Judicial Probe Into J&K Civilian Killings26 June 2010
The Asian Age
Srinagar: The deteriorating law and order situation in parts of Kashmir Valley and increasing anger in the local population as an upshot of the recent killings in CRPF and police firings seems to have made chief minister Omar Abdullah lose his sleep. “He is perturbed and agitated,” said an aide. While the Opposition parties, particularly the People’s Democratic Party, have said the chief minister has lost the moral right to rule the state, chief Muslim cleric and chairman of his faction of separatist Hurriyat Conference alliance asked Mr Abdullah to “admit your failure and step down”. Many of his colleagues in the National Conference and the government, on the other hand, are worried at the looming political corollary of the surge in fatal casualties among the civilians during the security forces’ actions and have implored the chief minister should take corrective measures before it is too late and the situation goes out of control. Mr Abdullah admitted he is faced with “certain difficulties” on the law and order front but blamed “disruptive elements and vested interest” for it. He told this newspaper in an interview: “The incidents that have taken place are tragic as they are. But they were the direct result of law and order disturbances. Now to what extent the use of force was authorised, to what extent the use of force was justified, to what extent the use of force was proportional to the problem that was there is the area my senior officers, including the divisional commissioner of Kashmir, has been asked to bring forward.” But taking a tough posture, the chief minister has asked all the security forces deployed in the state “to exercise utmost restraint while dealing with the civilians”. He warned that those found guilty of human rights violations will be dealt with strictly as per law. The state government has appointed Justice Syed Bashir-ud-Din (Retd), chairperson, J&K State Human Rights Commission, to conduct an inquiry into the Sopore incident. It has been asked to ascertain the causes of death of two local youth, Shakeel Ahmad Ganai and Firdous Ahmad Khan, who fell to the CRPF firing, determine the persons responsible for the said deaths, fix responsibility for use of excessive force, if any, and report back to the government with the findings within one month. Earlier during the day on Saturday, the chief minister held an emergency meeting with a group of ministers and senior civil and police officers to review the situation. In a statement, Mr Abdullah said that his government is “concerned, conscious and vigilant”. He asserted that while no human rights violations will be tolerated, the “perpetuators, instigators and disruptive elements” will be dealt with severely. He asked the concerned authorities to take “proactive preventive measures” and be “careful” so that no innocent civilians fall victim to violence. The chief minister laid stress on the need to strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) laid down to deal with any situation, particularly with the light of the recent developments. He said, “The death of any innocent civilian is a cause of deep concern for the government. However it can’t afford to be complacent against those who want to be a law unto themselves and disturb the peace and tranquillity in the state.” He reiterated that his government is committed to maintaining peace and order and shall take strong measures against those elements “who for their own political considerations and vested interests want to exploit and misguide the youth of the state”.