JAMMU, Apr 4: Official statements contradicting official reports and records only strengthen the impunity security forces enjoy in Jammu and Kashmir. Though several official statements have claimed penalisation of accused security men, but the records fail to shed light on the same. Who was penalized? When? Where and by Whom? These questions continue to puzzle.
Official statements which have a tendency of generating catchy headlines and attracting public eye are seemingly made without even seeking preliminary reports from the officials on ground. A thorough analysis of various reports and statements made by various officials of army and central government apart from the respective home ministers of Jammu and Kashmir explains all.
Ministry of Home Affairs in its Annual Report for the year 2007-08, while referring to the human rights issue, says “Since January, 1994 till December, 2007, out of 1,158 complaints of human rights excesses received against the personnel of the Army and Paramilitary Forces, 1,118 have been investigated, 1,085 of them found false, in 33 cases where the complaints were found genuine, penalties have been imposed on 62 personnel while in 6 cases compensation has been awarded.”
A similar report for the year 2006-07 maintains that since January, 1994 till December, 2006, out of 1,122 complaints of human rights excesses received against the personnel of Army and Paramilitary Forces, 1,084 have been investigated, 1,052 of them found false, and in 32 cases where the complaints were found genuine, penalties have been imposed on 61 personnel while in 6 cases, compensation has been awarded.
Accurate analytical understanding of the above official record reveals that in the year 2007, Ministry of Home Affairs received 36 complaints of human rights violation, 34 were investigated, out of which 33 were found false. In one complaint which was found genuine, 1 personnel was penalised.
Given the fact that SHRC registered more than 100 complaints against Army and paramilitary forces during the same year, the figures seemingly appear puzzling. If this figure is taken into account, Union Home Secretary V.K.Duggal’s official statement on November 23, 2005, that since January 1990, 215 personnel belonging to army and paramilitary were penalised, turns out to should be a blatant lie. Former Prime Minister of India H.D.Deve Gowda in the year 1996 while speaking in a seminar organised by the army stated that 272 members of armed forces have been punished for human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir since 1991. One wonders who gave him these figures.
Former Chief of the Army Staff General N.C.Vij on May 21, 2004 stated that two thousand complaints of Human Rights violations were received during the last 14 years. “Most of them were found incorrect. 35 armed forces personnel were punished which included 8 officers. Some of them were dismissed from service and later on jailed,” said General Vij.
Even this figure is a little higher than the one quoted in the report of Ministry of Home Affairs. However, the same General has in a contradictory letter to NHRC Dated May 24, 2004 stated that 131 army personnel of various ranks were punished for human rights violations. He has maintained that two of them were given imprisonment, 59 awarded rigorous imprisonment, 15 dismissed from service while 55 others were awarded minor punishments like fines, loss of seniority, censure and displeasure.
Former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on March 4, 2005 said that 118 officials of security forces were awarded punishment for their alleged involvement in HR violations in Jammu and Kashmir which included 44 from Border Security Force, 47 from CRPF and 27 belonging to police. He gave this as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir in the Legislative Assembly during the budget session.
Former Minister of state for Home Abdul Rehman Veeri had claimed again in the legislative Assembly on June 21, 2003 that coalition government was investigating the involvement of 53 Special Operation Group personnel for their alleged involvement in human rights cases. He had further claimed that 272 members of armed forces had been punished in Jammu and Kashmir between 1991 and 2005.
The most inexplainable case is the report on human rights practices for the year 1992 released by United States Department of States which says “As per the report submitted by Ministry of Home Affairs of Government Of India, 33 army and paramilitary personnel have been imprisoned for unexplained abuses in Kashmir, 27 of these for one month or less while 18 others have been dismissed and 45 demoted or reprimanded.”
It goes on to add “The only conviction made public is that of two army soldiers convicted for the rape of a Canadian lady Lurlambi in October 1990. Sanction for prosecution was granted. Both the soldiers are in barracks in Kashmir while an appeal is pending.”
Another former Minister for Home, who is also a minister in the ruling coalition Ali Mohammed Sagar in the year 2000 while speaking in the legislative assembly admitted that around 364 force personnel including 210 army personnel, 125 border security forces and 29 officers of special task force were convicted for violating human rights.
The list would go on and on. But going by these contradictory assembly of reports and statements, one is forced to ask who has been penalised and for what, when and where? Public memory may be short lived but it has a tendency of remembering the dead and disappeared persons in their families.
[Syed Junaid Hashmi,Kashmir Times]