Five dozen too many

Extra-judicial killings must be investigated, and their perpetrators punished

Praveen Swami provides much need illumination amid all the noise following revelations of extra-judicial killings by counter-terrorism forces in Jammu & Kashmir.

Activists have done themselves no favours with overblown comparisons of events in Jammu and Kashmir with the carnages perpetrated by General Augusto Pinochet’s military regime in Chile or even Nazi Germany — comparisons that serve only to valorise the dissent of those who use them, rather than accurately describe reality.

But India’s use of such errors to stonewall action against the perpetrators of human rights violations both demeans its democratic project and undermines the credibility of its institutions. Even if Mr. Sayeed was correct in asserting that just 60-odd enforced disappearances have taken place since 1990, that is still five dozen too many.[The Hindu]

This controversy has surfaced at the exact moment that the moderate Mirwaiz has (echoed Gen Musharraf) called for demilitarising Kashmir. The government and the media must resist linking the two issues. The question of troop levels is related to the security calculus with Pakistan. The alleged criminal acts carried out by Rashtriya Rifles troops is a different matter. As Swami writes, India should spare no attempts to get to the bottom of the story and mete exemplary punishments on those found guilty.

As Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad pointed out, it would naïve to expect zero human rights violations in the midst of a quasi-war. But the Ganderbal killings have demonstrated that the system can deliver justice when it chooses — after all, had investigators thrown away a mobile phone the truth about the murders would never have been known. [The Hindu]

4 thoughts on “Five dozen too many”

  1. nitin, this raises the important issue of the role of the army in internal security. can we divest the army of that role and empower the police? the army is seen as being too armed and evokes fear in the people.

    the army shud ideally be used to secure indias territory and not maintain internal security. these killings mite be because the army is stretched beyond its capacity, therefore can we divest the army of its internal security duties?

  2. AFAIK, internal security (in the Valley at least) was being handled by the BSF, and they will be replaced by the CRPF by April.

  3. The Chief Minister acknowledges an uncomfortable truth when he implies that in the state of insurgency, it is impossible to expect no human-rights violations…the problem has its roots in the Indian army note being very well equipped with the apparatus to fight terrorism. through a decade, they have learnt valuable lessons in counterinsurgency, something american forces are yet to do in Iraq.
    It remains to be seen how well a locally-governed, locally-staffed law enforcement agency will do in J&K, in terms of actually maintaining order. I cite the J&K sex scandal as a prime example how a police force with near-totalitarian powers can run amok. But consider the socioenconomic impetus that may be generated, by involving the kashmiris with the means to defend themselves.

    For the moment, it seems that the BSF And the CRPF will have to do. These cadres need to be made aware of the social problems of the region before being thrown into the melee, and causing another incident.

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