In the last three decades, Kashmir has witnessed sever- al probes ordered by the government in various inci- dents of human rights violations. Countless times these probes have reached the investigation stages but mostly never seen a conclusion. In July, this year, the police had claimed that the killing of three militants, who were buried in Baramulla, north Kashmir. Over a month later, at least three family members identified the trio from a photo- graph — allegedly of the men killed in the “gunfight” — as their missing relatives who had gone to Kashmir in search of work. They were identified as Imtiaz Ahmad, 26, Ibrar Ahmed, 18, and Ibrar Ahmed, 25. As the DNA tests of the families were taken by the investigating agencies, who had begun a probe, it was found the trio killed in Shopian were indeed the missing labourers. The bodies were exhumed and returned to their families. The Army has also accept- ed that its personnel had “exceeded” the powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The probe was indeed conducted in a shorter period of time than in the past; however, the sentencing of those involved is still pending.
In a slightly similar case, in north Kashmir’s Sopore, Irfan Ahmad Dar, 23, was found dead in police custody after he was picked up by police personnel from his shop a day before. In this incident too, the investigating agencies have moved quickly and so far have suspended two police personnel who were escorting Mr. Dar at the time of the incident, as per the police. Both these cases do hint at a policy shift in government in dealing with the allegations of human rights violations. To this effect, the Lieutenant Governor of J-K, Manoj Sinha, has also made favourable statements. However, unless the probes are not concluded with the conviction of the guilty, the public in Kashmir will find it hard to repose their faith in the justice system, which has mostly been delayed and denied. Accountability and justice must be given, it is only the right of the aggrieved and not a favour from the government.
The editorial originally appeared in our 5-11 October 2020 print edition.