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The people of Kashmir have every reason to suspect official claims on the recent killings in Kupwara.  A similar claim was made by the army in the case of the Machil fake encounter where it was later proved that the slain were civilians who had been taken to a particular area and killed.  And who can forget the Pathribal killings when the then Indian Home Minister had, on the floor of the Parliament, lauded troops for eliminating the five `terrorists’ said to have been involved in the Chittisinghpora massacre.  There are other examples that can be cited here to prove that the armed forces do not always state the truth particularly when claiming having shot dead `dreaded foreign terrorists’. People have no faith in the probes the government orders from time to time to quell public protests.

Around two hundred probes have been instituted in various incidents over the past two decades, but findings in most of them have never been made public.   False claims by security agencies and dissimulating official probes have maligned the image of the government and the armed forces to such an extent that people find it extremely difficult to believe their assertions.  How should the truth about the recent Kupwara killings, therefore, be ascertained?  Determining the truth and identifying the slain is necessary. Muslim Personal Law stresses on the need for establishing the fate of a missing person. A missing or disappeared person is deemed dead after four years. This means the wife of the disappeared person can go for a second marriage after four years if no information about her missing husband is received. But, to settle issues of inheritance, she and other heirs have to wait for ninety years.  The identification of persons killed in such encounters, therefore, becomes all the more necessary.

The best way is to publish photographs of the slain in local newspapers. The exercise can be repeated several times depending upon the response it evokes.   Similarly, no claim about such killings must be accepted unless a seizure memo, signed by responsible individuals of the area where the incident has occurred, is obtained by the police. The memo must contain the serial number and other details of the weapons seized in such cases.
This is exactly what the procedural law requires.