives were devoured while protesting. Public outcry ensured special investigation in the case by CBI (India’s FBI). Soon, all the five bodies were exhumed.

And then in 2006, CBI gave its final report. In that report, 5 army personnel were held responsible for the killings at Pathribal. But as controversial AFSPA continues to save the skin of army stationed in the valley, the report was simply shrugged off.

The case finally entered into the apex courtroom of India, that directed army to hold trials in its own court. Or choose a civil court on its own. And then in 2012, the matter was shifted from court of CJM Srinagar to army court at Jammu. But, family members of five deceased refused to travel to Jammu for hearings.

And finally army delivered a self-appeasing justice citing inability to establish prime-facia case against accused. Thus, 14 years of lingered justice was finally scoffed at in the most inhumane way.

Like always, social media raged with reactions over the order. Tweeted one   @Mazloom: “AFSPA has undermined the state and society, #PathribalKillings.” Another user, Jayshree Bajoria tweeted: “AFSPA must go, Indian army uses it to oppose prosecution in the civilian court and then closes case says no evidence found, #PathribalVerdict.”

If Twitter was upset, then Facebook was fuming. “Kashmir is the only place in the world where murderers pronounce judgment itself,” read one post. “Mother of the one of deceased was heard saying: ‘They are Judge, they are the investigators and they are the guilty.’ ”

Another Facebook user uploaded: “Freedom has a price and we are ready to pay it, #PathribalKillings.”

Amid a raging debate, CM Omar Abdullah, like always, tweeted: “Extremely disappointed with the decision of the army reg #Pathribal. Will ask the law deptt & advocate General to examine other options.” One wonders at the helpness of third generation CM Abdullah. He is the chairman of the Unified Headquarters, and yet forces arrive at the decision without considering him. Such is our chief minister, and such is his say over the state of affairs!

The army decision, we came to know, didn’t surprise separatists: “we are saying from the beginning that India is using separate laws here, and separate in the rest of the country.”

And then, reactions poured from world forum. Amnesty International said that the verdict has reinforced the culture of impunity in Jammu and Kashmir.

But perhaps, a tweet from one Ashwin Mishra beautifully summarises the whole situation: “Imagine the Irony: I kill you in a fake encounter, then I hold an enquiry myself and declare myself Innocent, that’s the #PathribalVerdict.”

(An active netizen, Dawood Geelani is an undergraduate student at Islamia College of Science and Commerce, Srinagar)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here