Ensure justice

Number of such probes would be in hundreds since 1990s but the outcome of these investigations is not in public domain.  A judicial commission, looking into the Panchalthan massacre, had recommended that two earlier massacres be also probed because they led to the one that was actually investigated. It never happened and if Dr Farooq Abdullah’s statements on the issue would be taken at face value, he was actually prevented from going ahead.
Omar’s predecessor Ghulam Nabi Azad started high level investigations into staged encounters and many skeletons came out of the cupboard. Some police officers found responsible for the murders were booked and are in jails.
But in all these cases, while action was initiated against the cops troopers remained untouched. Every time there was a case involving soldiers, the army took the defence under the armed forces special powers act, a law that give them a lot of power and immunity from law. Not in a single case have the army entertained any request by a civilian commission appointed by the government to appear before it or represent itself. There might be many instances of court martials but never ever has it been visible. This kills the fundamentals of justice that needs to be done and essentially must be visible and seen.
Everybody attributes the crisis to the twin laws – the armed forces special powers act and the disturbed areas act. Omar Abdullah maintains that he is supportive of withdrawing the AFSPA. He says the law will go during the term of the incumbent government. Terming it an “old issue” Home Minister P Chidambaram recently said in Jammu that it will be addressed at the most appropriate time after the Lok Sabha polls are over.
After the indictment of troopers in Bomai incident by the army this week, Abdullah sounded upbeat. To his credit the army action came after much hard pressing by him, as the army had reportedly refused to cooperate in government inquiry. The army stuck to their stand, but by indicting the soldiers in their own inquiry gave the chief minister face saving grace, or a reason to cheer.
But if the chief minister wants only to score a political point, then the job is already done. But if he means justice then he has to ensure that the army do punish their soldiers as appropriate of a murder, and also make the punishment public.   


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