Minister's Confession

On Friday, March 14 another Kashmiri youth, Farhat Ahmad Dar lost his life to police bullets, in Naidkhai area of Bandipore district. This is not the first time that a Kashmiri has been killed in such circumstances. Over the last two decades, thousands of Kashmiris have been killed, with hardly any perpetrator ever being punished.

The same old pattern followed this killing that Kashmiris have now grown used to: The Sate declared curfew not only in Bandipore but some other parts of the Sate as well: the separatists called for a valley wide shutdown: some criticism by them and condolence messages and finally the setting up of a magisterial probe into the incident.

The curfew continued in Bandipore district as youth breached these restrictions and raised slogans against this killing. Defying restrictions, people in various parts of the district including Naid Khai defied restrictions and took pout processions. They were demanding action against the policemen involved in the killing of Farhat Ahmad.

Soon after the killing of the youth on Friday evening, Deputy Commissioner Bandipore Dr Shah Faisal had ordered a magisterial probe into the incident and had said that Additional Deputy Magistrate would undertake the probe. It hasn’t cut much ice with the people and for obvious reasons. People in Kashmiri know that most of these enquiries are just time buying tactics and to deflect attention from the incident. Once things settle down, everyone forgets about it and life goes on. That is the tragedy of Kashmir. It is not only the carte blanche that the police and security forces yield, but a hapless population at their mercy and an indifferent and callous Govt which compounds the problems.

It is not only the common masses in Kashmir who don’t believe in these enquiries, but this time criticism has come even from a Minister of the ruling coalition and a senior member of the National Conference Mohammed Akbar Lone. Mr Lone, who holds the portfolio of the Minister for Higher education, said that he does not have faith in such Commissions and demanded that a sitting or a retired High Court Judge be nominated to probe the killing of Farhat Ahmed Dar. “I know what will be result of magisterial probe. It is a futile exercise. We all know what happened to Markandal probe. I don’t have faith in such commissions and even people have lost faith in such commissions as they are ordered to buy time and cool public tempers,” said Mr Lone. This statement by the minister may have come out of political compulsions, given that elections are coming up later this year and this incident took place in his electoral constituency, but one cannot dispute his argument.  

The Chief Minister, Mr Omar Abdullah, has at various stages, made token noises about revoking AFSPA, at least from some parts of the valley. He has also said many times that it is because of AFSPA that security forces and Army personnel cannot be brought to justice since it gives them impunity. But one wonders what stops Mr Abdullah from firmly dealing with excesses committed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police against civilians. It seems this present govt has raised official apathy and indifference to the level of an art form.

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