Kashmir Moves From One Crisis to Another
Paramilitary troops patrol a deserted street in Sri Nagar. Via The Hindu
NEW DELHI: Jammu and Kashmir is hurtling from one crisis to the other. Kashmiri’s battling with rehabilitation after the floods that savaged large parts of the state now find themselves fighting again for rights and justice after Army soldiers killed two young people, and injured two others.
Curfew was back in the Valley with strict patrolling, manned barricades, barbed wire on the roads as Srinagar and the Kashmir Valley shut down in response to calls from the separatist leaders against the Army action.
The Army has admitted that the soldiers who fired at the boys in a Maruti car had not followed the “rules of engagement.” General officer Commanding of the Srinagar based 15 Corps Lt General Subrata Saha told the local media that “we are ourselves questioning why the firing took place and why the rules of engagement were not followed.”
Soldiers of the 53 Rashtriya Rifles fired at the car in Budgam district. The Army has instituted a court of inquiry but this does not inspire any confidence amongst the Kashmiris, as in the past two several such inquiries have been held without anyone being publicly found guilty. The Pathribal whitewash, as reported in The Citizen, earlier this year has added to the suspicion and distrust here.
Lt General Saha said that the inquiry would be “unhindered.” And would examine why the Standard Operating Procedure was not followed. The two injured youth have told their relatives that the troops kept firing at the car even after they had stopped.
The Valley is burning with anger. November elections are being opposed by the majority in the Valley although there are several who are tying up with the BJP to contest the elections. A visible and well known face here is of Peoples Conference Sajjad Lone who has been in talks with the BJP for a while now, and is widely expected to be in alliance with them after the elections.
The National Human Rights Commission has written to the Defence Ministry and the Jammu and Kashmir government asking for details of this firing. In an official statement NHRC confirmed that it had written to the respective authorities calling for a full report about the incident.
Amnesty International too has condemned the incident, and demanded that “if sufficient evidence is found, suspects must be prosecuted in a civilian court, and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, must not be used to shield soldiers from prosecution.”
The CPI(M) in Delhi has also called for the revocation of AFSPA, saying that it had been demanding this for a while. It has condemned the killing.