Table of Contents
   Index
   About the Author
   Preface
   Islamabadisation
   The Abdullah Dynasty
   A Journey into History
   Kashmiri Pandits
   The Myth of Negligence
   Mullaism
   Mortgaged Media
   Siege by Scandal
   The 'Inhuman' Rights
   The Valley of Oddity
   This Happened to KPs
   Exaggerated Reporting
   Appendix

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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CHAPTER 9

The 'Inhuman' Rights

The recurring hallucinations often blurred by the tear-brimming eyes keep haunting Usha Bazaz - a woman in her early thirties - who was widowed on March 26 in 1990. Her husband Ashok Kumar Bazaz, fell prey to the bullets of terrorists at Chattabal - a locality in downtown Srinagar city. He is survived by his widow and seven daughters.

She now lives in Jammu with a relative. The dreams of the parents of Ashok Kumar Bazaz too lie shattered. The uncertainty coupled with the dark future is large over the faces of the young widow and her minor daughters. The youngest daughter of Bazaz - who saw her father off on the ill-fated day - still cherishes the fond hope that her Daddy would return home some day. She vividly recalls the last moments with her father and even identifies some people who had come to pick him up. The young widow recalls that none among her Muslim neighbours came even to console her. Next day her aged father-in-law air-dashed from Jammu to perform the cremation for which the police had made arrangements.

In another heart-rending case, the victim peeped through a second floor window of his house in the downtown's dense Chota Bazar locality to ascertain the mood of the day, when he spotted a gun-totting young man menacingly mocking at his naivety from the street below. The fateful date was March 19, 1990. The 36-year-old telecommunication engineer Bal Krishan Ganjoo immediately shut all the doors and windows of his house.

The entire family was panic-stricken. Finding the main wooden door too strong to break, the armed young man sneaked into the compound, after breaking in from a wooden boundary partition between the houses of the victim and his neighbours. The terrorist broke the ground-floor window and went inside the house to be confronted by Ganjoo's wife who by now had persuaded her husband to conceal himself in a drum, used for storing rice. The gun-wielding young man was not taken in by her assertion that Ganjoo had already left for his office. He looked into every nook and corner of the house before going to the third-floor attic, usually used for dumping stocks. He opened the lid of the drum and pumped all the bullets into Ganjoo's body.

The killer had still some bile left. The wailing widow of Ganjoo begged of him to kill the other family members as their lives had little meaning now for them. "Who will cry over his body, if I kill you?" said the terrorist triumphantly. He is survived by his widow and two daughters. He was married about three years ago. He had made attempts to flee from Kashmir Valley twice but was persuaded by the neighbours not to do so. However none of the 'benevolent' neighbours even came forward to console the family.

The same is the story of Ajay Kapoor, who was engaged in a wholesale business in the Maharajganj area of notorious downtown Srinagar till December 1, 1989. He was killed soon after he came out of his house at 10.30 a.m. There was so much scare that none could muster enough courage to lift the body: terrorists had declared that whosoever would remove the bodies of their prey, would do so at his own risk and peril responsibility. The body was removed two hours after the merciless killing. He is survived by his widow, two sons and a daughter who out of fear left the city and settled in Jammu.

Naveen Kumar Sapru, was killed on his way back from his official duty, in the same way on February 27, 1990. He was employed as a telecom inspector. Nobody - including the jawans of the Kashmir Armed Police standing nearby - came to his rescue. He is survived by his old mother, two sons and a widow.

Kamal Suri, owner of a provision store at Natipora, was gunned down on March 14, 1990. He had been kidnapped a day earlier by five terrorists who were seen talking to one Ghulam Mohamad Shah who lived close to the house of the victim. According to the members of the victim's family, lhe deceased was first taken by the kidnappers to a palatial house at Nowgam where the terrorists had built up a big control room complete with electronic gadgets. The victim was released in the morning and taken away again and this time to be killed in the evening during the curfew hours. He is survived by his two brothers, mother and two sisters.

Shabir Ahmed Khan, a young man was killed in an exchange of fire between terrorists and the security forces at Lal Chowk on the evening of February 7 of the same year. In a moving letter, next day, to Dr. Mohammed Yusuf Khan - father of the victim - Jagmohan, Governor, wrote: "I am deeply shocked to learn of the tragic death of your son in the last evening incident near Lal Chowk. Your loss as well as the loss of your family and friends is indeed immeasurable. But ours is no less. We all share your grief.

"Believe me, I could not sleep last night. Such was the imprint of tragedy on my mind. Human dimensions of the incident should haunt all sensitive souls. It is not the blood of the individual alone but all of it that flows in us - the blood of our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters. It is the blood that would stain the fair name of Kashmir. It would congeal and leave an ugly mark on the inner as well as outer landscape of the beautiful Valley.

"Let us pray to God Almighty to make us to see the path of peace and sanity. Let us create a situation in which no policeman is seen on the streets and they remain full of tourists and thrilling people. Let us impress once again on our young brothers to see the futility of the cult of the gun and understand the magnitude of all around misery that it has caused. Let us assure them that if they abandon the path of violence we would treat them with care and compassion. Let us remind them that our Constitution guarantees justice to all, and we would ensure that the same is given both in letter and in spirit.

"Let no more Shabirs die. Let no one feel the permanent loss of our near and dear one."

However, there is nobody to share these sentiments. There are only a few eyes who can see the tragedy striking the victims of terrorism. There are few ears to respond to the sobs of the survivors of the victims.

A few days after this incident Tej Krishan Razdan - a Central Government employee posted in Punjab province - visited Srinagar on leave to meet his family. An old Muslim colleague of Razdan, still posted in Kashmir, paid a visit to his residence on the fateful day. Both of them boarded a Lal Chowk-bound mini-bus. When the mini-bus halted at Gao Kadal, Razdan's companion suddenly took out a pistol and shot him point blank. Not contended with this dastardly action a still-breathing Razdan was dragged out of the vehicle and the co-passengers were asked to kick the dying man repeatedly. The body was dragged through the street. Taken to a nearest mosque, the body was put on display for hours before the police came to take it away.

In another incident, a group of three terrorists accosted Ashok Kumar Qazi - a State Gavernment employee - on Feb. 24, 1990 in Zaindar Mohalla when he was on his way to the market. He was shot at on the knuckles. He fell down and cried in agony for help. None among the passers-by or the shopkeepers responded. They just preferred to look the other way despite the fact that the victim - an energetic social worker of the area - was known to them. In their sadistic frenzy, the three murderers started dancing around the injured Qazi. His hair were pulled off. Terrorists slapped him continuously and spat on his face. One of them even unfastened his trousers and urinated on the face of Qazi. Terrorists enjoyed the writhing and twitching of the body of the dying victim. They wanted to kill him slowly. The siren of a distant police van, however, mercifully ended his agony as the panicky terrorists pumped bullets into his stomach and chest and left the body on the frozen road.

P.N. Kaul - a shopkeeper at Bijbihara in Anantanag district of the Valley - met a similar fate, but in a gorier manner. He was skinned off and left to die. His putrefied body was discovered three days later. The incident took place on March 22, 1990.

Terrorists did not spare even Sarwanand Kaul 'Premi', a noted Kashmiri poet and his 27-year-old son who were killed on April 30, 1990 at Soaf Shali in Anantnag district. Though his family urged him to leave the village in view of the mounting terrorist activities an unabetted killings of his community members, the poet refused, believing in the 'secular traditions' of his beloved Kashmir. He was deeply religious as well as liberal. He thought he was widely respected in the area predominated by Muslims. But his faith was ultimately shattered when on the evening of April 29, three terrorists entered his house and asked the inmates to put all the valuables in one room.

Packing them in an emptied suitcase, terrorists asked the frail and soft-spoken poet to carry the suitcase and follow them. "We mean no harm to him and he will return," the terrorists assured the wailing relatives.

In the meantime, Virendra Premi, 27-year-old son of the poet, volunteered to accompany his father so that he could lead the old man back during the dark night. "Come on you too, if you so desire," said the terrorists. Both the father and son were herded out of the house.

When their bodies were found two days later, the scene was appalling and nauseating. The place in-between the two eyebrows, where Premi used to apply the sandalwood mark commonly known as 'tilak' was found pierced by an iron rod and the skin peeled off. The entire body bore the marks of cigarette burns. The limbs were found broken and the eyes of both father and son gouged out. They had also been shot and hanged to a tree. This happened to a man who had kept a rare manuscript of the holy Quran with reverence in his prayer room.

In another gruesome case on May 7, 1990, K.L. Ganjoo - a lecturer at the Agricultural College at Wadora near Sopore, in Baramulla district - was returning home along with his wife from Nepal, where he had gone to attend a conference. Two officials of the college had been sent to receive him at the airport. They turned out to be murderers. They dragged Ganjoo and his wife out of the vehicle, right in the middle of the bridge at Sopore. Ganjoo was shot at and was thrown in the Jhelum to die. A young nephew of the couple, who was also with them, was given a choice - either to jump into the river or watch what they intended to do with his aunt. The boy jumped into the river. He survived and managed to escape. The bullet-ridden body of Ganjoo was found a few days later from the bank of the river. Mrs. Ganjoo - a school teacher by profession - was gang-raped by terrorists and then killed in a gruesome manner.

The treatment, meted out to Chunni Lal Shalla - a Police Inspector - is testimony to the barbarity which terrorists can resort to. He was posted at Langate near Kupwara. He was on his way to visit his family at Sopore after a lapse of six months. To avoid identification by the Jamaat-i-Islami terrorists, Shalla had sported a beard. A Muslim constable, working under him, also accompanied him in the same bus. On reaching Sopore, two terrorists came searching for Shalla but failed to recognise him. They had hardly left when the constable called them back and divulged the identity of the police inspector to them.

In the meantime, the constable himself took out a dagger and slashed off the entire right cheek along with the beard of Shalla. Blood gushed out and Shalla was in a state of shock. The constable jolted him by saying - "You pig. I will not allow you to sport Jamaat-i-Islami type beard on your other cheek also" - and slashed off his left cheek too. The two terrorists and the constable then battered the face of Shalla with hockey sticks shouting - "Bastard, we won't waste a bullet on you". Shalla was left to die.

The list is unending. It includes Professor Mushir-ul-Haq - the Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University - who was abducted during the pious month of Ramzan. By this time, barring a handful of Hindus, the minority community had left the Valley. But the naked dance of killling continued. On June 24, 1991, three probationary officers of the Life Insurance Carporation of India were abducted from a park. They were severely tortured and locked in a vacant house of a Hindu who had migrated from the Valley. The house was set on fire. Two of them died in the fire while the third one was rescued by the security forces and rushed to a hospital. On August 12 the same year, the body of Ram Moorli of Bangalore who was a clerk in the State Bank of India was found hanging in his hotel room.

Asha Khosa reporting for the Tribune (Chandigarh) in its issue of Feb 2, 1993 stated: "Crimes against women by militants are multiplying each day. Forcible marriages have been reported from a number of places while a large number of Muslim families with grown up girls have had to migrate in view of matrimonial demands for their daughters at gun point.

"Grown-up sons of a prominent business family of Kashmir were sent away to Bombay to evade possible kidnappings for ransom by militants.

"Rapes by militants are too common. The security forces have recovered a number of girls who were either being kidnapped by militants or were being kept in confinement and raped repeatedly. For obvious reasons, the identity of such girls is being kept secret.

"The woes of women at the hands of militants was boldly echoed by a lady doctor of Pulwama. Dr. Rishi, a gynaeocologist whose doctor husband had been slain by militants last year. In an interview to a foreign television network, Dr. Rishi said militants had been forcing her and her husband to perform abortions on the young Kashmiri girls, whom they had raped. 'While we did a few cases, our conscience did not allow us to carry out this illegal and un-Islamic practice. ' When the couple refused to carry out abortions, Dr. Rishi was shot dead.

"When the television crew asked Dr. Rishi whether she was not afraid of militants, she replied, ' What more I have to fear from them. They have everything to fear from me. I will expose them.'

"This reporter met a 13-year-old girl of Chanapora (Srinagar) who had become a mother after being sexually exploited by a local militant. When the shocked parents of the girl complained to a 'chief' of the outfit to which the said militant belonged, the mililtant was transferred to a remote Kupwara area as a punishment.

"Two months ago, residents of the plush Rajbagh locality were mute witness to a burqa clad girl being taken by a couple of gunmen to an abandoned house of a Kashmiri Pandit for 'interrogation'. The girl was 'interrogated' throughout the night while about twelve militants were with her. They were served food from a nearby house where a marriage party was on.

"Such 'interrogations' of 'mukhbirs' (informers) are too common. This reponer met three such women who had been saved from being killed by the timely intervention of some militant-related influential sections. All of them had been picked up from Srinagar's different areas and were related to each other. One of them had been made to drink a lot of water and then kicked in the stomach by her tormentors. The other one had burn marks all over her body inflicted with burning cigarette buts. The third one had cut marks on her breast. They were kept in a vacant migrant's house in Pulwama for three days.

"Recently at least five women were hanged to death in various parts of Kashmir as a pan of the militants' campaign to kill police 'informers'. In its issue of Feb. 4, 1993 in The Hindustan Times, A.R. Wig reported from Srinagar, "The Border Security Force (BSF) during the past few months have recovered a number of young girls who were kidnapped from the lawful custody of their parents, criminally assaulted and then sold for handsome money. In some cases, armed militants even forcibly whisked away young women on the false pretext that they acted as informers for the security forces and then tortured them. The dividing line between their ideological commitment albeit misguided and proneness to criminality is becoming increasingly indistinguishable.

"This is the shocking story of 19-year-old Shahina of Handwara, who was rescued by the BSF. Narrating her nightmare she had undergone, Shahina with tears welling up in her eyes said that she was kidnapped, criminally assaulted and tortured by members of various outfits as she was suspected to have passed on information about the presence of two kidnappers of her younger brother in a house. The suspects were later arrested from the Jama Masjid area in Handwara.

"She sought the BSF help after the family learnt that the kidnappers had threatened to kill her brother. As soon as she returned home after the rescue of her brother, she was immediately threatened by the militants that they would kidnap her. Since she wanted to lead a peaceful life, the BSF unit helped her in getting a job in Ratna Rani hospital in Srinagar. But the fear of militants continued to haunt her.

"Every time she noticed some unknown face in the hospital, she would get scared and thought she might again be kidnapped. As it happened while she was undergoing nursing training, one of the staff nurses identified her. Apprehending that this information might reach the militants, she left her job and went back to her house in Handwara.

"The next day, she was forcibly taken away by militant identified as Qayoom Beig, a member of the JKLF militant group as a punishment for informing the BSF and also securing a job in the nursing course. She was given a punishment of forty lashes.

"Feeling that the punishment was not enough, she was again kidnapped on the Id day in July 1992. This time the militants belonging to Ikhwan-ul-Musalmeen took her to a forest where she was kept for fourteen days. She was criminally assaulted by militant Nasir Ahmed Pir and later produced before Dr. Hyder, leader of the militant outfit where she complained to the leader about the rape. She was let off with the advice not to contact the security forces or she would be killed. Shahina told Dr. Hyder that she would prefer death rather than being raped by the militants.

"According to her statement, before the BSF rescued her, she became pregnant. First she concealed the pregnancy but subsequently told the truth to her sister. With the help of her elder sister, Hamida, who was living in Sopore, she was taken for abortion by Dr. Ameena Matto of Sopore. She again returned to her sister's house in Handwara.

"In the following November Rashid Khan a known militant was killed by the security forces and she thought that again she was being suspected of passing on the information to the security forces about the presence of Rashid Khan, in the town. She was again forcibly taken by militants and kept in an abandoned house in Buttpora near Sapore. She was totally shocked when she saw a man identified as Altaf Hussain Nazar who had kidnapped her. She pleaded not to touch her but her pleadings failed to move him. She was again criminally assaulted for several days.

"While in the captivity of the militants, she was introduced to one Akil Ahmed and her captors wanted to sell her to him for Rs 40,000 for prostitution in Delhi. She said all through her detention she was pleading for her release but the kidnappers were unmoved. But one day while she was alone in the house, she managed to escape and rushed to the BSF unit. Since the BSF were not there in the camp, she was sent to a family of CRPF jawans.

"The BSF officers treated her as their own daughter and promised to get her a job. Shahina said that she would like to join the security forces so that she could get training and avenge the inhuman treatment meted out to her by the militants. She said that the so-called militants in fact were criminals outraging the modesty of young girls and killing innocent people.

"Sahina is not the only girl who went through this nightmare. A 12-year-old girl was kidnapped from Batala in Punjab by one Abdul Hamid who had links with militant groups in Kashmir and sold to a 60-year-old man of village Khor and subjected to criminal assault."

By mid-1991, the security forces launched a concerted operation to flush out terrorists who had got themselves entrenched in the vacant houses of the migrants in Rainawari locality in downtown Srinagar. The locality had been transformed into a sort of fortress of various terrorist outfits. Some houses were used as watch-towers, some to store arms, some as residential quarters and some as field hostels to accommodate the visiting accomplices.

Following the recapture of this locality by the Army, it was handed over to the paramilitary forces for use as watch-towers and vigilance posts. The same exercise was also repeated in other localities by the security forces. Even camps were pitched in the compound of some of the vacant houses.

Meanwhile, sustained efforts of the security forces in containing the menace of terrorism and secessionism in the Valley yielded some positive results. This development restored the confidence of the migrants to some extent at Jammu and elsewhere in India to return to their homes, a number of whom had already been reduced to ashes by terrorists.

According to D. S. R. Sahni - General officer Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army - about three to four houses of migrants were being burnt everyday since the last quarter of 1991. He described such attempts as desperate ones at the hands of terrorists who were under the pressure of the security forces. However, a leader of the migrants claimed that the number of such incidents was certainly more than 5,000. Shyam Kaul - a veteran journalist from the region - said that more than 3,000 first information reports (FIRs) had already been lodged with the police in Jammu alone by the migrant victims in this regard.

Such incidents are not restricted to various localities in Srinagar city alone: houses and properties of the migrants in other towns and the countryside in particular have also not been spared by terrorists. According to Kaul, some persons have been explaining away this phenomenon by saying that terrorists feared that the security forces might occupy the vacant houses of Hindus for their anti-terrorist operations and, therefore, they would destroy them. But there are a large number of houses in remote villages that were also set ablaze, apparently for no reason except perhaps to deter the owners from returning to their homes.

Even then, terrorists in Kashmir, enjoying patronage from Pakistan and unleashing a reign of terror on the innocent population in every possible manner, are being called as 'armed separatists' by the human rights organisations.

As for the functioning of the paramilitary forces, one must bear in mind that they are discharging their duties in absolutely hostile conditions, where they are not sure about their life even for the next moment. The local administration is against them. The instances of the involvement of the local police and Intelligence with terrorists are not rare. Local politicians are out and out to denigrate and demoralize them. And the ISI is meticulously conducting the whole campaign against India, both from inside and outside the State, from the Pakistani soil and from the Capital of India where voices of dissent are not curbed on account of democratic traditions.

The method employed by the various terrorist outfits to hound out the minority community (Kashmiri Hindu Pandits) from the Valley did not follow a homogenous path. The heterogeneity of the devices used for driving out the aborigines from their native land bears the ISI stamp. It was so ingenious that one could not locate a systematic design behind it as that could bring discredit to 'Jehad' at the outset and its overtures would appear communal which was likely to invoke international condemnation, besides inviting an organised crackdown at the very inception of the movement for 'azadi'.

The fundamentalist forces had started raising their ugly faces long before January 1990 when Dr. Farooq resigned as the Chief Minister. Keshav Nath - a priest of the Vicharnag temple - was beaten to death by a police constable on December 9, 1988. Responding to a call-attention notice in the Assembly on this incident, the Chief Minister had stated: "The facts of the case are that on December 9 at 3.45 a.m. some residents of Vicharnag verbally reported at police station Soura that the body of one Keshav Nath, priest of the Vicharnag temple, is lying in the compound of the said temple under suspicious circumstances and they apprehended some foul play in that. On receipt of the information, the Station House Officer of police station Soura reached the spot and started proceedings under Section 174 Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. P. C.). He found the body of the priest lying in the compound of the temple with some bruises. During the course of further proceedings it was learnt through the watchman of the temple, Beant Ram, that Constable Mohammad Yusuf No. 616/S, who was on guard duty at the temple, had pressed the priest to recite the Quran and when the latter refused to do so constable Mohammad Yusuf assaulted him with the rifle in his possession and beat him to death."

A number of reports of the Amnesty International and the Asia Watch besides some Indian organisations have 'documented the excesses of the Indian security forces' in tackling the situation in Kashmir. What they are trying to do is to focus exclusively on the State action against terrorism, masking the fact that State action cannot be treated as an isolated phenomenon of human rights violations in an atmosphere of continued terrorist violence. In fact, it is terrorist violence that ultimately determines the limits and extent of State action to contain it.

Terrorist violence per se is a violation of human rights. The resolution of the UN General Assembly on measures to prevent international terrorism, passed on December, 1985 followed by the Security Council resolution after nine days, inter alia stated:

"Unequivocally condemned as criminal, all acts, methods and practices of terrorism wherever and by whomever committed, including those who jeopardised the friendly relations between states."

The UN Declaration of Human Rights, too, does not involve only guarantee against the actions of the State. Its scope is universal and the obligation of their protection is not limited to the authority of the State. Don't terrorists have any responsibility? Moreover, are human rights meant only to protect a few fundamentalists in Kashmir against the authority of the State? Don't they equally involve protection of other minorities against the extermination, persecution and threat? Are they not to be allowed their traditional way of life or are they to be swept asunder by a religious crusade aiming for Islamisation?

Describing the inaudibility syndrome of human rights activists, in a detailed and in-depth analysis Harsh Sethi - a prominent human rights activist, wrote in the Patriot, an English daily, published from New Delhi: "The human rights groups 'bend over backwards' to prove their radicalism. And this radicalism seems to consist of a 'gleeful and malicious' State-bashing, of 'proving' that the law and order machinery is not only excessively violent but is invariably biased against the minorities and the weak; that the social based of Hindu communalism has grown to alarming proportions; that terrorist violence is almost excusable in the face of 'State terrorism', and so on . . .

"That the dominant sections of the guardians of public discourse - the intelligentsia and the media - too fall easy prey to these sentiments is predictable. Their willing complicity in a self-imposed censorship or a deliberate distortion (or worse, fabrication) of news only further strengthens the votaries of an authoritarian state . . .

"Few discerning observers of the Kashmir scene would contest that the handling of the Valley has been less than adroit, or that the perception of discrimination has led to a near complete 'alienation from India in the Valley'. But to be served with an analysis that minimises, if not ignores, the reality of Pakistan's involvement in the Valley, shows poor understanding of the implications of the global resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism, that views terrorism only as a social response to State terrorism and is insensitive to its simultaneous autonomous roots, is to ask us to live in a world of make-believe. Any commentary that cannot squarely face up to the inability of the organised groups of terrorists in the Valley, be they the JKLF or the Allah Tigers, to retain the minuscule non-Muslims or nationalist minority in their ranks stands on shifty moral ground when accusing the State and society of being Hindu communal.

"It is somewhat difficult to sustain a hypothesis that the small minority of Kashmiri Pandits are a threat to the majority Muslim population in the Valley. If Kashmiriyat is what is finding expression, then why do we not have non-Muslims joining the struggle for independence?

". . . To take a parallel example, if groups are not seen as protesting equally vociferously against the brutal gunning down of innocent participants in the Ramnavmi procession in Batala in Punjab, then their concern for their favoured 'victims' appears fake. They cannot get away with responses such as, 'The newspapers did not print our statements' or that 'There are enough people doing that in any case. We have to speak on behalf of the others'.

"Rarely do the human rights groups realise the faith that this society had reposed in them. Unlike the official media, the politicians and the administration, the human rights groups were seen as courageous guardians of public morality. It is this faith that had given them their power, quite out of proportion to their numbers. But if they too are to be seen as 'no different from the rest', then we are are indeed in for difficult times. Their pride in a belief that such reports create confidence in the victim groups and communities that at least someone cares, remains at best a partial argument.

"The purpose of a human rights report cannot be to merely contribute footnotes to history. It must, to be efficacious, communicate with wider sections in society so as to facilitate the emergence of a genuine public discourse on the issues that it contends with . . .

"If only the human rights groups could remember that before them Jayaprakash Narayan could set up a commission on Jammu & Kashmir and Nagaland, and never was he then accused of being anti-national, or that Mahatma Gandhi could find enough support for his insistence that money owed to Pakistan be repatriated, notwithstanding partition and the ensuing war, can they begin to define the terms under which a human rights discourse can be sustained in this society. Otherwise they must be resigned to a fate of inaudibility."

The human rights groups conveniently forget to recall information, furnished to the inquiry team of the Press Council of India by the Army authorities regarding action taken against the errant jawans in Kashmir. According to the Army authorities, as many as eleven Armymen, including a commanding officer of an unit, were awarded punishment in six court martials concerning the incidents in Kashmir Valley during 1990. Besides them, one officer and one junior commissioned officer (JCO) were awarded severe reprimand, affecting their promotion adversely on account of an incident in Petta Dialgam in Anantnag district on January 29, 1991.

In the incident, one Army column while moving was ambushed by the anti-national elements. During the ambush, the personnel of the J&K Armed Police (JKAP) travelling in the vehicle got involved in an exchange of fire with the anti-national elements, resulting in injury to two JKAP personnel one of whom later succumbed to injuries. The Army column is alleged to have subsequently carried out excesses against civilians during the search operations. A case was established against an officer and a summary court martial was ordered in the incident which took place on April 11, 1990 at Srinagar in which Rs 5,100 was allegedly removed by one officer during the cordon and search operations. In this case, convening of the court martial was delayed due to the hospitalisation of the concerned officers.

In another incident at Srinagar, on June 2, the same year, Yusuf Jameel, the stringer for the BBC and several other foreign newspapers and news agencies and Haji Ghulam Mohammad Goru were apprehended, a severe structure was awarded to the three officers, including the commanding officer of the concerned unit. The implication of the punishment are 'entry made in the officer's dossier, officer not considered for promotion for three years and the career of the officer adversely affected.' (An intruder had disclosed to the Army team that following his return from across the border after training, he had been instructed to contact Yusuf Jameel and Zafar Meraj at Srinagar for further instructions. He had added that he had been told to meet a particular hawker on the Residency Road who in turn would direct him to the house of Yusuf Jameel and in case Jameel was not there, he would be sent to the house of Zafar Meraj . When the intruder approached Yusuf Jameel, he was being followed by the Army team. Initially Jameel refused to meet the visitor but when the intruder passed the code word, Jammel came out to receive him. The Army team in waiting, pounced on Jameel and whisked him away without taking the local police into confidence. Incidentally Zafar Meraj was away in Delhi on that day.)

In an incident in which the modesty of a woman had been outraged, at Panjgam in Srinagar district on June 9, the same year, a non-commissioned officer (NCO), one JCO and one jawan were found guilty in the court martial. The jawan was dismissed from service, the NCO was not only dismissed from service but was also awarded six months' rigorous imprisonment while severe reprimand was awarded to the JCO. The severe reprimand implied that the promotion of the JCO was adversely affected.

A Territorial Army officer was tried summarily and awarded severe reprimand, besides a year loss of seniority for promotion, in regard to an incident on May 16, 1990 at Srinagar in which a gold ring was removed from a jewellery box but was later returned during the cordon and search operations. The implication of the punishment included an entry made in the officer's dossier and promotion adversely affected.

In yet another incident, Shameem Ahmed and Mohammad Ameen Kathwari - two anti-national elements - died in the Army detention cell. They had been apprehended during cordon and search operations on December 17 and 18, 1990 in Rainawari locality of Srinagar city but died in detention due to cumulative effects of extreme cold, inadequate administration and lack of medical attention during detention and use of excessive force during the interrogation. In this case an officer was served with a show-cause notice for administrative action. The severity of the administrative action can be as much as termination from service. A JCO was awarded displeasure.

An officer was awarded severe displeasure over an incident in which a convoy under an officer had been ambushed by the anti-national elements on December 23, 1990 at Tsaripur in Pulwama district and in the following exchange of fire six civilians had been killed.

Similarly, the Border Security Force (BSF), a paramilitary force, which is helping the local police in internal security punished, as many as thirty-four officials of different ranks on duty in J&K on account of over-reaction or indiscipline during the last three years (1990 to 92). Among them are twenty-seven personnel including twenty constables, three head constables, two naiks and three lance-naiks. Two constables were tried by the Security Forces courts (court martial) and dismissed from service. Three personnel including one constable, one lance-naik and a cook, were also tried by the General Security Force courts (court martial) for the offences such as rape.

Reacting to a report of the Asia Watch in May 1993, the spokesman of Government of India said, "Action was taken against 97 Army and para-military personnel, with 38 sentenced to imprisonment and ten dismissed from services since the outbreak of terrorism in the Valley."

The officers have already been given by the Army authorities a list of dos and donts while acting under the Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 - in force in the disturbed Kashmir Valley these days.

Dealing with the subject of the alleged excesses by the Army and the security forces in Kashmir, the Verghese Committee of the Press Council of India in its lengthy report 'Crisis and Credibility' noted: "India is signatory to the Human Rights Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other Instruments which reinforce the Constitutional Bill of Rights and requirements of due process which the courts are there to uphold."

It also said that the country can boast of a large number of human rights organisations and activists who have been quick to bring any reported infringement of civil liberties to public notice. These bodies have been vigilant in monitoring emergency situations where distrubed conditions invoke the application of special laws. The media have given wide coverage to their observations while pursuing their own independent investigations as well.

Various phrases have been used in reporting some of these events, and it is important to be clear about their meaning. An 'excess' is something beyond permissible limits. It may be legal but not defensible, the excess being the result of a panic reaction or an error of judgment. An 'atrocity ', on the other hand, suggests an act of extreme brutality with deliberate intent, thus rendering it illegal and beyond the pale of law.

'Genocide' and 'massacre' have been used interchangeably, among others, by militant groups and by Pakistan, though they have different meanings. Genocide implies the deliberate elimination of nationality or ethnic group whereas massacre entails the extermination of any large number of people. Again, molestation (of a woman) connotes forceful sexual liberties short of intercourse, whereas rape specifically entails sexual intercourse with a woman against her will by threat or use of force.

Words are sometimes loosely and carelessly used. Strong disapproval, high emotion or political bias can result in the deliberate or sub-conscious choice of the harsher or more dramatic expression among related pairs of words. With usage, such expressions gain currency as generic terms. Terminological inexactitude may also be a product of translation, a common enough pitfall. A J&K policeman told the committee that the Urdu phrase 'tang karna' with reference to a woman could mean beating her, tearing or tugging at her clothes, nestling beside her, or even rape. That is indeed a wide spectrum of meanings. The word 'fauj' is commonly used for any uniformed personnel other than the police. Likewise 'jawan' or 'soldiers' and, sometimes 'Army' (i.e., 'fauj''). Simple villagers are unable to distinguish between uniforms, ranks and nomenclatures . . .

The prolonged round-the-clock curfew imposed on Srinagar in the early part of 1990 did cause considerable hardship. Para-military forces, hurriedly inducted into Kashmir from wherever they happened to be, were deployed with inadequate briefing. Lacking in local knowledge or police Intelligence, unfamiliar with the language and confronted with well armed but faceless militants able to strike and melt into an alienated population - many security personnel were prone to regard themselves as part of an occupation force under seige and the entire population as 'enemies'. The inability to distinguish friend form foe in situations of high tension led to some unfortunate incidents during the early days. Overreaction on occasions resulted in excesses as the para-military forces were pitch forked into a role far beyond their charter. Intelligence gathering became a particularly vital and onerous task.

Many of the incidents involving the paramilitary forces were inquired into and action was taken as in the Anantnag bridal rape case (May 1990) and the burning down of a number of shops and houses in Handwara (October 1990). The case pertaining to the Mashali Mohalla incident in Srinagar (August 6,1990) in which nine persons were killed, had almost concluded in June 1991.

An incident of firing took place at Khanyar in Srinagar on May 8, 1991 when a paramilitary patrol party was allegedly fired upon, around 6.15 p.m., near Pir Dastgir Sahib, where people had gathered for the burial of three persons killed in an exchange of fire with militants sometime earlier. According to the police report issued the next day: "the security forces returned the fire coming from various directions, resulting in eleven fatal casualties and injuries to forty-three others. A criminal case has been registered in connection with the firing incident and a high-level inquiry by an Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of J&K has been ordered and further follow-up action will be taken on receipt of the report of the high-level inquiry. In the meantime, three security personnel have been placed under suspension pending inquiry into their conduct." The official release was reasonably prompt and 'excess' was straightaway admitted. Although there was alleged provocation of militant firing, the return fire was considered excessive as one SF personnel fired sixteen rounds and the other thirteen. Some papers reported fifty killed in the firing with many more injured. Admittedly nine died immediately and two or three of the injured succumbed to injuries later.

The police cite this as an example of unverified reports of the numbers killed, serving the militant propaganda. In early 1990 when a certain incident that stirred great excitement was alleged in Srinagar, the Governor, Jagmohan, issued a public notice asking for the names of those killed so that compensation might be paid to the bereaved families. There was no response. The alleged deaths were concoctions.

The terms of reference of the Khanyar inquiry include 'determination of the sequence of events that led to the use of force, identification of any act of omission or commission that may have contributed towards escalation of the situation, determination of whether the firing undertaken in the situation was justified or necessary. If not, recommendation for action against the persons who may be at fault.' The inquiry was to be completed within a month.

There has been some criticism that the credibility of the inquiry might be undermined because of the choice of the conducting officer. Be this as it may, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen called for a boycott of the official inquiry which amounted to a threat that will surely impede independent witnesses coming forward and has in fact delayed its completion. Meanwhile, a parallel inquiry was announced by Mufti Bahauddin Farooqi - former Chief Justice of the J&K High Court - which, he says, was demanded by independent citizens, as the notification issued by the official inquiry officer inviting witnesses to file statements 'showed bias'. The parallel one-man inquiry was conducted by Mufti Bahauddin Farooqi himself under the auspices of the J&K People 's Basic Rights Protection Committee, which he heads. It was released on June 25,1990. It indicts the security forces for indiscriminate and unprovoked firing resulting in sixteen deaths and fifty-nine injuries.

Another incident, which aroused a great deal of indignation, took place on June 11, 1991. Twenty-two persons were killed and fifteen injured when, according to police reports, militants fired on the security personnel, changing guard at Chota Bazar, in downtown Srinagar. Earlier, a group of militants had fired on a security patrol killing one jawan and injuring three others. Two persons were killed when the security forces returned fire. Militants, however, allege that the Chota Bazar firing was a revenge killing by security forces personnel in retaliation for the ambush of their comrades at Zaina Kadal. An official inquiry is under way. Mufti Bahauddin Farooqi, too, proposes another citizen's inquiry . . .

In case of excesses in the course of duty, the CRPF and BSF hold departmental inquiries and take action on the findings. But where the action of any member of the security forces is indefensible in terms of going beyond the law, the case is handed over to the police and magistracy for prosecution. Rape and molestation cases are also put in court.

Official sources have little doubt that it is part of the militants' strategy to trap the security forces in difficult situations, such as in congested localities, and attempt to provoke extreme reactions. It helps the militant cause if innocent persons, especially women, children, the sick and aged, are caught in the crossfire. This fans anger and alienation. Official sources allege that militants do commit arson when cornered and blame the resultant loss of homes, commercial establishments and other property on the ruthlessness of the security forces. On the other hand, the security forces have been charged with deliberate incendiarism to overawe the people. It has been alleged that jawans have been seen to spread inflammable powder on houses and shops or sprinkle petrol (carried in their helmets), set the premises afire and then prevent fire tenders form putting out the conflagration. The security forces vehemently deny this. They say that everybody stacks hay in their lofts and wooden structures that easily catch fire, sometimes as a result of the use of grenades, crude bombs and other explosive material in the course of encounters. It is claimed that some militants apprehended in Anantnag in November 1990, after an armed encounter actually confessed to committing arson. However, cases of arson have been registered by the police against the security forces.

It is widely believed that the phrase 'killed in cross-firing' is used as a cover for panic reactions, blind firing (especially when militant attackers disappear into narrow alleys where pursuit is extremely difficult and dangerous), and for deliberate revenge killings.

Some Cautionary Tales

The militants' version of righteous innocence is open to suspicion. This is evident frorn their own statements as reported by the Srinagar Press which is under severe pressure from them.

Aftab, a local Urdu daily, reported on March 10 that a youth hurled a grenade on a para-military truck near Budshah Chowk (Srinagar) the previous afternoon. Several paramilitary personnel were reported injured and one possibly killed. Four women were injured in the grenade explosion. Earlier, there was an exchange of fire between militant youth and the security forces at Narwara and Safa Kadal. Several persons were injured in the cross-firing.

Later, on March 13, 1991, the Aftab quoted a Press statement issued by a militant organisation, the AI-Inqilab. This said that a meeting held under the chairmanship of its chief commander had decided that 'armed militant actions will now take place in such a way as to cause more damage to the security forces than to the common people.' That certainly is a frank admission of militant attacks causing innocent civilian casualties.

The Zamindar on March 12, 1991 reported a meeting presided over by the commander-in-chief of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen: "The meeting expressed concern over the matter that several paper organisations and so-called organisations which do not exist in reality, at the behest of Central Intelligence agencies, harass gentle, respected and innocent people of the State."

Perhaps even more revealing is a report carried by the Aftab on March 10, 1991 on an 'important meeting' of comnmanders of the J&K Al-Umar Mujahideen. A statement of the chief commander was read out. It called on the mujahideen to fight valiantly against the security forces 'as their cruelty has reached its climax and they are daily killing people and describing them as terrorists and these incidents as cross-firing'. The report continued: "To avoid civilian loss, care should be taken of the surroundings. Khalid Shamaz later thanked the people of Batmaloo because the action undertaken on March I was not a planned one. The mujahids of the Al-Umar and other organisations were forced to undertake this action when the chief commander and some active workers of an organisation were encircled by the security forces. Mujahids fired on the security forces from all sides and forced them to run away. The encircled mujahideen succeeded in coming out of the cordon. Two civilians were martyred by the security forces". The phrase 'planned action' is interesting. It clearly shows that large numbers of sympathisers are to be found among the 'civilian' population who are either required to carry out certain supportive functions or get out of the line of fire on receipt of prior warning. Cordon and search operations by the security orces are therefore not all that mindless.

Perhaps the provocation or opportunity for such sneak, hit-and-run tactics in bazaars, crowded mohallas and busy thoroughfares could be minimised, though not eliminated, through a careful thinning down of possible redeployment of static security posts and bunkers which offer inviting targets. The committee was told by citizens that a picket formerly posted in the heart of Srinagar - Lal Chowk - was recently withdrawn to everybody's relief and that nothing terribly untoward has happened since, though there was an incident in the area subsequently. The alternative might be to post mobile patrols. In any event, the matter would seem worthy of periodic review, though there may be two views on anything approaching total withdrawal from certain areas.

Efforts are being made continuously to brief all personnel and impress upon them the need to keep their cool and act with restraint whatever be the provocation. Even critics admit that things have by and large improved. Organised raids and crackdowns entailing cordon and search operations are led by officers but difficult situations can arise sometimes when the security forces personnel give chase after an ambush. The CRPF has inducted a Mahila Police battalion to deal with women, especially when houses are to be searched for militants or weapons, and protesting women have to be prevented from obstructing these procedures. In their absence, charges of molestation and rape were frequently made; possibly less so now. Some cases of rape have been registered and action has been taken against those found guilty.

Compensation is given to victims of excesses. In case of death the family of a crossfire victim may get a compensation of Rs.1 lakh, while those whose houses or shops have been burnt are entitled to relief in the form of Gl sheets and timber as well as cash compensation.

Militants have alleged attacks on or harassment of hospitals and medical personnel, and the Asia Watch, has cited such violations brought to its notice as a breach of 'medical neutrality' by the security forces. The Srinagar Times of July 31, l990, reported the large-scale killing of so-called informers by various militant groups 'because they were receiving huge sums while providing information about militant activity.' Some months later, on Decernber 12, 1990 Aftab a local Urdu daily, reported an incident at the Soura Medical Institute, Srinagar: "According to reports, some unidentified militants entered the emergency ward and tried to kill an alleged informer, Bashir Ahmed, who was admitted in the hospital a day earlier after being shot by militants at Bemina. He was immediately rushed to Soura Hospital where he was fired upon. this was followed by firing by the police personnel on duty. According to the report, these excesses by the security forces prompted the doctors and other para-medical staff to go on strike, resulting in disruption of the normal functioning of the institute." Apparently two doctors and a nurse were injured when the security personnel opened fire to prevent Bashir Ahmed from being murdered. This is certainly an outrageous violation of 'medical neutrality'. But by whom?

The Asia Watch itself cites the case of Sarla Bhatt - a staff nurse (Kashmiri Pandit) as the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science in Soura, Srinagar - who was shot dead on April 18, 1990. Her body was found in Lal Bazaar with a note in which the JKLF claimed responsibility. She was accused of informing the police that a number of militants were hiding in the institute. Four days prior to the killings, Sarla Bhatt had been kidnapped from the nurses' hostel by unidentified men and the post mortem report concluded that she had been raped before she was killed.

Other allegations refer to harassment and beating up of children by security personnel. The daily report issued on May 17, 1991 by the J&K Police headquarters, Srinagar, refers to a patrol party stopping a passenger bus near Chowgam in Anantnag district on May 16. Armed militants in the bus opened fire. In the ensuing encounter two militants were killed, one was injured and two apprehended. All belonged to the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. On a search of the passengers, a small boy was found concealing some grenades and ammunition kept by the militants with him. Altogether five AK-47s with six magazines and two hand grenades were recovered. Not an innocent catch, although an innocent face was used . . .

Psychological War

The situation in the State today is a blend of low-level proxy war - insurgency and terrorism conducted against a background of alienation, political propaganda - and Pakistan is trying to restore the long simmering Kashmir question. It has been unable to do so by reiterating its claims for self-determination and bygone UN resolutions - long overtaken by events, primarily stemming from its own repeated default. For the third time it has trained and sent in armed infiltrators and provided them support and sanctuary in desperate bid to stir the pot and either bring about a collapse in Kashmir or compel international intervention.

Psychological war is a vital instrument in such a campaign and is aimed to confuse, demoralise and divide the opponent and consolidate and extend one's own support among a alienated population, which in turn is likely to be further embittered by tales of excesses and atrocities. The power of proxy in Kashmir is manifested in the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and other Jamaat or fundamentalist-oriented militant organisations. They want accession to Pakistan and are wary of and even antagonistic towards the JKLF. Gun battles have broken out among JKLF and Hizb-ul- Mujahideen groups from time to time. In one such demonstration in Srinagar on May 8, 199l, a JKLF procession chanted anti-Pakistan slogans and burnt an effigy of the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Earlier on April 5, the JKLF had banned the use of the Pakistani flag and Pakistan PM's photograph and described 'Azad Kashmir' as Occupied Kashmir . . .

In all this, the human rights aspect has received considerable attention. The Kashmiri-American Council in Washington and the International Institute of Kashmir Studies, London, have been active lobbyists and bring out a monthly Kashmir Report, which reproduces material about a or emanating from Kashmir. Ghulam Nabi Fai - Executive Director of the Kashmiri-American Council - has been communicating with members of the US Congress, the Asia Watch and United Nations officials with his 'hot line from Pak-occupied Kashmir'. There has also been an effort to publicise the alleged movement of l5,000 and more Kashmiri refugees into PoK and to link this with the UN resolution on the Kurdish refugees. Ahmed Rashid reported from Atmuquam in PoK in The Independent of June 6,1991: "Refugees from Indian Kashmir said they fled because Indian troops raped their women, arrested and tortured their male children and desecrated mosques." Indian sources have no information of any Kashmiri exodus to PoK. Such reports in all probability are aimed as a cover for exfiltrators and seem nothing more than propaganda ploy.

Human Rights Caution

The Verghese Committee said: "Human rights organisations in India and abroad have reported on Kashmir from time to time in addition to the international Press. Human rights groups have a constituency and in the usual manner of adversarial reporting exhibit a perfectly understandable bias against the establishment and in favour of the alleged victims who are seen as the underdog. Human Rights groups, however, need to be more investigative and check all sides more carefully before they come to firm conclusions which they then proceed to publicise. . ."

The Asia Watch in its May 1991 report, Kashmir Under Siege, makes the cardinal error of equating a legitimate, sovereign Government with faceless terrorists and armed infiltrators guided by their mentors across the border. Insurgency or civil disorder confers no right on any Government to kill indiscriminately. But the Indian armed forces and paramilitary formations are bound by the laws under which they operate - the Constitution, and the jurisdiction of courts. There have admittedly been errors and excesses which cannot be condoned. Action has been taken and the guilty punished in a number of cases and so there is no justification for the belief that the Government of India or Army/security forces commanders have turned a blind eye towards gross misconduct or excesses by persons under their charge. There certainly is no absolute warrant for the US Congress to advise the US Administration that the training America provides to Indian's armed forces must stress adherence to internationally recognised standards of human rights. One fails to understand that which training is being referred to. This is a gratuitous insult by a Congress that irresponsibly supplied the arms that were diverted by Pakistan from Afghanistan to terrorists in Punjab and Kashmir who in turn have been responsible for brutal killings on an unprecedented scale.

Human rights violations are bad. Even one extra Judicial killings or a single rape is one too many. Yet any judgment on these matters, which are more a product of human failure or frailty and emotional stress rather than of deliberate State policy or connivance, should be seen in the context of the scale, spread and intensity of terrorist/insurgency operations and official responses, the number of the security forces deployed and the number of incidents that might on investigation be reasonably listed as human rights violations. This is not to extenuate abuses, but to ensure a sense of proportion . . .

Indian human rights activists and organisations must continue their watchdog role in Kashmir and elsewhere. But they need to be more cautious about publicising their findings until they have given a reasonable opportunity to the other side to state or explain its case. It is not axiomatic that the Government or its agencies are necessarily wrong or prevaricate and that 'the others' say-so' represents the actual or the only truth. The militant groups in Kashmir are fighting for a 'cause'. For some it is a ' jehad' with martyrdom awaiting those who lose their lives. Some of them are highly motivated. And they have two weapons - guns and propaganda. With the gun they threaten the physical existence of their opponents, while with the latter they aim at the minds of men, locally, nationally and internationally. Human rights groups, well intentioned though they are, must be allive to the fact that they too can work with a little caution. And none should fear to loose a constituency if that is implied in balanced reporting.

Violations By Militants

The kidnapping of some Israeli tourists and the slaying of one of them in Srinagar towards the end of June 1991 and the earlier kidnapping of two Swedish engineers working on a hydel project in Kashmir, both with the object of forcing international political and human rights intervention on their behalf is, like hijacking, utterly wrong. For militant groups to indulge in major human rights violations against third parties in the name of focussing attention on human rights is grotesque. Innocent people like Maulana Masoodi, the 87 year old veteran freedom fighter; Maulvi Farooq, the Mirwaiz; Mushir-ul-Haq, Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University; H. L. Khera, General Manager, HMT; Mohd Shaban, Editor of Al Safa; Lassa Kaul; Mir Mustafa; P. N. Handoo and Syed Ghulam Nabi, two senior officers of the State Information Department; and many other distinguished citizens have been brutally murdered. In June 1991, two LIC probationary officers were burnt alive in a deserted Kashmiri Pandit's house in Srinagar. Rubayya Sayeed and Nahida Imtiaz Soz were two young women among the many innocent persons kidnapped.

These are (also) grave human rights violations. Over one lakh persons have had to migrate from Kashmir - first Pandits, then other Hindus, then other non-Muslims. They have taken refuge in Jammu, Delhi and elsewhere in northern India. Whatever may be said about the causes of the early exodus, many have obviously left in genuine fear or in the face of economic ruin. This is another human tragedy brought on the State by the militants . . .

Reporting Human Rights

The Press provides much of the raw material for human rights organisations both within the country and abroad, both directly through its own reports and comments and indirectly by feeding the international media. Newpersons, therefore, have a double responsibility to ensure that they verify their facts as carefully as possible, present both sides, and avoid sensationalising events, especially when describing grey areas. Headlining and display, too, should be restrained in all such situations as emotion often feeds on itself. The Press in Kashmir as is their wont, give large, bold headlines to all stories in the style of a tabloid. It needs to review its own norms and style, including display . . .

Newspapers can go wrong in the best of circumstances. But credibility and true Press freedom in terms of the people's right to know is only upheld if corrections are carried out or the right of reply is conceded within legitimate bounds. It is the lament of the Army PRO at Srinagar that a number of rejoinders issued by him, whether directly to newspapers and news agencies or through the State Information Department have not been used.

However, the severe indictment of the human right groups under various covers by the Verghese Committee has failed to dampen the 'spirit' of such activists. They continue in their biased tirade against the security forces. Army and the Government of India. One such group - the Co-ordination Committee, constituted in September '90 - in its sixth report, which was released to the Press in November 1992,1isted a number of unsubstantiated or scantily substantiated excesses or atrocities at the hands of the security forces. The team, sent by the committee relied solely on the alleged victims and subverters. It once again preferred to condone the reign of terror, unleashed by terrorists.

In its unabashed remark, it even went to state: "We learnt that Syed Ghulam Nabi (Joint Director of the Information Department of the State, who was brutally killed by terrorists in September 1992) was held responsible for causing canard on militant leaders, publicised through his department and that his daughter was admitted to the MBBS medical course out of turn in the category of 'efficient combators of terrorism'. This was reason enough for his beheading . . ." The team of the committee seemed to be unaware of the fact that it is the discretionary quota of the head of the Government (Governor since the imposition of the President's Rule over the State). The well-wishers of the team perhaps did not tell the team members that a few years ago, Syed Ali Shah Geelani - a prominent fundamentalist leader - had succeeded in securing the favours from the then Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah, in getting admission for his son under the same quota. Would the Co-ordination Committee or other human rights groups or terrorists recommend the same 'punishment' for Gilani? Moreover, Nabi was shot dead, not beheaded.

Crescent over Kashmir

 

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