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Plight of Kashmiri Prisoners

Posted: November 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

kashmiri-prioners

V.R. Krishna Iyer (J) has rightly observed : “In our world prisons are still laboratories of torture, warehouses in which human commodities are sadistically kept and where spectrums of inmates range from drift-wood juveniles to heroic dissenters.

It is established that conviction for a crime does not reduce the person into a non-person, so he is entitled to all the rights, which are generally available to the non-prisoner. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that he is not entitled for any absolute right, which is available to a non-prisoner citizen but subject to some legal restrictions. The Supreme Court of United States as well as the Indian Supreme Court has  held that prisoner is a human being, a natural person and also a legal person. Being a prisoner he does not cease to be a human being, natural person or legal person. Conviction for a crime does not reduce the person into a non person, The courts which send offenders into prison, have an onerous duty to ensure that during detention, detenues have freedom from torture.  William Black has said “Prisons are built with stones of Law”. So, when human rights are harassed behind the bars, constitutional justice comes forward to uphold the law.The life of an offender cannot be jeopardized by indulging in illegal physical torture by the jail authorities.

In  Sanjay Sun v Delhi Administration, AIR 1988 SC 414, The Supreme Court was not happy with the attitude of prison authority and suggested that the prison authorities should change their attitudes towards prisoners and protect their human rights for the sake of humanity.

The Article 5 of the UDHR, states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. There are words that crop up again. They mean severe beatings on the body and the soles of the feet with rubber hoses and truncheons, electronic shocks being run through the genitals and tongue, near-downing, hanging arms and legs, cigarette bums over the body, sleep deprivation or subjection to a high pitched noise and much more.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed that “right to life is one of the basic human rights. Even when lodged in jail, he continues to enjoy all his fundamental rights including the right to life guaranteed to him under the Constitution. On being convicted of crime and deprived of their liberty in accordance with the procedure established by law, prisoners shall retain the residue of the constitutional rights. This right continues to be available to prisoners and those rights cannot be defeated by pleading the old and archaic defence of immunity in respect of sovereign acts which have been rejected several times by the Supreme Court”. State is liable for the death of undertrial who continues to enjoy all fundamental rights including right to life.

Thousands of Kashmiri prisoners languish in jails across many parts of India. youth are taken away as prisoners and lodged in various prisons throughout India. Kashmiri political prisoners, most of them according to family members have been implicated in false cases are presently in the jails of Rajasthan, Varanasi, Bengaluru, Gujarat and other jails of India.

Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights (JKCHR) submitted a document to Secretary General UN on the plight of Kashmiri prisoners held in Tihar jail New Delhi as UN General Assembly Document titled A/HRC/36/NGO/52 at the 36th session of Human Rights Council,

The document submitted under agenda item 3 of the 36th session of the Council which started its session in Geneva, pointed out that there are 19 Kashmiris have been serving life imprisonment in Tihar jail, New Delhi.

Mohammad Hussain Fazili who was  released in February 2017,after spending 12 years in jail, reported that they are forced to urinate in each other’s mouth.

Fazili said to media that “We were forced to drink urine and eat human waste along with bread. Rats were put in their trousers. As if it was not enough, he said, pigs were let loose to lick their mouth and face. At the same time, cops used to push water and bread into our mouth. We thought since we were Kashmiris and Muslims, it was the only reason for facing such torture.

Recently, The Joint Resistance Leadership had approached the JKSHR commission with a petition maintaining that the rights of Kashmiri prisoners were being violated in jails. The petition filed before the commission on November 3, this year, had sought instructions to restore the dignity of Kashmiri political prisoners languishing in different prisons.

In New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, the Kashmiri inmates are being even deprived of basic rights to survive and no medical treatment is being provided to them, nor are they being allowed to meet their kith and kin, the petition said. It said that Kathua Jail in Jammu had become a torture centre where Kashmiri inmates are deprived of human contact for many months. This amounts to punishment beyond prison time and it is inhuman, it added

According to Media Reports, On the night of November 21, a team of Tamil Nadu Special Police (TSP) allegedly beat up at least 18 inmates of Tihar Jail’s High Risk wards ‘C’ and ‘F’. The inmates sustained severe injuries. Many of the injured prisoners were Kashmiris serving detention in Tihar Jail, among them Shahid Yousuf, son of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.

On 28th of Novemeber Advocate Syed Mujtaba , A Renowned Human Rights Defender on behalf of President lawyers club president Adv Babar Qadri , lodged the complaint in NHRC new delhi against the jail authorities of Tihar, the petitioners expressed serious concern about the miserable and inhuman treatmentmeted out to Kashmiri prisoners in tihar. In the petition , safety and security, proper health care was demanded to be ensured.

Therefore, the existing legal structure of the prisons administration has to be changed, Criminal law should be amended, a new Prisons Act should be enacted and all Jail Manuals need to be Reviewed and Revised. Most importantly Indian Judiciary must continue to play its constructive and active role in prison justice.

Author is A Human Rights defender from Kashmir and can be mailed at jaan.aalam@gmail.com

http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/11/29/plight-of-kashmiri-prisoners/

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 APDP maintains that 8,000 people have disappeared in the decades-old conflict [Shuuaib Masoodi/Al Jazeera]
APDP maintains that 8,000 people have disappeared in the decades-old conflict [Shuuaib Masoodi/Al Jazeera]

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – The state-run human rights commission has told the government in Kashmir to investigate at least 2,080 unmarked mass graves discovered in border areas of the restive region.

The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), a human rights group in Kashmir, told the commission there were 3,844 unmarked graves – 2,717 in Poonch and 1,127 in Rajouri, twin districts in the region that lie along Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed territory between Indiaand Pakistan.

In response, the commission acknowledged the presence of 2,080 unmarked graves and asked the government for a comprehensive investigation to be completed in six months, including DNA tests of the bodies to compare it with family members of the disappeared.

In 2011, the commission directed the government to investigate the mass graves. At the time, a special team from the commission said 2,730 unidentified bodies were buried in 38 sites across northern Kashmir.

“The commission has no hesitation to issue the same directions, which were already issued in the case,” the recent order said.

Thousands disappeared

APDP maintains 8,000 people have disappeared in the decades-old conflict, and accuses government forces of staging gun battles to cover up killings.

The association welcomed the commission’s latest demand to investigate mass graves in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state.

“It is an acknowledgement from the institution that is run by the government. It provides further legal remedies for the family members of missing,” Khurram Parvez from APDP told Al Jazeera.

“We have been demanding that there be an independent commission to do a credible probe on the mass graves.”

Parvez said the probe might give an “answer” to families of disappeared who do not know whether their relatives are dead or alive.

“We have done a study of 53 cases for a report where the bodies were exhumed from unknown graves. It was found that 49 bodies in the graves were of civilians and one was a local militant, three bodies were unknown. These people were dubbed as foreign militants by the government,” Parvez said.

Since 2011, instead of complying with directions from the human rights commission, the government continues to avoid such an investigation on the pretext it would lead to a “law and order problem” in Kashmir, APDP said in a statement.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution in July 2008 and called on India’s government ensure independent and impartial investigations into all mass graves, APDP said.

Officials contacted by Al Jazeera declined to comment on Friday.

The state government has said most of the missing were likely Kashmiri youths who crossed into Pakistan for weapons training. Those comments have been dismissed by family members of the disappeared.

‘Emotional closure’

Tahira Begum, 39, from Baramulla whose husband disappeared in 2002, said if the government investigates the graves it would provide “emotional closure” to family members.

“We want to know whether our family members are buried in these graves. At least, we will get an address to mourn,” she told Al Jazeera.

Tahira said she had to leave her three sons in an orphanage after her husband disappeared.

“My kids would run from school and ask me where their father is. For years, I told them he has gone for work outside. But as time passed, I couldn’t lie to them any more.”

Her husband disappeared after leaving home for work and never returned. “I went everywhere to look for him but failed. I just want an answer – what happened to him,” she said.

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety.

Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Indian-administered portion to become independent or merge with Pakistan.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown. India maintains about 500,000 soldiers in the territory.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep among Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most support rebels against Indian rule despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight the armed rebellion.

India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, allegations that Pakistan denies.

Rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian security forces in recent years, and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/india-ordered-probe-3800-mass-graves-kashmir-l

NEWS

Srinagar: Independent MLA Engineer Rasheed while condemning the attack on Amarnath Pilgrims said that Kashmiris don’t need lesions on Kashmiriyat (Kashmiri ethos) from those who kill Muslims in the name of cow.

Rasheed, who heads the Awami Itihaad Party while addressing a function in Hadwara said, “Kashmiris don’t need lessons of non violence and Kashmiryat from those who have martyred one lakh Kashmiris during last 27 years.”

He added, “Believing in religious harmony is in our genes. Every Kashmiri condemns the brutal act and being themselves the victims of violence, they can feel the pain of the bereaved families far better than those calling Kashmiris radicals and Wahabis from their TV studios and cozy rooms.”

He stressed that people who are killing Muslims in the name of the cow, should not ask Kashmiris to condemn the attack.

“Those killing Muslims in the name of cows should not give sermons to Kashmiris and ask them to condemn the attack.  May one ask what Kashmiris can do as nothing is in their hands. From an ordinary police cop to Indian Prime Minister, nobody cares about them and hurts them on and off,” Rasheed said.

Rasheed also pointed out if lakhs of troopers have been deployed to protect Yatris, how did the attack take place.

“How can the Government run away from the responsibility of its failure to achieve the goal of protecting Yatris,” Rasheed asked.

The independent lawmaker said that there are dozens of examples when Kashmiris have helped Amarnath pilgrims and have great respect for the Yatra.

He however questioned that ‘fanatics’ need to answer why the Yatra was politicised by ‘forcing’ Yatris to hoist the tri-colour in Pahalgam.

“Why is Yatra also being politicized and who forced Yatries to hoist a tri-color at Pahalgam during their way to Yatra despite knowing that the atmosphere is charged and completely against in Indian state,” Rasheed accused.

http://freepresskashmir.com/2017/07/11/kashmiris-dont-need-lessons-on-kashmiriyat-from-people-who-kill-in-the-name-of-cow/

NEW DELHI: When there is a vacuum, even a tentative effort to fill it is welcome. At least in theory and in the abstract. But when it is applied to volatile Kashmir, where the students of schools are now leading the protests across the Valley, and local youth-turned-militants are openly appearing to give four gun salutes to slain colleagues the little is so insignificant that it can do more harm than good in immediate terms. As if it fails, as it will without sufficient nerve and strategy, it will close even the tiny option that is available at this present juncture.

2017 has changed the nature of protests in Kashmir with now the separatists barely being heard from, except for the odd statement. Till 2016, despite the deep provocation of pellet guns that killed and maimed young people all across, the Hurriyat leaders were still able to retain control over the protests with their strike calls, and protest calls being heeded. But they sensed they were losing control, and as some of them told this writer, “we have no choice but to follow the mass sentiment and keep calling for strikes, as if we don’t no one will listen to us, and you can imagine what will happen then.” The fear amongst the separatist leaders then, as it is indeed now, is that the rebellion will become armed, and that will lead Kashmir and of course India to a situation far worse than the dark days of the early 1990’s.

Three highly significant shifts have taken place in the last few weeks. And this is major by any standards applied to conflict zones.


One, these columns had earlier noted the increasing attendance of local masses in funerals of militants. Till even two years ago such funerals barely drew a crowd. Now in the past weeks, the shift has the masses from not just affected, but also the neighbouring areas, gathering for the funeral of any person killed by the forces in an encounter, or a clash in above the waist firing. But increasingly so the masses are also emerging from their homes to prevent the encounters from taking place, walking determinedly to the spot in a bid to rescue the militants—usually locals now—with the government forces finding it difficult to cope. This is happening repeatedly, even as the spate of ‘encounters’ increase along with the increasing ‘search operations’ launched by the Army.

Two, students have taken over the protests all across the state. Young school children, including girls in large numbers, have taken over literally, clashing with the armed police and the Army, throwing stones, being injured or killed, and yet continuing the fierce demonstrations. This was not so earlier with the stone pelters young adults, with only a few young teenagers visible in the protesting crowds. Now young school students are in the lead, or active participants in direct clashes with the armed government forces. The defiance and the absence of fear for their own lives is the part of the new, more lethal resistance that is building—or indeed has been built—in Kashmir in the absence of even a minimalist ‘reach out’ strategy by the ruling political powers.

Three, as the photographs attached to this article show, the young militants are appearing without masks as such funerals to give a ‘gun salute’ to their fallen comrades. Sources said that militants are now largely local, with the Kashmir protests acquiring a local resistance hue.

Retired Army generals with experience in Kashmir have been writing about the need for a dialogue. The apprehension in the forces is of the return to a situation where the political masters sit back, and actually preside over a direct confrontation between the people and the Army, a situation that most democracies would like to avoid. The Army in India has never been happy about such situations, and even during counter insurgency operations in Kashmir in the 1990s the push was always to get the political leadership to take over control of the areas cleared by the troops. A senior General, now retired and close to the current dispensation in Delhi, told this writer earlier of how necessary dialogue was, and how essential for the political governments to take ownership of the state “instead of leaving management to the Army.” He has not repeated these words in recent months. But others have, with some generals being attacked mercilessly by right wing trolls for even suggesting dialogue.

It is clear that the BJP government is clinging on the sledgehammer as the only approach in its strategic bag. The Opposition knows this, and is making some tentative moves to come together on the issue of Kashmir. The Congress that had completely dropped the idea of the talks—started initially by former Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee with all sections of Kashmiris—has set up a panel to explore the resumption under Dr Manmohan Singh. Others are in talks with the Congress, including BJP leader Yashwant Sinha who has been insisting on talks as the only option. However, it remains to be seen where this effort goes, as many involved, are still hesitant and tentative about their own position on the border state.

If the Opposition steps in it will have to carry its intervention to its logical conclusion, as a start-finish operation will add to the alienation and the despondency in the Valley. It will make it apparent that even the Opposition parties have no strategy for talks, and are not prepared to think out of the box in dealing with the state that is now literally in the throes of what many young people there believe, a ‘do or die’ battle.

(Photographs AASIF SHAHI: 4 armed militants offer a gun salute to slain militant Fayaz Ahmed Ashwar alias Setha from Reshipora Qaimoh in Kulgam district of South Kashmir.)http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/4/10652/Kashmir-Fast-Turning-Into-a–Do-or-Die-Zone-3-New-Indicators

Kashmiri schoolgirls tend to a wounded girl after she was hit by a stone during a protest in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir on 20 April 2017. (Photo: AP)

Image result for Why Some Schoolgirls in Kashmir Are Picking Stones Over Books

Stone-pelting in Kashmir has dominated headlines for a while now. But the third week of April saw the birth of a new face of rebellion, with young girls taking to the front-lines of the protest.

School-going girls picked up stones and stood their ground against gun-toting men in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk. Dressed in school uniforms, and standing tall with bags on their backs, they covered their faces and proclaimed loudly that they had had enough of being told how to lead their lives. The Quint reached out to schoolgirls who had taken to stone pelting on 24 April.

 

“We are not scared. If the boys can come out to protest, so can we,” said Rumaisa (name changed), a 17-year-old student at Kothi Bagh Girls Higher secondary school. The girls seem undeterred by death. “Bullets don’t scare us anymore.”

Twenty-four people, including 12 security personnel, were injured on 17 April as students clashed with police, as colleges opened in Kashmir after a five-day shutdown. Such was the intensity of the protests that security personnel had to resort to using teargas shells inside the campus to bring the situation under control.

Students were seen shouting pro-azaadi slogans as they charged at the security personnel and hurled stones at policemen, who had arrived on the spot armed with teargas shells and pellet guns.

The violent protests first erupted on 15 April, when security forces allegedly raided a college in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district and assaulted students. At least 54 people were injured in the violence. Two days later, another round of student protests left more than 100 students hurt.

“We are protesting against the manhandling and beating up of students by security forces. The government is now targeting the student community,” said a student at the Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Soura. “If they attack us, we’ll fight back.”

Last week, Iqra (17) sustained a serious head injury after a policeman allegedly hurled a stone at her. Iqra was one of the 100 students from Women’s College, Nawakadal, who participated in a peaceful protest against the police action that had left dozens of college students in south Kashmir’s Pulwama injured.

“Our education is suffering, but how does that matter? Young boys and girls are getting killed. We won’t stop,” another girl student said. “This is going to continue so that eventually we can live peacefully. We can’t go on with our lives when we know our brothers and sisters are being systematically targeted. We can’t forget that Insha lost her eyesight. We can’t forget those 100 young boys who were killed last year.” she added.

Valley Unrest Hurts Education

Education has taken a major hit since the return of tensions in the Kashmir Valley since the summer of 2016. Dozens of government run and private schools were targeted by unidentified arsonists reducing them to smouldering pillars and charcoal frames.

(Adnan Bhat is a Srinagar based journalist.)

 https://www.thequint.com/india/2017/04/28/kashmir-school-girls-join-azaadi-protest-stone-pelters-2

Bloody Sunday

One of the bloodiest polling days in Kashmir’s recent history left 8 dead and over two hundred injured. Zubair Sofi manages to travel through the still seething Budgam to report the tragedies

Funeral of Omar Farooq, Barsoo Ganderbal (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

On the morning of April 9, 2017, Faizan Fayaz Dar, 14, a Class 7 student at local Darul-ul-Uloom, came home and asked his mother to serve breakfast quickly. He wanted to join his friends for a game of cricket at a nearby playground.

A few meters away from him home, a huge contingent of CRPF and police was stationed for polling duty in Government High School, Dalwan village in Budgam.

No one was aware about the pooling booth as it was pitched in the middle of the night.  

Faizan Fayaz Dar

“Faizan left in hurry as his friends were waiting for him in the play ground located next to the polling booth,” says Faizan’s father Fayaz Ahmad Dar, 30, who works as a labourer.

Located at the top of the Karewa Dawlan village overlooked the polling station below. “Villagers could easily see what was happening inside the school premises,” said Dar.

When locals saw CRPF personnels inside the school premises they marched towards the polling booth and asked them to leave. “It was done without any provocation from either side,” recalls Dar.

Locals said the forces asked for fifteen minutes time to wind up their voting machines and leave. “They went inside,” said Adil, a local boy who was playing cricket with Faizan.

After fifteen minutes people saw a large convoy of armed vehicles moving towards the polling station.

“I saw a policeman aiming his gun towards the school,” said Faizan’s friend Rahil. “He fired without any reason. Then he took aim and shot Faizan in the head.”

To save himself Rahil leaned on the ground. “They were firing like madmen. Another fire hit a boy standing next to us,” recalls Rahil. “Fazian was hit in the head. I could see blood coming out of his mouth as well.”

A woman, who was witnessing the scene from a distance, rushed in and wrapped her scarf around Faizan’s head.

As the news of CRPF firing at unarmed boys reached other parts of village, people came out and started pelting stones.

“One of Faizan’s friends came running and said Faizanas Ayei Kalas gouil (Fazian is hit by a bullet in his head),” recalls Dar. “Someone was holding my son in his lap. I checked him and he was dead.”

However huge presence of people around Faizan’s lifeless body forced Dar to take him to the hospital in nearby Pakharpora village. “Emotions were running high that time so I let them take him to the hospital,” said Dar.

Around 1:30 pm thousands of people rushed out to participate in Fazian’s funeral. “He was eldest among three siblings,” said Dar.

But Faizan was not the only one who had received bullet in Dalwan village. “It was difficult to recognize to recognize him but I still remember how badly his head was bleeding,” recalls Adil.

The boy was later identified as Mohmmad Abbas Rahter.

Abbas Rather

“He left home for a walk. Every day he would pick and drop me from my duty,” said Abbas’ father Fatehi Mohammad Rahter, who works in the police department. “I was waiting for him to drop at my office.”

When Abbas didn’t return, his father called on his phone.

“The call was received by some unknown person. I could hear lots of noise in the background as well,” said Abbas’ father. “He informed me that my son was shot in the head.”

Abbas’ father quickly rushed to the school where his son was lying in a pool of blood. Quickly he was rushed to the sub district hospital Chadoora. “They referred him to Srinagar hospital,” said Abbas’ father.

As ambulance carrying Abbas reached SMHS hospital in Srinagar, hundreds of people assembled around it and began shouting pro-freedom slogans.  “They declared him brought dead and handed over his blood drenched body,” said his father. Abbas was Class 10 student.

Abbas’ body was carried through narrow streets and taken for burial. On the way people showered flowers and candies on his funeral.

 

Shabir Ahmad Bhat

Shabir Ahmad Bhat, 20, a resident of Dawlatpora village in Chadoora, Budgam, called his father and asked him if it is safe to come home after he heard reports of clashes.

“I told him there were some minor clashes but it is safe now,” recalls Shabir’s father Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, 51, a labourer. “However I advised him to take a safer route.”

All the forces left from the polling booth which was held Government High School Dawlatpora.  of the same area was stuck in Duniwara after coming back from poultry farm.

At around noon, Shabir left his bike on the poultry farm, where he worked as a labourer, and came back home on foot. Once home he asked his mother to serve lunch.

After lunch he went for afternoon prayers in the local mosque.  “I called him and told him to meet me at our usual spot where we sit down and kill time,” says Shabir’s friend Javeed Ahmad Teli.

They sat down and began chatting about elections and situation in Kashmir. “We were joined by a few other friends,” said Teli. “A few minutes later we heard a few gunshots.”

The forces from the adjacent areas were coming back from polling booth to reach Chadoora from Dawlatpora.

“There was a huge convoy of forces vehicles. They were firing without any reason,” says Nisar Ahmad Bhat, Shabir’s cousin.

When the convoy reached Dawlatpora chowk, they fired towards a lane where Shabir and his friends were sitting.

“While we moved slowly and crossed the road, Shabir got stuck. He tried to run but then suddenly held his left hand on his chest and said Meai Ayyi Shayed Goil (I am hit probably),” recalls Teli.

Slowly Shabir fell down on his face, and blood started coming from his mouth, eyes and nose.

Nisar was on the other side of the road witnessing the entire scene but was helpless to do anything.

“There were four policemen escorting the army convoy and I saw one of them target Shabir,” Nisra recalls. “I saw him fire at Shabir.”

For first five minutes policemen didn’t let anybody near Shabir as he bled on the road. “We picked him only after they left,” recalls Nisar. “He was not moving at all. He breathed his last in my lap.”

However Shabir was taken to district hospital Chadoora where he was declared brought dead.

Shabir was buried in the evening. After the burial his father hosted a green flag on his grave which read: Shaheed tumse ye keh rahe hai, lahoo humara bula na dena (Martyrs are asking you, don’t forget our blood).

Shabir was the main earner of the family and elder among the four siblings – two sisters and one brother.

“I am proud father of a martyr. I feel lucky that my son didn’t die due to disease. He died fighting in the battle,” said Shabir’s father. “We shouldn’t wail, we must feel lucky, we have to be ready for such sacrifices if we really want freedom.”

Amir Ahmad

Around 10 kilometers away in Sogam village, Amir Ahmad Reshi, 17, was spraying pesticides in an apple orchard with his maternal uncle, when clashes erupted in the area.

The reason for clashes was refusal of election staff and CRPF to vacate Government High School, Sogam.

“We told them no one will vote here. It is useless to stay,” said Amir’s friend Bilal. “They agreed and left after handed over the keys. They left peacefully. Even they thanked us for our support.”

Everything was calm when suddenly a few police vehicles reached the village.  “As we were sitting at shop fronts and chatting we didn’t run,” Bilal recalls.

However to everybody’s surprise policemen started firing towards the people. “There was panic everywhere,” recalls Bilal. “I saw a policemen point his gun towards people and fire.”

Amir too started to run for cover when the policeman took aim and shot him in the head.

“A part of his brain fell on the ground. We rushed him to the sub district hospital Chadoora, where doctors declared brought dead,” said Bilal.

Amir was living in Sogam at his maternal home; his real home was at Dadwumpur an area of district Budgam. Amir was the second among his three siblings. “Amir was an outstanding student and wanted to become a doctor,” said Bilal.

On the north side of Budgam a polling booth in Ratsun area of Beerwah, became target of people’s ire. When then officials were asked to leave they sought ten minutes.

“Instead, they called additional forces and surrounded people from all sides,” said Sameer Mir. “This led to clashes.”

NIsar Ahmad Mir

Nisar Ahmad Mir, 25, hid himself behind a brick structure thinking he would be safe there.

“As he peeped out to see if the forces have left, a policeman directly shot him in the head,” recalls Sameer, a friend and an eyewitness. As he fell down other boys tried to save him. “But nobody was allowed to come closer.”

Somehow when people managed to take out Nisar, he was rushed to the sub district hospital Beerwah. He was declared brought dead there. His funeral was attended by thousands as he was laid to rest at the martyr’s graveyard.

Akeel Ahmad Wani

Four kms away in Ratsun village, an area Churumujru Beerwah, a handful of boys hurled stones at the polling booth.

A CRPF personnel, who was hiding behind the brickwork pointed his gun at Akeel Ahmad Wani, 19, and shot him thrice. The last shot hit Akeel in the face and bullet came out of his head. A video of the killing has gone viral on the internet.

“When we learned about Akeel, he was already taken to the primary health centre Gondipora, from where he was referred to sub district hospital Beerwah,” recalls Akeel’s uncle Gulzar.

He was declared brought dead by the doctors. “We reached there ten minutes after he was declared dead,” says Gulzar.

The car in which Akeel’s mother and sister were following his body was shot with pellets by the CRPF men near Sonpah village. Thousands of people from nearby villages came to attend Akeel’s funeral. Akeel was youngest among his four siblings.

Adil Farooq Sheikh

Adil Farooq Sheikh, 19, a resident of Kawoosa Kailsh area of Narbal in Budgam, was preparing for Common Entrance Test after finishing his Class 12 exams. His results are yet to be declared.

His father Farooq Ahmad Sheikh was not worried as clashes were going far from his home, so he thought his son is safe.

While chasing a few protestors forces ran through Adil’s house.

“Adil didn’t move when he saw CRPF men chasing youngsters,” said Farooq Ahmad Sheikh, his father. “Someone from the group suddenly aimed his gun at Adil and fired a few shots.”

It was a pellet shot that had hit Adil in his face and chest.

He was rushed to the JVC hospital, where he was declared brought dead. Adil was second son among his three siblings.

After polling staff began to leave at the end of the day some boys came out and started pelting stones at them in Baroosa village of Ganderbal. In retaliation CRPF men used teargas shells and live ammunition.

After hearing gunshots Amir Farooq Ganie, 22, a driver, quickly went outside to check the situation.

“As soon as he reached to the site of clashes, he saw people running to save themselves from bullets,” an eye witness said. “One bullet hit Omar in the chest.”

After forces left along with the polling staff people quickly took Omar to SKIMS Soura. He was declared brought dead by the doctors. Omar’s family alleged that hospital authorities didn’t handover his body immediately. His parents and two sisters had to wait till dawn to get his body home. A sole bread earner for his family Omar had brought a commercial vehicle a few months back.

On April 8, a minibus was hired to ferry government forces from civil secretariat Srinagar to Chanapora for poll duty.

Ali Muhammad Dagga

The driver Ali Mohammad Daga, 55, was accompanied by the bus owner Ghulam Mohammad Wagay.

He took Batamaloo route to reach Chanapora. There was stone pelting at Batamaloo. Daga had a narrow escape.

Daga took Bemina by-pass route to reach Chanapora, after reaching Tengpora. There were stone pelting too. One of the stones landed on Daga’s front shield and another hit his head.

He lost control over the vehicle and hit the divider.

“Daga and Wagay were taken to the nearest city hospital where Daga was declared brought dead. The dead body was taken to the police control room for autopsy and later handed over to the family,” SHO Batamalo Parvaiz Ahmad said.

Daga is survived by his wife Rafiqa, one daughter Haneefa, and only son Mohammad Yousuf Daga.

THE CITIZEN BUREAU

NEW DELHI: Lt General Harcharanjit Singh Panag, retired from the Indian Army, has been in the news since he tweeted,”image of a ‘stone pelter’ tied in front of a jeep as a ‘human shield’,will 4 ever haunt the Indian Army&the nation!” This let the trolls out and the General was abused and questioned on the social media, with motives being hurled. He took this in his stride, and when The Citizen caught up with him in New Delhi for an interview he brushed the controversy aside saying he was a Twitter veteran. Is he deterred by the viciousness of the attack? He laughed with a “no question of it.”

The interview moved from the tweet, to the Indian Army, to inevitably Jammu and Kashmir.

Excerpts:

Q, What provoked that tweet?

A, (Laughs) Well the Indian army has been conducting counter insurgency campaigns right from 1956– Nagaland, then Mizoram, North East—and since 1989-1990 in Jammu and Kashmir. What distinguishes the Army’s counterinsurgency approach vis a vis all the other armies of the world is that we follow the law of the land. Of course we have the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to protect us but we follow the law of the land. We are the only Army in the world which has been successful in containing insurgency. Mizoram is a classic example. Nagaland–I am talking of the firstNagaland Accord…Manipur… And even in Jammu and Kashmir the situation was brought under control by 2010 and still remains under control. We have followed Army rules and regulations, and when there have been complaints, there have been investigations and over a 100 officers and other ranks have been court martialled and punished for violations.

But this image of a man tied in front of a vehicle not only presented a pathetic image of the treatment of civilians, but also it is a defining image, as defining as some of the images of the Vietnam war. And it is for the whole world to see. I would say that this image will be at the centre of the conscience of the international community and the Indian public. That is why it was so disturbing to me. For the first time I am seeing such a blatant example of human rights violation…

Q. Did you expect this huge response to the one tweet, a lot of it anti- of course

A, Let me put it this way when you are on social media, particularly Twitter on which i have been active for some years, it becomes a no hold barred kind of response, a twitter war starts, this is my 10th or 12th twitter war.

Also ta lot of people with extreme right views are now active on the social media, they have very extreme views on nationalism and also they have placed the army at the centre stage of defining nationalism, as to what nationalism in their view is . Anything you say against the Indian army is also seen as a criticism of nationalism, and of the country.

So this is a very discernible trend I have noticed and consequently even a person like me who has spent 40 years in the Army, in an Army command, also operated in Jammu and Kashmir, comes in their line of fire. For example any suggestion you make which is critical—even of reforms in the ordinary conventional functioning of the Army– is seized upon by the right wing supporters and it becomes a kind of confrontation. And that is how it is.

Q. How do you define nationalism as a soldier?

A, The Indian Army is a patriotic institution. The word nationalism has got a different connotation and I would say that it really does not apply to the armed forces. The Armed Forces are very patriotic, we adhere to the Indian Constitution, what is enshrined in the Constitution.

Q. What do you feel about the increasing trend to deploy the Army in situations within the country?

A, Earlier it was generally believed the armed forces are for foiling external aggression. And to tackle insurgency they would come for a short while and go back. And as the state police failed to handle the situation, the Army was brought in more and more, but the understanding was that the Army would be there for a short while. But what happened, as in Jammu and Kashmir and the North east also, although elections were held and governments came to power in the state, at no time were we able to define a military end state, or for that matter a political end state.

So since the military end state was not defined it seemed to continue for ever. The military is there and we feel that if the military is removed the state will go back to bad times. This hampers the civilian government from functioning, it also creates another authority that is prevailing in a state, and the impact of the long term presence of the Army in a state is resented by the people. And instead of poor administration and the poor policing earning the ire of the people, it is the Indian Army that faces the ire, and this I feel is the biggest harm that has been done to the image of the Army.

But having said this, I must also say the entire spectre of conflict has undergone a change and there is an overlap taking place all the time. The term that has now become popular now is hybrid warfare, that every war will involve all these things simultaneously. So a situation like Kashmir may have an insurgency, may have a civil disobedience dimension, mass agitations and also an element of conventional war. So if it is going to be hybrid warfare then I suppose there is no option but for the Army to remain involved, and also to learn the nuances and master these.

In Jammu and Kashmir, if not be design, then at least our functional approach we have learnt this and are prepared to deal with the hybrid nature of the conflict.

Q. Has the Indian Army been impacted by politicisation like many other institutions?

We are probably a real reflection of our Constitution. I have never felt that within the army there is any kind of discrimination in terms of race, colour, caste, religion.We respect and honour all. In every organisation there are imperfections, but these have been aberrations. Army has been free of all this. The Army has never involved itself in the politics of the country, except for voting, we remain aloof.

Q. So how do you see Jammu and Kashmir panning out?

There are aklways two angles to conflict –one is the military angle, one is the political angle. All conflict, all insurgencies are fought for a political gain, both by the state but also the insurgents. For of course different motives. The state wants to establish its supremacy and ensure the well being of the people; the insurgents want to gain control. The general public is caught in a bind, it has a sentiment against the government for past issues because of which the insurgency started in the first place; at the same time it wants stablity, a normal life, want to raise children, well being…

The second part is the military aspect, the terrorists fight the military to bring it down to convince the people that they call the shots. The state strategy is to protect the population, finish the insurgents and bring back normalcy.

Although there has been a see saw, the militants have lost the military battle. They first lost it by 1995 and when the Pakistan terrorists came in, it picked up, it peaked in 2003 and thereafter there was a decline. The military battle has been won by the state and the military strategy has been eminently successful. Counter insurgency has been very effective, and can be even further improved with ease.

Where we have failed and where the terrorists have made significant reach is in the political battle, more so from 2010 after the Machil incident. 110 boys were killed in protests in that year, and the public discourse started moving towards the terrorists. Maybe it was that the public had invested in insurgency over the years and suffered, and suddenly realised nothing much has been achieved. And of course the controllers of the insurgency, be it the terrorist leaders or Pakistan that is a main player, changed tactics to mass agitations, intifada kind of tactics, action, reaction.

This happens when there is a political vacuum. And this has been filled by the terrorists, by the insurgents. They have taken the initiative. We only relied upon elections, and we felt that the regional political parties will manage. But such a corrupt state, the democratic governments of the state have not been able to deliver on stability or on good governance. So much money has been sent to Kashmir but the situation is worse than the so called bimaru states of India.

That is why we need a political initiative from the centre like that taken by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and later Dr Manmohan Singh. This led to ten years of peace, till 2013.

There is a requirement for the centre to step in. I still think all has not been lost. Although political statements have been made the government has not made a single statement that counters the existing policies that successive Indian governments have followed. The government has so far adhered to that.

A political initiative from the very top can check the situation. But the political vacuum must be filled and we have to hold talks with the stakeholders. I am a firm believer that Pakistan is not a stakeholder in Kashmir and talks with Pakistan must be stopped. Every time we say Pakistan is to blame means that Pakistan has greater control on Kashmir than we do, that we cannot control Jammu and Kashmir.

Stick to the rule that talks will be within the Constitution. Sky is the limit, please define your sky.

Jammu and Kashmir police is the best force in the state after the Army. Despite all the problems the police has remained steadfast, it has never rebelled, it has never done anything wrong. It is very efficient, it is the mainstay of the counter insurgency campaign.

I am of the view that when the situation is calmer— we could have done this in 2010, in 2013 also, but the situation is volatile so a little later, we must remove the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from parts, 10-15 km belt or even 20 km belt along the Line of Control is where AFSPA should apply., Thereafter as we progressively applied it, we must progressively lift it.

Army must focus on counter infiltration, 70 per cent of the force should be put in counter infiltration posture, and keep a reserve of 30 per cent. Counter insurgency in the Valley should be given to the Jammu and Kashmir police and the Central Reserve Police.We can easily raise additional battalions. This was done in Punjab, the police took charge, the rest is history.