News Notes

Papa’s Boy

Papa-Kishtwari-with-his-bodygaurdsTaking strong note of inaction by the police department with respect to absconding associate of infamous government gunman Papa Kishtwari, a local Court Monday directed SSP Srinagar to submit a detailed status report, citing reasons why the absconding accused Maqbool Sheikh has not been nabbed so far.

First Additional District Judge Srinagar Muhammad Ashraf Malik heard the case titled ‘State vs Papa Kishtwari’. After hearing the submission from the counsel of the complainant, the court took strong note of inaction by the police with respect to absconding accused number 6 Maqbool Sheikh and sought a detailed status report from SSP Srinagar by or before March 11.

The Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Muhammad Yousuf Dar was also directed by the Court to seek the detailed report with regard to the application seeking the whereabouts of ammunition and weapons used by the accused persons during their service as private militia for government of India.

The APP was also directed to seek a report by or before March 11 and file the same before the court for further necessary action.

It was also pleaded by the Counsel for the complainant that since two years, the State has not been filing any response with respect to the weapons used by the accused persons in the case. The court directed SHO police station Nishat to look into the matter and inform the court about the development in this regard.

Indicting Peer

cover-gulzar-the-rapist-peerJammu and Kashmir Government Thursday approached State High Court to challenge the acquittal of rape accused ‘faith healer’ from Central Kashmir’s Budgam district, Gulzar Ahmad Bhat alias Gulzar Peer. Peer was acquitted by Principal Sessions Court Budgam of rape charges on February 12.

Police sources informed that after getting a nod from the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to file an acquittal appeal against the local court’s judgment passed by the Principal Sessions Judge Budgam in case titled State through SHO P/S Khansahib, FIR No. 40/2013 u/s 376, 109 RPC v/s Gulzar Ahmad Bhat and others, Deputy Advocate General N H Shah Thursday filed an appeal against the acquittal in High Court Srinagar.

In its appeal before the High Court, the State Government has submitted that the judgment of Principal and District Sessions Judge Budgam is based on wrong assumption of facts and is far from justice. “The judgment of the Principal and District Sessions Judge is erroneous and based on the wrong assumption of facts,” the appeal filed by State Government reads.

Police sources informed that they are in possession of solid evidences against Gulzar Peer and on the basis of these evidences, government decided to challenge the acquittal judgment of the local court. “The government has already directed Qazi Abdul Qayoom, Chief Prosecuting Officer Budgam to provide all necessary assistance and certified copies of the judgment to the deputy Advocate General N H Shah who will plead case for the State Government,” they said.

Pertinently, the self-styled faith healer Gulzar Bhat alais Gulzar Peer of Latur Chadoora, who used to run a seminary at Shamsabad Budgam was arrested for allegedly raping minor girls on the pretext of “purifying their soul” in May 2013. The complainants had alleged that Gulzar Peer raped at least 40 girls in his so called ‘Hujra-e-Khaas’ at his Shamsabad Seminary.

Dogged Details

AmnestyIn its latest report, Human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) has noted that ‘perpetrators of extrajudicial executions’ in Jammu and Kashmir continue to evade justice.

The report titled “Amnesty International Report 2104-15 – The State Of The World’s Human Rights” highlighted number of high-profile human-right cases including fake encounter of three civilians by army personnel in Machil area of Baramulla district in 2010, killing of five civilians in staged gun battle in 2000 in Pathribal in Anantnag (Islamabad) district and a few other cases to point out inaction on part of authorities.

The AI report also highlights the killing of a 14-year-old student and 21-year-old man of Nowgam by Army in Chattergam Budgam. The duo was killed by soldiers of Army’s 53 Rashtriya Rifles when the former were returning home in a car. “Perpetrators of past violations in Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland Manipur, Punjab and Assam continue to evade justice,” mentions, the AI report.

The AI has taken note of government’s reluctance to revoke Armed Forces Special Powers Act from J&K despite “some signs of progress” in the state. The report mentions, citing that the legislation (ASFSPA) providing immunity from prosecution were still in force in J&K and parts of north-east despite ongoing protests.

Meanwhile, Hurriyat Conference (M) described the report as an “eye opener” for the world community regarding the human rights situation in Kashmir.

Observing ‘Kunan’ Day

Kunan-Poshpora-ProtestIt happens only in Kashmir where a rape victim has to wait for decades to get justice. Reason: because the perpetrators are none other than the men in uniform. In contrast, entire India went into mourning when a girl named Damini by the press was raped in New Delhi. But Kashmir is full of such Damini’s who became victims of sexual violence by men in uniform over last two and half decades. Nobody protested for these victims and the accused are never booked for their crimes. Why should they, they are immune and shielded by acts like AFSPA.

More than two decades have passed since 53 women were raped in Kupwara’s Kunan-Poshpora villages in 1991. Since then the culprits are roaming free and they were never held guilty or punished for the crime. The happenings of that day have left long lasting scars on their minds. Some of the victims are already dead while waiting for justice.

That dark night of February 1991 is now observed as the Women’s Resistance Day.

In 2014, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had announced to observe Feb 23 as “Women Protection Day in Kashmir” to bring to the notice of the world the atrocities and violence against the women in Kashmir. And this year his fraction of Hurriyat released a detail report about the condition of women in Kashmir.

Quoting the interviews conducted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International, “11.6 percent of women said that they have been victims of sexual violence.”

The report states, “The most heinous crime against women was witnessed in Kunan and Poshpora villages where the troopers of 4 Rajputana Rifles barged into the homes in the dark of the night and raped more than 50 women, on the intervening night of Feb 22nd and 23rd 1991.”

Due to adverse political situation and militarization, the report quoting National Health Survey reads that 61 percent of married women in Kashmir are suffering from different types of women related health disorders which are much higher than India’s national average of 39 percent. Thousands of women are suffering from infertility which has saddened such families.

The report quoting a research project of Kashmir University says that in lone Psychiatric Hospital of the valley, 60 per cent of the patients brought for treatment happens to be women, who suffer from psychiatric and mental disorders which have been directly or indirectly found to be a result of conflict. According to SKIMS, research conducted on 112 young women suffering from PCOS, the report states 65 to 70 women suffer from psychiatric ailments.  Besides, the prevalence of hypertension among women has shown a considerable increase, the report adds.

Meanwhile, a seminar on Kunan mass rape was also held in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi Tuesday afternoon. It was hosted by ‘Subject Association’ of Department of Political Science, Human Rights defender Gautam Navlakha chaired the session while Journalist Sukumar Muralidharan, Lawyer Warisha Farasat and Writer Uzma Falak were the speakers at the event.

The seminar was titled “Two Decades after Kunan Poshpora – State Violence, Legality and Justice,” where Gautam said that Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of 1947 partition. “The problem goes back to 1847-48 when Kashmiris were sold to a Dogra,” he said. He said that Kashmir dispute has been reduced to just a human rights problem. “It is humanitarian issue.”

CET Broker

Even if you are involved in any sort of crime, getting bailed out is not an issue either in State or in Delhi. Same happened when alleged broker in infamous CET scam of 2012, who was accepting money for “manufacturing” doctors, was granted bail by the Supreme Court of India.

The alleged broker, Haroon Rashid Lone was engineered by the former chairman of Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE) Mushtaq Ahmad Peer, who himself was caught in the case.

The court has said that it has carefully gone through the reasons assigned in the order by the Division Bench of the High Court and also noticed the nature of allegations made against the Lone and other accused persons.

Pertinently, Crime Branch had filed charge sheet against 25 accused in CET paper leak scam of 2012. Besides, some parents, brokers, former chairman of Board of Professional Entrance Examination (BOPEE); the list of accused comprised of 12 students who were studying in Government Medical College in Srinagar.

Shopian Encounter

Despite officials claiming a decline in militancy related incidents across the valley, there is visible increase in number of encounters in last few months. Not only that, but a number of militants killed in recent encounters are highly qualified having impressive academic record.

In a recent encounter, two militants were killed and one among them, Ashiq Hussain Dar was having MA English B.Ed (besides a government official). Ashiq was selected as VLW in May 2014 and he joined militant ranks in August 2014 after working for three months as a government official.

Soon after the encounter was over more than a dozen persons were injured including eight men in uniform and SDM Zainapora when hundreds of people attacked them with rocks at the encounter site in Shopian district. The protesters were demanding the body of dead militant.

The 25 hour encounter in Heff Shermal area of Shopian, was led by a joint team of SOG and army, when they had gone for a search operation in the area, the hiding militants opened fire on them triggering an encounter.

Once the encounter was over, next day, six more people were injured when a live grenade went off at the encounter site.

But soon after, Hizbul Mujhadeen came out with a press release threatening informers of the Army, who inform them about the presence of militants in any area.

“There is an active network in Kashmir that is helping Indian Army to trace and kill the ‘Mujhadeen’. We have identified all the men operating that network and in coming days we will teach them a lesson,” Hizb operational spokesperson Baleeg-u-Din told a local news gathering agency.

Pertinently in Lok Sabha, the house was informed that J&K witnessed 57 encounters between militants and state security forces in 2014.

Union Home Affairs Minister (MoS), Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary informed the Lok Sabha that these encounter led to killing of 110 militants and 47 Indian security men. 70 others were arrested in these incidents as well.

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