Kashmir rights panel seeks probe in 2008 Amarnath stir handling

Srinagar, June 20 (IANS) In a significant judgment, Jammu and Kashmir’s rights panel Thursday asked the state government to set up a high-level enquiry commission to identify officials who had failed to handle the Amarnath land row agitation in 2008, leaving 63 protesters dead.

It also directed ex-gratia relief to the injured and kin of those killed.

Disposing of a petition filed by the human rights wing of the moderate Hurriyat group, Javaid Kawoos, member of state human rights commission (SHRC), said in his judgment: “During the incidents which are under consideration, I am of the considered opinion that all the standard operating procedures (SOPs) were thrown to winds by the law enforcing agencies.

“Not to say of adhering to any one of them, they have perhaps straightaway resorted to firing or firing of tear smoke shells directly aimed at the vital parts of the victims which yielded desired result, leaving many dead or many more seriously injured.”

It asked the state government to constitute a high-level commission of enquiry to “identity the persons who by their omissions and commissions, express or tacit, lapsed and erred in their discharge of official functions”.

“After identifying the erring officers and their lapses, they be dealt with in accordance with the law because if they would have acted at proper time, we would not have witnessed the mayhem,” said the ruling.

The judgment asked the state government to grant ex-gratia relief to the injured and next of kin of all those killed during the disturbances.

“I, after appreciating the whole gamut of 2008 disturbances and the manner in which the law enforcing agencies dealt with the same, recommend that for reasons discussed, the state government/district administration must extend ex-gratia relief in favour of the next of kin of all the deceased/ injured covered under the category as well.

“This will be the humane approach and extending a helping hand to all the desperate families”.

As many as 63 people had died in bloody clashes between the protesters and security forces when massive protests rocked the Valley over the state government’s controversial allotment of forest land in north Kashmir’s Baltal base camp area to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

Although the allotment order was later rescinded, the then Congress-People’s Democratic Party (PDP) coalition government, headed by Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad lost power after the PDP pulled out of the alliance.

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