A press release from the JAMMU AND KASHMIR COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY
8 JULY 2011: Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), welcomes the recent judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India in which it has struck down as ‘unconstitutional’ the practice of arming local tribal youth of Chattisgarh as Special Police Officers (SPOs) in order to fight the Maoists. It has asked the Chattisgarh state government to:
· immediately stop using SPOs,
· recall all firearms distributed to them,
· desist from funding the recruitment of any other vigilante groups,
· ensure the filing of FIRs into criminal activities committed by them, and
· offer protection to those who need
The recent Supreme Court judgment is a clear guidance, binding all the states in India for not using the unconstitutional methods for dealing with political or armed dissent.
Chief Minister, Mr. Omar Abdullah while responding to the Supreme Court judgment on Special Police Officers (SPOs) in Naxal-hit areas said that the judgment is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir as the SPOs in the state were part of the regular police force. Mr. Abdullah has conveniently chosen to forget the genesis of these forces.
The judgment is more relevant to the Jammu and Kashmir state where the idea of privatization of human rights violations was conceptualized and crystallized. In early 90’s the government used the services of known human rights violators or people with the history of violence. Massive human rights abuses have taken place at the hands of counter insurgent groups like Ikhwan ul Muslimoon, Muslim Mujahideen, and the Village Defence Committees who were later integrated or accommodated in regular forces like Territorial Army and the Special Police Officers. It is no secret for people of Jammu and Kashmir that persons with criminal past and present have been recruited consciously for the posts of SPOs.
The Chief Minister’s statement tantamounts to questioning the article 141 of the Indian constitution, which makes binding the Supreme Court judgments on all the states.
JKCCS urges the government of Jammu and Kashmir to implement this Supreme Court order and disband all the armed groups patronized by the state. SPOs, VDCs, Territorial Army units, other small groups and individuals who have let loose a reign of terror in the state and are responsible for heinous crimes should be immediately disbanded; all their firearms recalled; and the government should ensure that FIRs are filled into criminal activities committed by these persons.
If the state fails to implement the arbiter dicta of the judgment, JKCCS will file the writ application in the court for the implementation of the Supreme Court judgment in Jammu and Kashmir.
Adv. Parvez Imroz
Adv. Parvez Imroz
See also: Kashmir Times editorial: SOG is the mother of Salwa Judum