The ‘Collective Conscience’ of Kashmir Dismissed

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The 9 February 2013 hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru remains consistent with past conduct of the Indian State in relation to Jammu and Kashmir.

A conviction affirmed despite serious lapses in the trial. The execution carried out in absolute secrecy – the family of Mohammad Afzal Guru being cruelly informed of the execution a few days later. No opportunity provided to Afzal Guru to challenge the rejection of the mercy petition. An absolute shut down in Jammu and Kashmir. The message from  the  India is clear – there will be no right of mourning for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and “law and order” will be maintained at all costs– and as of date this has led to three killings of civilians and countless injured. Peaceful protests in New Delhi have been met with brute force, executed by the colluding forces of the State and right-wing extremists.

At the same time, ex-Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, Kuldeep Khoda, accused of serious human rights violations [confirmed by Crime Branch findings] is awarded and will be the first Chief Vigilance Commissioner. While Afzal Guru has been executed to satisfy a “collective conscience”, perpetrators of crimes in Jammu and Kashmir have never been prosecuted. The Indian State has not deemed it fit to even respond to the recently released IPTK/APDP that names 500 alleged perpetrators of crimes in Jammu and Kashmir. But, shamelessly, as in the case of Kuldeep Khoda and many others, they have been awarded and rewarded. India therefore enforces its law to persecute the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but ensures the protection of State perpetrators in its larger design to control territory.

Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society condemns the execution of Afzal Guru and the brutal clamp down following it. Mohammad Afzal Guru did not receive adequate legal representation and material factual contradictions in the trial record, while noted were dismissed. Post-execution, all moral and legal compulsions continue to be of no significance to the State.

First, the dead body of Mohammad Afzal Guru must be returned to his family. The Indian State has no moral or legal right over it. The return of his body immediately is a basic, common demand.

Second, from the clamp down on communications to the brutality witnessed on the streets of Jammu and Kashmir, it is clear that the victimization of people by the State continues. Using the veil of “law and order” concerns the India cannot circumvent the basic rights of the people. Further, the ban on communications is in effect a ban on information. The direct result of this is a stronger sense of impunity for State forces to carry out further human rights violations. This brutality must end.

The conduct of the Indian State from the trial to execution of Afzal Guru, in thousands of other cases of human rights abuses and in the present and continuing phenomenon of denial of civil and political rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir, makes them legally culpable.

Adv. Parvez Imroz
Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society

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