Probe Politics

On the first day of state assembly’s autumn session held in Srinagar Chief Minister Omar Abdullah ordered a judicial probe in to the September 7, Shopian killings.  Five days later seventy-nine-year old retired Justice M L Koul was appointed to formally probe the killings.

It took 15 days of curfew and 7 days of complete shutdown to shake state governments conscious to order a probe in the killing of 5 men by personnel of Gagrin camp in apple town Shopain.

After the probe was formally ordered the focus shifted on Koul and his capabilities to tackle such a sensitive investigation.

Last time Koul was in news was when he was given three consecutive extensions as chairman Advisory Board on controversial Public Safety Act (PSA).

His credentials viz-a-viz judicial probe came under attack in 2008 when he was entrusted by former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to look into the to inquire the circumstances in Ganderbal fake encounter killings. The report, which did not reveal anything, ultimately was forgotten.

Koul, who retired as judge of Haryana and Punjab High Court was appointed as chairman of the advisory board PSA first in 2000. Since then he was given three extensions. Koul’s track record as chairman advisory board PSA caused huge public outcry which ultimately made PDP oppose his continuous extensions. He finally left the post in November 2012. It is believed that during his tenure as chairman hardly any PSA case was revived. In order to stay in government’s good books and win extension after extension, Koul is believed to have turned a deaf ear on pleas of people booked under controversial PSA.

Given his track record it is highly doubtful that Koul would do justice with the victims of Shopian killings.

By choosing Koul to head the enquiry, despite state police’s clean chit to four out of five people killed in Shopian, it highly unlikely that the truth will prevail now.

With elections round the corner, when Omar Abdullah ordered probe, it was believed that this time around he will act tough against perpetrators of Shopian killings and truth will finally come out. But the hopes were dashed as soon as Koul’s name surfaced as the head of the inquiry. It turned out to be just another probe meant to keep the pot boiling for some time before the victims themselves get weary of justice, as is routine now. Once again the ailing separatist leader Geelani proved himself right when he out-rightly rejected the inquiry as a joke.

The question that everybody is asking is why only Koul, when there are a number of judges with clean track records at government’s disposal for the job.

With a person like Koul entrusted to find the truth this inquiry is indeed a joke.

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