An encounter at Hyderpora in Srinagar city which left four persons, including a foreign militant, dead triggered outrage in Kashmir as the families of the three slain men — building owner, Altaf Ahmed, Dr MudasirGul and Aamir Ahmed — rejected the police version about them being Over Ground Workers (OGWs) or being linked to militancy.
Next of kin of the deceased staged protests to demand their bodies back as they were buried by the authorities in North Kashmir’s Handwara area. The protests staged by the bereaved family members were supported by every section of the society, including politicians.
While former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah staged a sit-in, the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) –an amalgam of mainstream parties including National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and other small regional parties — held a meeting to condemn the killings of three men.
The Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq called for a shutdown against the killings, NC president Farooq Abdullah wrote a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind to seek a probe into the encounter.
The anger was on expected lines as no one can justify the killings of innocents.
After the pressure mounted, bodies of Altaf Ahmed and Mudasir Gul were exhumed from Handwara and handed over to their family members for the last rites.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the Hyderpora encounter.
“A magisterial inquiry by an officer of ADM rank has been ordered in Hyderpora encounter. The government will take suitable action as soon as the report is submitted in a time-bound manner. JK admin reiterates commitment of protecting lives of innocent civilians & it will ensure there is no injustice,” Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said in a tweet.
Additional District Magistrate, Srinagar, Khurshid Ahmad Shah has been nominated as inquiry officer. He has been asked to submit the report within 15 days.
Jammu and Kashmir Police Chief Dilbag Singh said the “police is open to correction if anything has gone wrong. A police probe will also find out what went wrong. We will find out what happened in the Hyderpora encounter. We are for the safety of people and will not shy away from a probe”.
Innocent killings are always painful.
Innocent killings are always painful. In fact no civilian killings can ever be justified whether these are carried out by the security forces or the militants but the condemnation and outrage shouldn’t be selective.
When militants turned their guns towards members of the minority community in October this year and shot dead eleven persons, including five non-local labourers, across Kashmir that time there were no protests or shutdown calls. Politicians did condemn the killings but no one staged a sit-in, nor was any meeting held to discuss the cold blooded barbaric murders carried out by the ultras. People from the majority community condemned the killings in murmurs and didn’t muster courage to come out on streets and tell the killers that no one can be killed just for his faith.
When non-local labourers started leaving the Kashmir Valley, members of the majority community couldn’t do much and expressed their helplessness. Kashmir in 1990 witnessed a similar situation when militants carried out the selective killings of Kashmiri Pandits (KP). The fear of getting shot dead triggered the mass exodus of the entire KP community from the Valley. They have been living in exile for the past 30-years. When Kashmiri Pandits were killed by the militants that time also no attempt was made to send a message that massacre of innocents is inhuman.
Gun provided by Pakistan turns towards Kashmiris
Kashmir has witnessed many ups and downs since 1990. The gun provided to militants by Pakistan to fight its war with India has turned towards the people of Kashmir and they are at the receiving end. After August 5, 2019 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories, thw situation in Kashmir has improved to a great extent. Stone-pelting incidents, shutdowns and street protests have become history. Militancy is also on decline as recruitment of local youth in the militant ranks has gone down. But people sitting across the Line of Control (LoC) don’t want Kashmir to come out of the darkness. Denizens of Kashmir and their leaders should understand that they have to stand up to call spade a spade. They have to muster courage to condemn the human rights violations committed by the militants at the behest of Pakistan. Mainstream Kashmiri leaders, who led the protest against the killings during Hyderpora encounter, need to lead from the front irrespective of whether a Hindu or a Muslim is killed in the Valley. They can’t be capricious about their choices. It’s high time to stop playing politics over dead bodies.
Remaining choosy won’t help
For Kashmir to change, first people and its leaders have to change. They have to understand that remaining quiet and being choosy about what to condemn and what not to condemn won’t help their cause. They have to go beyond it. Building a ‘Naya Kashmir’ is in their hands no outsider can come and help. The Centre is providing all possible support and is leaving no stone unturned to pull Kashmir out of the quagmire of uncertainty but the efforts being put in by New Delhi need to be reciprocated. It cannot be one-way traffic only. The coordinated efforts are needed to send a message to the adversary that it can no more mislead the people of Kashmir. Kashmiris have to condemn acts of violence against the members of any community vociferously.
Lieutenant Governor Sinha has assured that Hyderpora killings will be probed and if any discrepancy is found guilty will be punished. Jammu and Kashmir Police Chief Dilbag Singh has also stated that the force led by him is open to corrections. The government in no way is trying to shield anyone, it expects the same from the people of Kashmir i.e. they should also stop shielding the militants and their supporters and raise their voice against violence perpetrated against any human being irrespective of his faith and religion.