By Syed Basharat
SRINAGAR — Virtually upset over the ‘confusing’ statements issued by his administration, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today ordered a judicial probe with a time frame by a retired High Court judge into killing of five persons in Gagran-Shopian firing incident.
Addressing the Legislative Assembly here after the question hour was suspended in view of adjournment motions moved by opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other parties seeking discussion on Shopian, Kishtwar, Gool, Markundal, Samba and Hiranagar killings, Omar said different statements issued by his administration make the issues murkier.
The Chief Minister said these statements have created such mistrust among the people that even if the facts are brought to fore through police investigations or any inquiry; people will never accept them. “I think I will have to ask a retired High Court judge to go for judicial inquiry into the incident to find out the truth. And if any security force
personal is found guilty, he will be taken to task under law,” Omar said.
However, he said that he was convinced that one non-local among the five killed in the incident was a militant. “Had he been a Bihari his family would have come forward to claim his body. It is not believable that in this electronic age when mobile phones are common, that a person goes missing and nobody comes forward to trace him. It is also unbelievable that his phone details will not lead you to his family or relatives,” Omar said.
The Chief Minister said that others who got killed in the incident are innocent unless proven guilty. “The other local youth who got killed are being said were associates of the non-local killed at the place. But does associate mean they were militants and were guilty. That is the big question. We will have to give them benefit of doubt, as a person is
innocent unless proven guilty. We will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt who they were and that is why I am going to order a judicial inquiry,” the Chief Minister said.
He said that he is still not convinced about the facts, which have reached him on the incident. “Two motorcyclists, five people, four killed, one injured. I only know these things. Yes I am convinced only that one was a militant.”
The Chief Minister said there is no consent for unabated killings from any of the government that rule in Jammu and Kashmir. “A killing is most disgusting for any human being. Nobody will endorse any killing. But incidents of violence differ in their characteristics. In Gool, rumors got people killed, in Kishtwar there was a communal violence and Shopian erupted with a different kind of violence. As chief minister of state I know what I feel about these incidents and I know the same situation was faced by Farooq Sahib, Mufti Sahib and Azad Sahib as chief ministers of this state. The loss of human lives is most disturbing and painful for any Chief Minister,” he added.
He said that people question his silence over Shopian incident but he kept mum only because of his past experience. “I had committed mistake of sharing preliminary details of an incident in which it was said that two women were raped and murdered in Shopian.
Later CBI proved me correct. But till then it had created problems for me. It is also wrong that no FIRs were registered in 2010 killings. Police did its work and investigated
the incidents and brought facts in the notice of courts.”
The Chief Minister assured the people of Shopian that if in the judicial probe, security forces were found guilty of innocent civilian killings, would be booked under the law for handing over the severe punishment. He said that an impression is being given that
security forces have free hand to commit civil killings but the same is totally wrong. He referred to the arrest of a BSF officer in the killing of a youth from Brain and said that his case is in the court of law for final judgment.
The Chief Minister termed Pathribal and Machil fake encounters as failures of his and his father’s government. “I wish the Pathribal fake encounter which is pending before the Supreme Court should be disposed of with the same speed with which Delhi rape case
was disposed of,” Omar remarked, adding that people in Kashmir are disillusioned with the government but with the system itself.
Regarding communal violence in Kishtwar, Omar said a judicial inquiry is already under process. He however, informed the House that he had not sought resignation of former minister of state for home Sajad Ahmad Kitchloo but according to Omar it was Kitchloo who tendered his resignation just to save other regions that were about to get engulfed in the communal frenzy.
“I will never take credit of taking resignation from Kitchloo but it was he who informed me that certain elements were trying to misuse his position and the communal frenzy mayengulf Rajouri and Poonch areas as well. We were also apprehensive that if the Kashmiri drivers were beaten or their vehicles blazed on the national highway that would have set valley on fire. You don’t know how we saved Rajouri and other areas from being influenced by the communal frenzy erupted in Kishtwar,” he added.
On Village Defense Committees (VDCs), Omar said that their functioning is already under review and the government is trying to make these committees more accountable given the fact that militancy has declined in Jammu province. He informed the House that 57 cops and other security force personnel got killed during this year in different militancy related incidents.
Finally the Chief Minister assured the House that he will take all measures to prevent innocent killings in the state and anybody found guilty irrespective of his post or position will be brought to justice. – Kashmir Times