Army Chief Questions J&K Justice14 January 2011
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Raising questions on the fairness of the legal system in Jammu and Kashmir, Army Chief General V K Singh said here today that there are “various pressures” at work in the Valley that leave a question mark on the kind of justice that can be expected to be delivered. Speaking in context of the inquiry into the alleged Machhil fake encounter on the Line of Control in May last year in which three youths from Baramulla were gunned down, Singh said that the Army would complete its own inquiry into the matter before coming to a conclusion but suggested that the state’s judicial system would not be fair. “I don’t know how much you are aware of the legal system in the Valley. There are various pressures out there. You are aware of Mian Abdul Qayyum, who was president of the Bar Association and is now in detention. He has been rabidly anti-Indian,” General Singh said, responding to a question on why the Army was resisting a civil trial of officers and soldiers who have been accused in the alleged fake encounter. “With this kind of situation, what kind of justice would we expect or legal provisions would be followed, is the question mark. And that is why as per the laws and procedures laid down, we would like to complete our inquiry before we come to a conclusion,” the Army Chief said. Kashmir High Court Bar Association president Qayyum, who is currently in detention under the Public Safety Act, was in the forefront of the anti-security forces protests in Kashmir over the alleged Shopian rape and murder case in 2009. He had also filed a PIL in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on the issue. However, when the CBI gave a clean chit to security forces, he and his supporters disturbed court proceedings after which the CBI had to make its presentation inside the Chief Justice’s chambers. Elaborating on the probe in the issue, Singh said that the inquiry is progressing but got delayed due to certain legal wrangles. “It got delayed because of local courts putting a ban on the witnesses being made available to the Army. After that there were a lot of legal wrangles in getting the issue sorted out,” he said. The Army had initiated a probe last year on allegations that three innocent youths from Baramulla were killed in a false encounter on the Line of Control on May 12. While the army had said that the three were killed while they were trying to cross over with weapons and Pak currency, it was alleged that the youths had been handed over to the Army by a local informer and were killed. The allegations were mostly based on the statements of four witnesses, including a Territorial Army Jawan, Abas Hussein Shah. The inquiry was ordered after a series of protests in Baramulla over the killing that later triggered mass protests in the valley. The Army attached the Commanding Officer of the unit which carried out the operation and removed another officer, of the rank of Major, who was named as the main accused in the police complaint, from active duty pending the inquiry.