Srinagar: The government has so far ordered no probe into the killings of more than 85 civilians during the five-month-long uprising in Kashmir this year.
Officials remain either tightlipped or shift the question onto the Mehbooba Mufti government, saying it is a policy decision. State law and parliament affairs secretary Abdul Majeed, when asked about government probes into the killings during the 2016 uprising, said that announcing inquiries into civilian killings was a “government’s policy decision”.
“I have no idea about the inquiries. I think the government can speak on it. It is a policy decision,” Majeed said.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Basheer Khan said the government “has not given any directions” to initiate probe into the civilian killings. “If they will issue the directions, we will implement the instructions,” Khan said.
Law minister Haq Khan and government spokesman Nayeem Akhtar did not responded to repeated phone calls. The media advisor to the government, Suhail Bukhari, said he had “no idea about the subject (of an inquiry)”.
“I can’t speak on the issue. I think it is better to consult the government spokesman to find out the details,” Bukhari said.
State chief Secretary BR Sharma refused to comment on the issue, saying he was busy with a “cremation ceremony”.
Patron of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and human rights lawyer Parvez Imroz said the government was not initiating a probe because it had no concept of accountability.
“There is no word called accountability in the dictionary of the government. It will remain callous to the demand of probes,” Imroz said.
“There can be another reason that they do not want to punish the officers who were responsible for the mayhem and using excessive force against Kashmiris during the past five months. They think any accountability of forces will demoralize them,” he further said.
Inquiries into the 85 killings this year hold significance in the aftermath of the justice KL Koul report on the killings of the 2010 Kashmir uprising. The inquiry report has indicted the armed forces for firing upon demonstrators without magisterial orders.
About 120 people, mostly teenagers, were shot dead by armed forces during the 2010 civilian uprising.
Justice Koul, who took six years to complete the probe, said the fire-power used against protesters was “neither commensurate nor proportionate to deal with the disturbances.”
While indicting the state administration for being “inactive and indolent” in tackling the law and order situation in Kashmir, Justice Koul recommended a CBI probe into the killings of Tufail Matoo. It also recommended that a murder case be registered against police personnel involved in “torturing Umar Qayoom of Soura to death”.
When contacted, Justice KL Koul refused to divulge the contents of the probe report.
Earlier, local newspapers quoting unnamed sources have reported that following the instructions of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, the government was ordering inquiry into the killing of only seven of the 85 civilians killed by police, army and paramilitary forces. Reports are that the government will be inquiring into the killing of Junaid Ahmad, 12, of Saidpora, Eidgah; Shabir Ahmad Mir of Tengpora, Batamaloo; lecturer Shabir Ahmad Mangoo of Khrew, Pulwama; ATM guard Riyaz Ahmad Shah; Showkat Ahmad Itoo, 25, Nabiza; and Saida Banoo, 42, of Churat, Qazigund.
No official confirmed to Kashmir Reader that the government was investigating only the causes of these seven deaths.
Newspapers have further reported that the chief minister has refused to order inquiries into other killings as she thinks the killed civilians were party to the “violence on streets by participating in protest demonstration and marches or by storming camps of police, army and paramilitary forces.”
Over the years, the government has been announcing three types of probes into civilian killings at the hands of armed forces in Kashmir. These comprise magisterial inquiries led by Deputy Commissioners, judicial inquiries, and statutory inquiries under the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Act of 1962. However, such inquires rarely conclude or lead to any action.