Saturday, 1 February 2014

Protest organised against the closure of Pathribal fake encounter case of J&K

Photo by Akhil Kumar 

On 1st February 2014, at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, voices were raised against the closure of Pathribal fake encounter case of J&K. The protest was jointly organised by Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, All India Students' Association (AISA), Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU), Jamia Students' Solidarity Forum, New Socialist Initiative (NSI) and People's Campaign against Politics of Terror. The protest was supported by several other organisations and human rights' activists.

In the incident, in 2000, the army had killed five innocent civilians in the village of Pathribal. They had claimed them to be the "militants" who were responsible for the Chattisinghpora incident that had claimed the lives of 36 sikhs. However, it was establish ed by the CBI that this was a fake encounter. The "militants" were local innocent civilians. This case had gone to the Supreme Court which in 2012 had ordered the army to either allow the trial in the civilian court or conduct a court martial for the five guilty officers. The Army had opted for the latter. However, two years after, the army has decided to close the case on "lack of evidence". It has been alleged that the investigation was rigged. Another thing to be noted is that the army had opposed this case and argued that no case can be registered against its officers under the veil of AFSPA as it provides impunity and that it requires prior sanction of central government to prosecute as per Section 7 of AFSPA.

The organisers and supporters of the protest condemns this action of the army.

Ravi Nitesh, one of the organisers of the protest and a core member of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign argued that in this case, the army had overruled the CBI and the Supreme Court. Doing so, it has challenged the republic, the democracy. The army should not have an upper-hand. Being a part of the Indian department of governance, the army must respect the investigation and instructions of central agencies as well as of judiciary.

Anubhuti of JNUSU had talked about the suppression of human rights under AFSPA. Because of the legal impunity that it granted to the armed forces under AFSPA, there have been several other incidents of human rights' violation in the states of Jammu & Kashmir and Northeast India.

Activists of AISA, Shehla Rashid, V Arun Kumar and others, had also challenged AFSPA on democratic and humanitarian grounds. They argued this incident is not one of its kind. There are several reported and unreported everyday stories of human rights' violation in Jammu and Kashmir & North-east. These incidents also raise a question on the ideals of democracy.

Ameeque Jamei of People's Campaign against politics of terror had said that this and all other incidents of human rights' violation are a breach of the ideals of democracy, equality, truth and justice. The case should be re-opened.

Devika Mittal, a student and a core member of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, had argued that AFSPA-imposed violence presents a contradiction. On one hand, the Indian state lays claims on Kashmir and North-east but on the other hand, doesn't treat them as other citizens. Infact, they are not even treated as human beings.

Some notable human rights' organisations and activists had also extended their support and solidarity with the protest. Some of the names include Antony Arulraj of Hotline Delhi (a human rights' group), Human Rights' Activist Babloo Loitongbam, Dr. Raja Muzaffar Bhat (RTI and Social Activist, J&K), Dr. Walter Fernandes (Research Scholar and Activist), Kamayani Bali Mahabal (Sr Advocate and Activist), Kiriti Roy (Program Against Custodial Torture and Impunity), Kumar Sundaram (Activist, Co Editor-India Resists.Com), Madhuresh Kumar of National Alliance of People's Movement, Prithvi Sharma of Indian Community Activists Network, Prof. Nandini Sundar (Academician - Delhi University and activist), Prof. Ritu Diwan (Academician -University of Mumbai and Activist), Ovais Sultan Khan (Activist), Subash Mohapatra of Global Human Rights Commission, Suresh Bhat B. (Human Rights Activist), Tahir Ahmad of Mission Bhartiyam, J&K, Touseef Raina of Global Youth Foundation, Tanveer Hussain Khan (Political Activist, Srinagar, J&K), Wahid Dar - JKDYF and others.

The protest had seen participation from Kashmiris living in Delhi. Some of them like Haseeb Mustafa Alvi and Anees had also shared their experience of living under AFSPA. Haseeb had stated, "it is not surprising that this case was closed by the army".

Seram Rojesh, a research student of DU from Manipur, had also talked about the need to challenged the foundation of AFSPA. He had talked about how AFSPA has been caught in the blame game.

The organisers will also be submitting a memorandum to the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister with the following demands:

*Re-open the Pathribal case
*Provide the sanction to prosecute the officers and
*Repeal AFSPA from J&K and the North-East 

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