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Indian Democracy Under Threat If Unquestioned Powers To the Armed Forces Not Curbed

by Kashmir Times, 22 December 2009

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Kashmir Times, 22 December 2009


Institutionalising injustice

Making forces habitual to a culture of brutality and impunity

The Shopian rapes and murders case is a grim pointer to a very bleak reality - that the process of institutionalising not just human rights abuse but also denial of justice is fully complete. This is amply demonstrated by the consistent effort by one investigating agency after the other to muddle up truth and fabricate evidence to hush up the case in an obvious bid to shield the guilty. The Shopian case becomes significant for the fact that it is not simply about denial of justice to the two victims and obfuscating truth. It is illustrative of how legal instruments and agencies of the State are misused in pursuit of institutionalising injustice. Had it not been for the very persistent and peaceful struggle of the people of Shopian, this process may never have become so evidentally clear. The series of investigations have pointed to an obvious bid to hush up the case rather than revealing the truth. The real picture has been obfuscated totally with too many distorted stories and rumours right from the very beginning. The latest CBI chargesheet which is also unable to explain why the police has not recorded any evidence in the first place or made attempts to fudge evidence, or given a detailed account of how and why the doctors in the first and second post mortems could have floated and circulated so many different post mortem reports, has only made wild assumptions which can be easily challenged. In the light of such distortions and contradictory stories freely flowing around, it maybe difficult at the moment to establish rape with concrete evidence. But there is enough evidence to suggest that the two women did not drown or did not die a natural death. But the clear negation of the same suggests that there is an obvious bid to shield the obvious - men in uniform.

In fact the Shopian investigations reveal the systematic patterns of denial of justice in the manner of fudging evidence and post mortem reports. Looking back, there are a series of cases of human rights abuse at the hands of security men that are littered with stories of fabricated evidence or of post mortem reports that were either fudged or never made public. Everything points out to a policy at the Centre to give unlimited and unaccountable powers to the men in uniform. Whether this is being done by design or sheer miscalculation, the fact remains that the centre is in no mood to rein in the powers of the security forces and the police which too has been involved in counter insurgency operation for the last one and a half decades. This clearly indicates how the agencies of the State are getting an upper hand on issues pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir. This has ominously dangerous portents. Not only would such a policy ensure a perpetuation of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, eclipsing all chances of dialogue, peace, justice and normalcy in this state. In a bid to ensure that the security forces are not demoralised or embarrassed in any way, the government has clearly tread on the path of ensuring that security forces are encouraged to carry on with repressive acts and brutality as also curbing the civil liberties and democratic rights of the citizen. This also does not augur well for any democratic country and the sustenance and stability of democracy. A sizeable chunk of the armed forces and other central para-military forces are operating in Jammu and Kashmir. Making such a major chunk of the forces habitual to a culture of brutality, impunity and unaccountable powers that cannot even be questioned by the Executive carries the perils of such a culture spilling out to other parts of the country. The areas of naxal-related violence, where stories from Kashmir, have started echoing may just be the tip of the ice-berg. These can spread out easily and quickly elsewhere also, threatening the very democratic fabric of the country, whose fragility is imminent if the forces continue to operate with unbridled and unreined freedom or unquestioned powers.