In Jammu And Kashmir: Humiliation At Its Worst
By Syed Junaid Hashmi
24 April, 2007
people in Jammu and Kashmir have learnt a number of obnoxious terms
in the last seventeen years yet the term which has dominated the discourse
is "Crackdown". Legal experts describe the term as "illegitimate,
high-handed and atrocious" and opine that such operations in the
present atmosphere are uncalled for.
Oxford dictionary defines
the term "Crackdown" as "An act or example of forceful
regulation, repression, or restraint" while Cambridge explains
it as "crushing, quelling, stifling, suppression, forceful prevention;
putting down by power or authority. The dictionary adds that it is the
oppression of heresy; the quelling of the rebellion and the stifling
of all dissent".
In Jammu and Kashmir, especially
in those areas where violence continues in some form, crackdown is a
cordon-and-search operation in which security forces surround neighbourhoods
or villages and compel all male adults and teenaged boys to assemble
Those who have faced this
say that informer, whose face generally remain covered, working alongside
security forces point out to "alleged militants" or militant
sympathizers or relatives of the militants, adding that those pointed
out are detained without any warrant of arrest memo.
Legal experts say that although
the security forces enjoy special powers under various laws but nowhere
has anything like crackdown been mentioned in these laws. They add that
legal provisions do grant powers to security forces to arrest, search
and detain without warrant but carrying out a search operation where
threat to the lives of the common man increases cannot be justified.
They add that directions
have been passed by various courts including the highest court of law
i.e. Supreme Court of India have stressed that security forces should
not be allowed to arrest or carry out any procedure on suspicion alone.
These directions maintain that all their actions should have an objective
basis so that they are judicially reviewable which would also assist
those who file suit against the security forces.
Those who have faced the
crackdowns say that those detained are often tortured and in some cases,
those detained died in the custody of security forces. Human rights
organizations Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and
even the state human rights commission (SHRC) have documented cases
where people have been detained during the "crackdowns" only
to be killed later on in custody.
Further, some analysts say
that search operations like "crackdown" have alienated masses
in Kashmir and those who may not have been in favour of secession in
the past, have become so. "By allowing the security forces to carry
out search operations like "crackdown", alienation has increased
because people perceive it as government's persistent sanctioning of
grave human rights violations by the security forces in the state,"
said a human rights activist.
He added that it is a common
practice for security forces to conduct round ups. "Even today,
houses are combed without reserve and inhabitants savagely beaten and
threatened; old people were outraged. In general, a common man in any
part of Jammu and Kashmir undergoes an experience of deep humiliation
when he is caught in a search operation like crackdown, thus adding
to the alienation and making the task of winning hearts stiffer,"
said a senior leader of a prominent political party requesting anonymity.
Researchers from Kashmir
University maintain that a lot of women are crying for the fate of their
husbands and sons who either went missing or were killed in custody
after being arrested during a "crackdown" where they were
identified by informers working alongside army and paramilitary forces.
Experts say that in-view
of the emerging consensus on addressing the alienation of masses in
Jammu and Kashmir; the term should have lost significance during the
last ten years but they add that what "democratically" elected
governments after 1996 should have taken care of was abandoned. They
add that "Crackdown" is the worst form of abuse of special
powers which security forces have been enjoying and an important factor
in increasing alienation among the masses towards the democratic values.
When contacted, a senior
police officer who was previously part of the Special Operation Group
(SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir recently said that "crackdown"
is worst form of human rights violation which should be stopped immediately.
"People work alongside if you win their hearts, I have practically
experienced this and it is amply important in the present circumstances
that search operations like "Crackdown" are stopped once and
for all," said the senior police officer.
He added that crackdown increases
the hatred among the people towards the security forces and takes them
further away from the road of peace and prosperity. Senior People's
Democratic Party Leader Nizamuddin Bhat said that Crackdown is an obnoxious
"These types of operations
go against the spirit of human values. Keeping people out in the chill
of winter or blistering heat of summer do amounts to committing human
rights violations, hence these type of operations should be stopped
once and for all," added Bhat.
He stressed that PDP has
always desired to create an atmosphere where peace is restored in the
state with dignity. "For restoring peace with dignity, every such
operation which can alienate people should be stopped, there are various
other ways of conducting search operations," added the PDP Leader.
President Kashmir Bar Association
Mian Abdul Qayoom said that this is the worst form of human rights violation.
He stressed that "crackdown" is a punishment given to those
people who rise against oppression and tyranny. "There are number
of terms which have no legal justification but due to the prevailing
uncertainty in the state, security forces hardly take care of legality
and illegality while carrying out such operations," added Qayoom.
Writer is a journalist,
presently associated with jammu and kashmir's oldest and widely circulated
newspaper "The Kashmir Times". He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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