PUCL on Burhan Wani's killing: Why is Kashmir boiling? A call to citizens to protest an encounter killing and brutal handling of aftershocks

Why is Kashmir boiling? A call to citizens to protest an encounter killing and brutal handling of after shocks.

PUCL Condemns Brutal Repression of Unarmed Protests in Kashmir and Urges the Indian State to act within the bounds of law to end terrorism in the state.

PUCL expresses its deepest concerns about the manner in which the Indian security establishment has handled the protests that erupted across the Kashmir valley as a consequence of the killing of Burhan Wani in a suspected fake encounter last Friday, 8th July, 2016. By many accounts, Wani was shot at from close quarters of about 4 feet in a cold blooded murder and not in an encounter. Two other persons accompanying Wani were also killed by a special team of the security forces. Such cold blooded killings camouflaged as “encounter” in an alleged gun-fight is unacceptable in a democracy. PUCL condemns both the Central Government and the PDP led J &K government for launching an operation to liquidate suspected or real terrorists in fake encounters instead of respecting the rule of law and prosecuting them.

During the last few months, many terrorists have been killed in Kashmir without noticeable protest, but following Burhan Wani's killing the valley is on fire. The widespread protests in the valley has led to the firing in which as many as 34 unarmed Kashmiris have been killed and over 92 people injured including those hit in the eye by the so called `non-lethal’ weapons firing pellets, instead of bullets.

It is important for the rest of India to ask why there is so widespread and determined protest now when there was no protest at such a scale every time alleged terrorists were killed? The obvious reason is that though the protesters accept that those who fight with arms must expect to be countered with arms as is the rule of war as well as peace, but to them, the killing of Wani was not in a real encounter but in a fake encounter after luring him to the place where he was killed with his two friends. Most lamentably, the circumstances and manner of Wani's killing are being concealed from the people, but the people of Kashmir know it and are seething with anger.

Some newspapers have reported the circumstances and manner of Wani's killing but placed it at some obscure place. For example, The Dainik Bhaskar, Muzaffarpur edition (11.7.2016 on page 17) has published an account of the encounter based on an interview of Upmita Bajpayee with an officer involved in the operation. According to the officer, a honey trap was set with a girl known to be close to Wani. She lured him to visit her at her house at the village Badmura. The security forces were tipped and were also informed that the terrorists were not heavily armed. The house was surrounded and was set on fire to force him out, as the Islamists do not want to die in a fire as it is like 'Dokhaj' (Hell). As the fire raged, Wani reportedly came out supported by two of his friends. The security forces shot him from a distance of 4 feet. They also killed both of his friends though they initially wanted to capture them alive but killed them, too. The heading of news item is KHUD JAAL ME FANSA THA WANI, SENA NE GHERA TAB NASE ME THA, 4 FEET DOOR SE MARA GOLI (Wani walked into the trap himself, when the armed forces surrounded him, he was inebriated, was shot from a distance of four feet ).

Kashmir would not have been on the boil if Wani were not killed in cold blood in a fake encounter after setting a honey trap. Most likely his death would have been protested like other cases of killing of terrorists in a real encounter but without the scale of current uprising.

It is important to point out that the alleged terrorists are being treated as worse than Nathuram Godse, who murdered Mahatma Gandhi and Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist, involved in Mumbai terror attack of 2008. None of them was shot dead like Wani. They were tried giving them the opportunity to defend themselves and finally punished according to the law. That is what the adherence to the constitution and the rule of law mandates and is the basis of our claim to be a civilized nation.

It is a shame that the rest of India is not protesting against the cold blooded murder of Wani and his friends. Their being a terrorist was not a greater crime than Gandhiji's murderer or Ajmal Kasab's role in Mumbai terror attack. Our law as reiterated by the apex court from time to time does not permit killing of terrorists in fake encounters and treats it as plain murder. The general indifference or support for the killing of Wani in the rest of India smacks of a double standard and angers and further alienates the people of Kashmir.

The PUCL demands that regardless of the difficulties, the State must fight terrorism within the frame -work of the constitution and the law of the land to win the trust of the people in the fairness of the Indian State and arrest further alienation of the Kashmiris. The lawless ways of the State are bound to add to the legitimate anger and alienation of the Kashmiris.

Sd./-

Prof. Prabhakar Sinha Dr. V. Suresh,
National President, PUCL National General Secretary, PUCL