Today, it was reported, that ex-SSP Ashiq Bukhari had made unequivocal and strong allegations against ex-Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah. First, that on hearing of the 2010 arrest of Muslim League leader Masarat Alam, Omar Abdullah asked on phone why he had been arrested and not bumped off. Second, that in addition to the official Rs. 10 lacs given to Ashiq Bukhari, an additional Rs. 15 lacs were given by Omar Abdullah “from his own pocket” Third, that Omar Abdullah had paid him Rs. 1.5 crore four times by cheque for outstanding work.
These allegations confirm the truth that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have known: extra-judicial executions, torture, disappearances and other crimes have been routinely used by the Indian State to control the population of Jammu and Kashmir. Fake encounters, as proposed by Omar Abdullah in the case of Masarat Alam, has been a regular tool of the State. Further, money – in the form of cash rewards for these crimes – has fuelled and sustained the work of various armed forces personnel, including police, in carrying out the necessary crimes. These allegations merely substantiate the pre-existing evidence on the numerous fake encounters and other crimes committed in Jammu and Kashmir, and re-iterate the urgent need for impartial and fair investigations to uncover the truth of past violations, including past attacks on political leaders such as Sheikh Aziz (2008), Chairman, Jammu Kashmir Peoples League.
The reported statement of Omar Abdullah is also reminiscent of an earlier reported statement of 13 January 2001, of the then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah who was reported to have stated that: “My orders to the police are wherever you find a militant, dispatch him as I do not want to fill jails”. This mirrors the later Indian Army Doctrine for Sub-Conventional Operations released on 31 December 2006 which speaks of “neutralizing all hostile elements in the conflict zone that oppose or retard the peace initiatives and secondly, at transforming the will and attitudes of the people”. Ashiq Bukhari himself has numerous allegations of human rights violations against him, in addition to responsibility, directly and/or under the principle of command responsibility, for the killing of 18 persons in Srinagar, upon him taking control of Srinagar as SSP in June 2010.
The present reported allegations must lead to formal proceedings i.e. criminal investigations. The cynical use of the media by criminal insiders to score personal political points is not a substitute for formal criminal proceedings. Further, while Ashiq Bukhari reveals part of the criminal enterprise, as did former Army Chief (retired), General V.K. Singh earlier regarding army funding in Jammu and Kashmir and the role of then SSP Anantnag, Farooq Khan, in the Pathribal fake encounter, numerous others remain silent and continue to enjoy the comforts of the State. Formally, all parties ensure impunity for crime, the continuation of corruption that supports State violence, and the formal denial of all information to the public, as RTI information sought on cash awards has been consistently denied.
Today’s revelations must lead to a public accountability of all cash rewards given to armed forces, including police, who as Indian State mercenaries have committed crimes in Jammu and Kashmir. The corruption that fuels crimes must be investigated, along with the crimes themselves.
As an immediate step, ex-SSP Ashiq Bukhari must stand by his statements and we will file a case against then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
Khurram Parvez, JKCCS