Cowardly punishment to college principal

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State Government has attached the Principal of Government Degree College, Pulwama Prof Abdul Hamid Sheikh following the police raid on the institution that triggered the widespread student protests. This had forced the government to order the colleges shut and also snap the mobile internet. The trouble had started when the government last week set up a security check point near the Pulwama college. And just when the students started protesting against the naka, the police went inside the campus and fired tear gas shells at them which led to scores of them getting injured.

The government thus created another provocation for mass protests in an already charged environment. Around 60 students had been injured in the police assault on the college. And when student protests broke out all across the Valley in response to the college crackdown and the thrashing of the students, 70 more students were injured in the police action. But all that the government has done is to scapegoat the college principal and attach him. There has been no other accountability for a failure which was essentially the government’s own.   The takeaway from the incident is deeply troubling. For one, injuring around 150 students seems to be no big deal. Nor does it warrant any probe, let alone the punishment for the forces responsible for the excessive use of force.

But yes, the government has promptly moved to attach the principal. All he had allegedly done was to ask the police not to enter the college premises. This is very cowardly on the part of the government to act against him. More so, when the same government can hold nobody accountable for the killings of children with only stones in their hands. In fact, this government doesn’t even put up a pretence of ordering a probe. And which may be good too. And in a way, honest also. As all these probes wind up in a dustbin.

The enquiry commission into 2010 killings is a case in point. The commission was shelved by the government in 2014. The then government refused to grant extension to the Commission despite the request from its head, Justice (Retd) Bashir-u-Din to be given more time to finalize the report.  According to an interview, Justice Bashir-ud-Din said that the incomplete report had

indicted several police and paramilitary personnel. The terms of reference of the Commission which was constituted several weeks into the 2010 unrest had included inquiry into the circumstances leading to deaths by firing or otherwise into the 17 incidents, fix responsibility wherever excessive force has been used resulting in deaths, suggest measures to avert the recurrence of such incidents in future and recommend the action to be taken against the persons or authorities found responsible for this.   But it was not to be. The strategy, it appears, is to do nothing and expect the killings by the forces during the unrest or otherwise to fade out of public memory.

But this is something that is never going to happen. The 2008, 2010 and 2016 killings have become etched in people’s minds as reference points for the general immunity for the human rights abuse in the state. And on this there is little difference between the Army and paramilitaries which claim exemption from prosecution for excesses under AFSPA and the state government which calls for revocation of the Act to help bring them to book.

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