On 21 August, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir police for its tweet that, the commission said, tried to “glamorise” the killings of alleged militants, reported The Hindu.
The commission took a suo moto cognizance of the matter from “Twitter handle of Imitiyaz Hussain”, the Senior Superintendent of Police, the newspaper reported. The NHRC has asked for a report by 1 October.
On 21 August, Mr. Hussian had quoted the tweet by the Kashmir Zone Police that referred to the video released by militants of an ambush on a checkpoint party in Baramulla, north Kashmir. Mr. Hussain had written: “We work within the parameters of law, with utmost restraint and highest regard for human lives. Outlaws can only be cowards. Befitting reply by us with elimination of entire gang. Jai Hind”.
While stating that the Commission understood that “some police officer” had responded to the release of a video of an attack on the government forces, the NHRC said: “The officer has this way tried to glamorise the action taken by the police by killing four persons stated to be top commanders of a terrorist group.”
The newspaper quoted an NHRC source saying that it was Mr. Hussain’s quote-tweet that was brought to the knowledge of the Commission as being a senior officer he had retweeted and “endorsed” the Kashmir Zone Police’s tweet.
The police had originally tweeted: “By releasing video of attack, #terrorists want to glamourise #terrorism. But they can’t. We replied by actions & killed 04 top cmdrs, Sajjad @ Haider & FT Taimur Khan @ Abu Usman (seen in said video/attack) & Naseer @ Sad bhai & FT Ali bhai @ Danish within 72 hours. @JmuKmrPolice (sic).”
Adding that the commission said it understood that the police had been a victim of militancy and that the government agencies were trying their best to reduce violent incidents, it said: “In these circumstances, the forces while doing their lawful duty do have a right to respond in self-defence while they are dealing with an extraordinary situation like an ambush or attack by the miscreants, but it does not give the right to the police and security forces to kill anyone at their will and then glamorise the killing. This is unethical. The Commission is pained to notice that member of a disciplined police force has acted in a sheer reckless manner by posting such infuriating and unwarranted content on social media, which can only spread a message of lawlessness and anarchy.”
The Commission said officers in uniform could not be permitted to act in “such a negligent manner” that could result in a possible violation of human rights.
However, Mr. Hussain has rebutted the story, alleging that facts are twisted. On Saturday, he said: “I believe the reporter of [The Hindu] needs a lesson or two in English. She edited the story twice when called out by few people for twisting the facts. @India_NHRC hasn’t said any such thing in proceedings as she is claiming.”
The NHRC reiterated its 1997 guidelines and 2010 revised guidelines for the States and Union Territories to report all deaths in police action within 48 hours of the incident. It said earlier it had limited jurisdiction over Jammu and Kashmir, but after the State was made a Union Territory in August 2019 and the relevant provision of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 was repealed, the guidelines were applicable to it.
Earlier this year, the NHRC had written to the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Union Territories, asking them to intimate it of all custodial deaths within 24 hours and encounter deaths in 48 hours.
“As per available records, these four deaths in encounter with the police that occurred in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir have not been reported by the authorities which tantamount to violation of the specific guidelines issued by the Commission. Hence, the DGP is expected to explain the non-compliance while sending the detailed report to the Commission,” it said.