Tag Archives: extra-judicial killings

Kashmir Burns, Again

A hundred and twelve lives, most of them young, some very young, were lost in Kashmir when the army, paramilitaries and police forces opened fire on several occasions from June to September in 2010. That was only six years ago. The latest reports indicate that around twenty three lives have already been lost in the last two days alone, in the aftermath of state troopers, soldiers and paramilitaries firing at funeral protests, after Burhan Wani, a twenty two year old insurgent, who had acquired the aura of a folk hero in Kashmir, was killed in an ‘encounter’, along with two of his associates, on Friday morning in a village in Kokernag.

Several more people have sustained serious injuries. The body count is likely to rise. Curfews have returned, phone and internet links are suspended, but nothing seems to keep people from spilling out onto the streets, and unlike previous instances, the communications ban seems to be unworkable. No one can pretend that Kashmir is not in crisis, again, today.

The people in power, at the state and the centre, were different in 2010. Omar Abdullah, then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was offering mealy mouthed rationalizations for killing kids then, while Mehbooba Mufti, was weeping crocodile tears. It is the other way round right now. Omar is being ‘sensitive’, Mehbooba, who the roll of the dice has placed in the position of chief minister now, is ’sullenly’ presiding over a badly timed by-election victory. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was silent then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is playing percussion instruments in Africa now. If Nero played the harp while Rome burnt, Modi beats drums while Kashmir goes up in flames.

Continue reading Kashmir Burns, Again

Kashmir Under a State of Emergency: JKCCS

Guest Post by JKCCS : Jammu & Kashmir Coalition for Civil Society

Since the extra-judicial execution of Commander Burhan Wani and two other members of Hizbul Mujahideen, Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police have used excessive force to thwart the mourners from protesting and participating in the funeral processions of the slain militants. So far, around 17 civilians have been killed in Islamabad, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama districts, while as more than 350 people have been injured from across all districts of the Kashmir valley. There are reports that CRPF and Police have been involved in the destruction of movable and immovable properties. Curfew has been strictly imposed in all districts of Kashmir, but people are defying the curfew at various places.

It is shocking and painful that Indian armed forces have yet again unleashed terror on the mourners and protesters, resulting in massive civilian casualties. The police and armed forces appear to have free hand to kill, injure, torture and destroy property. The government of India and Jammu and Kashmir lack the will to institute a crowd control policy, which can ensure no or minimized civilian casualties. On the one hand armed forces are preventing the injured to be ferried to hospitals, at the same time senior police officials without any credible investigations have begun to accuse the dead and the injured for their own bloodshed. Additional Director General of Police, S.M. Sahai, yesterday in the press conference accused the protestors of looting the weaponry from the Police Station Damhal Hanjipora and then for using it against the police men. Government should reveal the names of those police personnel who were injured by the firearm used by the civilians and where are they being treated; otherwise Mr. Sahai claim is part of the regular government psy-ops. Continue reading Kashmir Under a State of Emergency: JKCCS

JKCCS Statement on Extra Judicial Killings by Army (Rashtriya Rifles) and Police in Handwara, Kashmir: Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society

Guest Post by Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society

On 12 April 2016, armed forces personnel of Indian Army’s 21 RR and Jammu and Kashmir police killed three persons – two young boys and an old woman – in Handwara, Kupwara District, and injured around 24 civilians. Initial reports suggest that the armed forces fired at civilians protesting against sexual violence directed at a minor girl in Handwara town by army personnel.

24 hours after these killings the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, and army spokesperson have only made statements that do not address the steps that must be immediately taken. The army spokesperson while regretting the killing has assured action and stated that it would need to be ascertained if the “standard operating procedures” have been followed. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has sought assurance from the Indian Defence Minister that action would be taken in this case. Meanwhile, it appears that the Jammu and Kashmir Police have recorded and uploaded a video of the victim of sexual violence exonerating the army and both the police and army have circulated this video widely, including to news channels.

First, the army personnel of 21 RR involved in the killings, including those present on the scene of crime and in command of 21 RR, and involved police personnel, must be immediately arrested for purposes of investigations. Arms, ammunition and any other physical evidence connected to the killings must be immediately seized. Arrest of armed forces personnel in Jammu and Kashmir is not barred by any law. No “standard operating procedures” need to be consulted, particularly as it appears from RTI information sought that no such SOP’s even exist for situations such as the instant one of protests. Further, this preliminary step in investigation does not require the intervention of the army, Defence Minister or any other authority. But, the move by the Chief Minister to approach the Indian Defence Minister does explain where political power vis-à-vis even law and order in Kashmir lies. Thus far, media reports suggest that ASI Mohammad Rafiq has been suspended. His suspension is not enough as the amount of violence witnessed by people yesterday is not possible to have been carried out by one police official. Therefore, other officials responsible from army and police should be arrested immediately.

Second, the Jammu and Kashmir Police must immediately suspend the Superintendent of Police, Handwara, Ghulam Jeelani Wani, subject to investigations in this case as his role in the killings would need to be ascertained. Further, it appears that the video of the victim of sexual violence, a minor, has been circulated to distract from the investigation of 21 RR personnel responsible for the killings. Further, the actual circulation of the video, and disclosure of the identity of the victim, would invite prosecution under criminal law and/or other disciplinary action for the Superintendent of Police and other police officials involved. The army circulation of the video must also be examined as on one hand they have regretted the killings but at the same time are deeply invested in prejudicing investigations against their personnel. The circulation of this video has serious ramifications for the security of the victim.

Lastly, but most importantly, due to the role of the police, particularly the Handwara police, over the last 24 hours, the investigation of this case must be immediately, at the very least, handed over to a senior police officer of another district, with no criminal allegations against him.

Past crimes committed by the armed forces have been buried in a manner similar to what we witness today in the case of the Handwara killings. Following initial statements by the army and the State, no action is taken. The army claims to carry out an enquiry which is invariably not made public and is an essentially an attempt to take the case out of the public domain and protect the accused army personnel. It is pertinent to recall that in 2004 in Badra Payeen village, Handwara, when an army office was accused of rape of a mother and daughter, Mehbooba Mufti and then Chief Minister, Mufti Sayeed assured that the guilty officer would be punished. Mehbooba Mufti may have forgotten this case but people of Kashmir remember the case and also know that the accused officer was not tried by the civilian court but by army court-martial that did not convict him for rape and he was subsequently re-instated to the army. It appears the assurances by Mehbooba Mufti and the Indian Defence Minister in Handwara killings are no different from the standard role of the State in numerous cases, including the Badra Payeen case.

The Unknown Fate of Thousands in Sri Lanka: Leena Manimekalai

Guest post by LEENA MANIMEKALAI

‘By the wayside’

“This wreath/ with no name attached /is for you/who has no grave/ As the place of earth/ which embraced you/ could not be found/this wreath was placed by the wayside/Forgive me/ for placing a memorial for you/ by the roadside.”

…writes Basil Fernando about the memorial constructed by families of disappeared  at Radoluwa Junction in Seeduwa, a town near the city of Negombo, Srilanka.  When I visited the memorial with lingering faces of the disappeared, it signified an important attempt to keep the memories alive, a yearning to prevent recurrence of mass disappearances and seek justice on behalf of the victims of disappearances and their families. Srilanka which has a deep and complex history of political violence is struggling to redeem the past with a frozen present and a black hole future. Communal riots, political assassinations and ethnic conflict have been an element of the socio-political landscape of this tear nation for more than a century. Two heads of State, dozen national political leaders and numerous regional and local politicians, journalists, activists and artists have been assassinated by groups representing virtually every shade of political spectrum. The Srilankan state deploys disappearances and extra judicial killings as an instrument of public policy in the name of State Emergencies, Prevention of Terrorism Act, dubbing of persons as terrorists, unpatriotic, enemies of state. Brutal suppression of two armed insurrections in the Sinhala South in 1971-72, 1987-89 led by Peoples Liberation Front (JVP) and an armed Tamil Separatist Movement  since 1970s led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Tamil North and East of the island had spotted Srilankan state guilty of horrific human rights abuses. Now the nation is the world leader in number of disappeared crossing millions who have no date of death, no place of death, no body, and no grave or funeral rites. Obviously there is no shelling, no bombing in the island since 2009 and the State wants the world to believe that war is over but who will bring peace to the families who continue to lose their members to State Terror and also been denied their basic right to even open their mouth about the injustice. Continue reading The Unknown Fate of Thousands in Sri Lanka: Leena Manimekalai

The Azad Murder and the CPM: Biswajit Roy

Guest post by BISWAJIT ROY. Biswajit is a journalist based in Kolkata

The recent controversy over the Maoist top gun Cherukuri Rajkumar aka Azad’s killing by AP police has blurred the usual political division between the apostles of state security and human rights groups. P Chidambaram and AP police chief churned out the usual encounter death theory, but the Maoists and Mamata Banerjee as well as union home minister’s emissary to the rebels, Swami Agniwesh called it a cold-blooded murder and demanded judicial inquiry.

In the wake of Chidambaram’s refusal to ask Rosaiah government to go for a judicial probe, the Outlook investigation into Azad’s death and the forensic experts’ opinion on his post-mortem report only reinforced the suspicion about the fake encounter. While it is yet to be clear whether Azad will become Congress’s Sohrabuddin, CPM’s position on the issue is interesting if not unpredictable.

The CPM made a full-throated condemnation of the killing of Sohrabuddin and his wife by the Gujarat-Rajasthan cops and demanded punishment of Narendra Modi’s protégé and former state home minister Amit Shah for masterminding the murder. Also, the party general secretary Prakash Karat condemned the ‘brutal policing’ against the stone-pelting youth in the valley while counting the mounting toll of young lives during his recent visit to Srinagar. He demanded curbing of the ‘draconian’ provisions of Armed Forces Special Power Act which confer licence to kill while asking the Centre to ‘stop repression and start dialogue’.

But when it comes to Maoists, the Marxists heavyweights kept mum over Azad’s mysterious death – in the parliament and outside and virtually accepted the police version about his death. Pressed about the CPM’s stand on Azad death controversy, its leaders spoke with a forked tongue. The party central committee member and Bengal spokesman, Md Selim was evasive.
He said his party always wanted Centre to reveal ‘truth’ about all such deaths. But he stopped short of supporting the police version on Azad’s end arguing that they had ‘no information to counter the police claims’ or buttress the demand for judicial probe.

Continue reading The Azad Murder and the CPM: Biswajit Roy