Srinagar: With an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections, the ruling alliance of National Conference and Congress Thursday decided to revive the Commission of Inquiry into the killing of nearly 125 civilians by police and paramilitary forces in the Valley in 2010.
The decision, taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, comes little over a month after the alliance suffered drubbing in Lok Sabha elections, which saw three PDP and as many BJP members replacing National Conference and Congress leaders in the Indian Parliament.
“The government has decided to appoint one-man judicial commission headed by former judge of J&K High Court Justice (rtd) M L Koul to enquire into the circumstances leading to deaths by firing, or otherwise, in ‘law and order situations’ in different districts of Kashmir Valley during 2010,” a government spokesman said in a statement here.
“The (CoI) will also enquire into the adequacy, or otherwise, of the force used, fix responsibility, wherever excessive force has been used, resulting in fatalities, and where due care has not been taken to avoid such fatalities,” the statement said.
Justice Koul has been also tasked to suggest measures to avoid the recurrence of such incidents in future and recommend the action to be taken against those found responsible in any such incidents.
The Commission has also been asked to submit its report to the government within three months from the date of issuance of the formal notification, the spokesman added.
On June 26 2010, government had appointed two former judges of High Court, Justice (retd) Syed Bashir-ud-Din and Justice (retd) YP Nagrota, asking them to probe the killing of 17 youth in police and paramilitary CRPF firing. The Commission, appointed (vide notification SRO-283) had a life span of three months from the date of issuance of the notification and it expired on October 29, 2010.
The term of Commission was not extended and its purview remained restricted to 17 killings—out of more than 125 deaths of unarmed protesters and bystanders at the hands of police and CRPF.
The CoI, as per government, had come to a halt as Justice Bashir-ud-Din demitted office of chairman SHRC on June 24, 2011 while Justice Nagrota tendered resignation as member of the Commission with effect from August 21, 2011 “expressing inability to continue its member because of his assuming office as chairman of State Accountability Commission.”
Later, in July last year, Director General of Police filed a compliance report before J&K High Court during the hearing of a PIL stating that the CoI stands expired and “no useful purpose would be served by constituting it afresh.”
“The (CoI) stands expired, and under the existing laws, it was not found feasible to restore this already constituted Commission to start working from the stage of work left over earlier,” then DGP Ashok Prasad had said.
Justice Koul, who discharged his duties as judge J&K High court from October 14, 1991 to October 31, 1994, was on October 4 last, appointed head of a one-man Commission to inquire into the circumstances that led to firing by CRPF in which four persons were killed at Gangran, Shopian on September 7 last coinciding with a musical concert by Zubin Mehta in the Shalimar Gardens on the banks of Dal Lake. The Commission was also tasked to ascertain identity of those killed and their involvement, if any, in militancy-related besides fixing responsibility of the incident and was initially asked to complete the investigation within a month. The report is yet to be submitted though.
While four persons were killed on September 7, another youth was killed by the CRPF when a procession demanding withdrawal of the CRPF camp at Gagran was fired upon by the paramilitary forces on September 11.
In 2008, Justice Koul was appointed by then government led by Ghulam Nabi Azad to enquire into the causes, circumstances and conspiracy, if any, in Ganderbal fake encounter killings of 2008.