The SOG question

The assembly has been informed that Special Operations Group and its predecessor, the Special Task Force, which the people of Kashmir remember as the barbaric tools of a militarised state apparatus, a cross between Stasi and Khmer Rouge, have been assimilated into the regular police in 2003, a year after the first PDP-led government took over the reins of power. Thereafter, the state minister for Home told the House, the anti-militancy operations are being carried out under the command of the district superintendent of police. The minister gave this information in reply to former National Conference leader Akbar Lone, whose party is accused of bringing these two beasts into being. While the NC has denied that is has anything to do with its creation, it cannot escape the blame for turning a blind eye to the brutalities of these two forces during its stint in the office from 1996-2002. Its main accuser is PDP, which takes credit for “disbanding” the SOG. One of the factors that built PDP’s political fortunes has been its repetition of the claim that it “disbanded” the SOG. In fact, the biggest slur the two parties hurl at one other is to blame each other for the creation of this force. The anathema to the SOG is so intense that PDP publically disowned the former senior superintendent of police and SOG’s star officer Ashiq Hussain Bukhari after a party spokesman told the media that he had attended an election meeting that PDP founder and chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had addressed in Kupwara. Although Bukhari had mobilised men and resources for PDP’s Lok Sabha election campaign, he slid into oblivion after that public disavowal. The fresh status update on SOG in the assembly only exposed a charade. Rather than asking what did the government intend to do to bring the SOG perpetrators of human rights abuses to the book, the NC legislator asked a very lame question. Everybody knows that PDP mainstreamed the SOG. The Opposition should have asked the PDP that how come it blessed the “assimilation” of a brutal force into the police without righting its wrongs. But it is a rhetorical question because in its second stint, from 2008 onwards, the NC never felt the need to look into this question. Hence, the whole exercise of asking the PDP about the SOG is a charade. The NC got away with the crime of siding with the dreaded group. The PDP got away with the crime of giving it legitimacy. In fact, the PDP got away with the bigger crime of lying to the electorate that it “disbanded” the group.