By Haroon Reshi
Srinagar: The authorities’ habit of ordering probes and inquiries into acts of human rights abuses does not cut ice with common people in Kashmir. The ‘inquiry’ initiated by the administration into the killings by government forces in the recent Handwara incident is the eighth of its kind during the past 14 months, since the PDP-BJP started parleys and then made an alliance.
Even as the deadline for most of these ‘time bound’ inquiries had been between 7 to 15 days, there has been no conclusive outcome. Officials say investigations were “going on” in these cases.
Rights activists say that in the wake of all these incidents, there is little hope that the latest probe order into the Handwara killings would evoke any result, culminating in fixing responsibility. “Probe orders after the killings of innocent people by government forces are being given to divert the public anger and to mislead the international community by giving a notion that a law and order mechanism is in place here,” Khurram Parvez, human rights activist and a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society told Kashmir Reader.
“There has never been a fair probe into the killings in Kashmir. We have no hope that the killers of people in Handwara will be punished,” he added.
Inquiry into Palhalan youth’s death
Three weeks before Mufti Sayeed took charge as CM, Farooq Ahmad Bhat, a 22-year-old, was killed in police firing in north Kashmir’s Palhalan area on February 9, 2015. Two other civilians were critically injured in this incident. Authorities had ordered a probe. Sub-divisional Magistrate Pattan was appointed as inquiry officer and was asked to submit the report within 15 days.
One and a half months later, on March 27, the locals of Palhalan took to the streets and staged a massive demonstration demanding the probe report. It was never made public whether the probe was actually completed or not.
Zurhama, Kupwara murder probe
On February 11, 2015, Nazir Ahmad Mughal (47), a resident of Zurhama in Kupwara was found dead under mysterious circumstances in police custody in Kupwara. The locals blamed ‘third degree police torture’ as cause of the death. After massive demonstrations, district authorities ordered a ‘magisterial inquiry’ into the incident. Additional DC was asked to submit the report within 15 days. It was never revealed what happened to the inquiry.
On April 19, 2015, Suhail Ahmad Sofi, a teenager was killed at Narabal village on the Srinagar-Gulmarg road when government forces opened fire on a protest demonstration against the killing of two youths in Tral area of south Kashmir. Suhail (15) died on the spot and two other youths were critically injured. The authorities had ordered ‘a magisterial probe’ into the incident, asking the Additional Deputy Commissioner, the inquiry officer, to submit a report within 15 days. According to an official, ‘the probe is still going on.’
Alleged fake encounter in Dardpora
On May 20, 2015, a magisterial inquiry was ordered by authorities into the alleged fake encounter in Kupwara. On February 2014, Army had claimed that it gunned down as many as 7 militants in Dardpora forests in Lolab Kupwara in a fire-fight. But locals had refuted the army claim, saying the deceased had been killed in a fake encounter. A massive protest had erupted in the area with the locals asking for the bodies of the dead.
After 15 months, the Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, ordered a probe into the matter. Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) had been nominated as an inquiry officer to conduct a magisterial inquiry. But 11 months have passed and the ‘investigation’ is still going on.
Serial killings in Sopore
On June 16, 2015, the then-chief minister Mufti Sayeed himself ordered a probe into the mysterious serial killing of six civilians in Sopore area of north Kashmir.
The matter was also discussed in a Unified Headquarters meeting on June 17. At that time it was also said that the chief minister has put in a place ‘a monitoring mechanism’ to keep track of the investigation process. But after 10 months, the investigators are yet to come up with a clue as to who killed these civilians. Neither was any report submitted to the government.
Pulwama firing incident
On August 11, 2015, Police opened fire on protesters in Pulwama in south Kashmir, killing a youth, Bilal Ahmad Bhat. The local administration ‘initiated an inquiry’ into the incident. Eight months down the line, no inquiry report was submitted to the authorities.
On November 7, 2015, a youngster, Gowhar Nazir, was killed near HMT Srinagar after a teargas shell hit his head during a protest demonstration. Again a probe was ordered into the incident but no report was submitted.