A Step Towards Justice For One Kashmiri Family

A Step Towards Justice For One Kashmiri Family

20 September 2013
Voice of America
Aru Pande

Srinagar: In what is being called an unprecedented decision, a court in Indian-controlled Kashmir recently held police responsible for the killing of a 12-year-old boy in a 2010 attack. The boy's family says the ruling gives hope for achieving justice and basic human rights in the disputed region. Three years ago, Wamiq Farooq went out to play cricket and never came home. Now, his parents and older brother Danish are only left with school photos, certificates and trophies. “He was really brilliant, seriously. I can’t explain how brilliant he was, how good of a student he was, seriously,' Danish said. 'I was really proud of him.” Farooq says his 12-year-old brother was playing with his friends in Indian-Kashmir’s main town Srinagar when police officers drove by and threw a teargas shell. It struck the back of Wamiq’s head and killed him. Witnesses say the attack was unprovoked, and in August, a local judge backed the family - issuing arrest warrants for the two officers for culpable homicide, saying police acted recklessly. Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq says the ruling sets an important precedent. “A commission of inquiry has to be sought into for all those killings, all those fake encounters, all the police brutality that has happened over these years,” he said. Wamiq Farooq was killed in January of 2010. That year saw deadly clashes between security forces and stone-throwing protesters. At least 100 people were killed, mostly demonstrators who were shot by police. Kashmir Inspector General of Police Abdul Ghani Mir says the deadly unrest of 2010 was a turning point for his force. “The J&K [Jammu and Kashmir] has learned its lessons,' he said. 'In the last three years, 2011, 2012 and 2013, there have been protests, there has been stone pelting, the incidents’ triggers have been there, these things have been there, but we have not seen that any killings have taken place during the protests because we have evolved our responses.” Political scientist Radha Kumar was one of three government-appointed mediators sent to Kashmir following the violence of 2010. She says there are fewer human rights violations now than a decade ago, but the government still must address people’s grievances. “Kashmiris showed a huge will in trying to put the events of 2010 behind them and move forward on tourism, economy and other issues. But when you say ‘behind them,’ it doesn’t mean that you are giving up on justice,” she said. Firdousa Farooq never gave up on justice for her son. “This is not just a win for me, but for the entire Kashmir. This is a win for all those who have experienced injustice and for those yet to come,' she said. 'Who knows how long this will go on?” Her legal battle over, Firdousa Farooq returns to her now quiet Kashmir home, still longing to hear the footsteps of a little boy whose life was cut short.