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J&K Police has been killing people in fake encounters, says Kashmiri legislator

New Delhi: National Conference leader and member of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council Javed Hussain Shah has revealed that the state police has been killing innocent people in fake encounters as a matter of routine.

Shah should know because he has been, by virtue of his past as a renegade or surrendered militant, quite close to the police. He was instrumental in weaning several hundred young men from militancy and getting them to lay down arms in 1996. All this needed close cooperation with the police.

These surrendered militants have been of great help to the police and security forces in identifying militants and their modus operandi. Many of them were co-opted by the police as "special officers" doing the dirty work for the police, like elimination of suspected terrorists, and even killing political workers opposed to undemocratic and illegal ways of the state.

Shah disclosed at a press conference in Srinagar on November 17 (reported in detail by the Greater Kashmir newspaper, November 18), that most of the attacks on journalists in Kashmir, were carried out by the state police. That included murderous attacks on BBC correspondent Yusuf Jameel and one of the senior members of the journalistic community in the valley, Zafar Meraj.

He said he had cautioned two local editors about the planned attack on Meraj, who somehow could not get the hint and came under heavy gunfire. Fortunately, he survived despite sustaining grievous injuries.

In most such attacks surrendered militants-turned-special officers are used by the police for illegal work. He said the state director general of police AK Suri had recently asked him to give him some of his (Shah’s) "boys" as he (Suri) had to get some more people killed extra-judicially.

Shah claimed he had informed the then chief minister Farooq Abdullah about these operations. Abdullah had promised to get the issue investigated. However, his government was voted out of power and nothing could be done about it.

Shah said he feared for his life because the police, to cover up its misdeeds, might try to eliminate him. In the past human rights activists have disappeared or been extra-judicially killed. In quite a few deaths no militant outfit owned up the killing. The needle of suspicion in the murder of outstanding human rights activists like Wanchoo turned towards the police and their hired assassins, the special officers.

One of the poll planks of present chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the disbanding of the Special Operations Group (SOG) which has been accused of extrajudicial killings.

Earlier this month Sayeed told police officers in Jammu to adopt more humane ways of tackling terrorism. "The image of police should be such that the people find friends in them, and this is the need of changing times in a civilised society," he told them.

The present police apparatus in India is a creation of British imperialists who needed the force to intimidate and repress Indians. The mindset of the police has not changed yet despite five decades of independence from the British.

Human rights activists have shown concern over the large number of deaths in "encounters" with the police. Quite often the police kill innocent people in such fake encounters, which makes a mockery of democracy.

The latest of such killings came in New Delhi earlier this month when two alleged Pakistani militants were killed in the basement of a shopping plaza. The media raised quite a few questions about the genuineness of police claims, none of which were answered in a satisfactory manner. To top it all, an eye witness said the two "militants" did not have any arms and did not fire at the police as claimed by them. Pakistan refused to receive their bodies saying they were not Pakistanis.

¯ MG Correspondent

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