By Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai
While the international community looks the other way when targeted assassinations occur elsewhere around the globe, it is hardly surprising that we should see this going on in a country so highly disputed as Kashmir.
Even more so, where there has been continued resistance to occupation and too many years of disappearances, killings, rapes and terrorism, it is almost a cliché to take note of repeat performances of this insidious war upon the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Certainly we could not expect such a low standard that disrespects human rights and national sovereignty to escape notice by actors who have long had a habit of engaging in such terror.
It would nevertheless be appropriate to strongly condemn the recent mysterious target killings in Kashmir, in particular in Sopore town, within the period of one and half month. The killing of innocent civilians is quite unacceptable, and what appear to be the targeted killings are especially deplorable and unpardonable, because this represents a complete breakdown of law and order and respect for justice exercised through civilized process which is the hallmarks of contemporary political and social ideals.
When we look for evidence of who might be committing these crimes, the options narrow down rather quickly. The government blames a non-descript group called Lashkar-e-Islam (leI). But such a group has never been active in Kashmir, has no known members, no known leadership, and may be someone’s figment of a wild imagination. No one knows what LeI’s agenda is, or who is behind it. More likely, it is an intentional lie.
These killings are in fact more reminiscent of Ikhwan lead by Kuka Parray who was confirmed to be an Indian trained renegade to counter and disrupt the peaceful Kashmiri resistance movement. India used the counter insurgency tactics as an instrument of terror in nineties.
Now this mysterious phenomenon is appearing again in 2015. Everybody is fearful. People have started leaving their houses.
In an editorial on June 16, 2015, the Kashmir Times said, “There are serious flaws in the official versions… It has become the want of the official circles to circulate both contradictions and the invocation of ‘terrorist’, ‘suspect’ and ‘heavy stone pelting’ to justify wrongful killings.”
Some suspect that these target killings are the brainchild of Mr. Manohar Parriker, India’s defence minister, who wants to use a covert operation to fight the Kashmiri freedom struggle. Such suspicions are reinforced by Mr. Parriker’s own statement last month when he said, “You have to neutralize terrorist through terrorist only.” Even Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, has accused the Defence Minister of being behind the operation. These executioners are being used as the instrument of terror.
Mr. Parriker added, “Many attempts have been foiled and many neutralizations have taken place… if you see, recent incidents… Army knew about the hideout of the terrorists, they took them on at the place of their hiding… Security forces go by the guarantee of the government standing by them… and I can tell as a Defence Minister, I stand by the Army at any cost.”
These murders of Kashmiri civilians by anonymous killers are nothing new. India has used this phenomenon for many years. India wants to portray the freedom struggle in Kashmir as a terrorist movement on one side and on the other to terrorize the people into submission.
It was confirmed by Wajahat Habibullah, former minister of community affairs at Embassy of India in Washington, D.C. who wrote in his book “My Kashmir Conflict and The Prospects Of Enduring Peace” on page 81-82 that, “In April 1993, the Chief ideologue of the JKLF, Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru was kidnapped and brutally murdered by the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant Zulqarnain. The Police made an arrangement with Zulqarnain, then in custody, who agreed to kill Guru in exchange for his release. But to ensure that this collusion remained secret, Zulqarnain was killed shortly thereafter and the Director General of Police BS Bedi trumpeted his death as a triumph for the security forces”.
Likewise, ‘unidentified gunmen’ killed 36 innocent Kashmiris belonging to the Sikh religion at Chittisingpora in March 2000 during President Clinton visit to India. Dr. Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu Kashmir said in February 2008 that “there were some people who tried to scuttle the Chittisinghpora investigations. Some investigators were even threatened. I want to reveal the conspiracy behind the massacre, but as I am under an oath, I cannot do so”. We know exactly what Dr. Farooq Abdullah does not want to say.
The people suspect that the PDP-BJP is under pressure to take steps to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The government wants to create a situation so as to justify its presence in Kashmir and not to repeal AFSPA.
The people of Kashmir believe that human rights are cheapened when enforcement is selective. Therefore, they demand an impartial investigation so that culprits are brought to justice. Such an investigation has to be done by a neutral and international agency, like Mr. Christof Heyns, ‘United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Killings.’
The United States must understand that Kashmiris crave only what every American covets: human rights, democratic values, peace and justice, and believe that the United States successes elsewhere could be duplicated in Kashmir with persistence, moral suasion, and statesmanship.
And the world powers must realize that the issue of Kashmir is simply this: its final status needs to be decided by all the inhabitants of Jammu Kashmir, irrespective of their religious or regional affiliations – whether to be a part of India or Pakistan or remain independent.