2010 army atrocities in Kashmir: J&K human rights panel protects Army

Srinagar: The State Information Commission (SIC) has ordered Jammu and Kashmir Home Department to consider ‘with the approval of the Competent Authority’ in disclosing ‘a certain part of information or categories of information’ from the one-man Koul Commission report that was constituted to ascertain responsibility for the killings of civilians in the 2010 uprising.

This was stated by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) spokesperson in an emailed statement here on Thursday, 22 Feb. The spokesperson added that instead of deciding the matter, the Commission has referred back the question of disclosure to the first appellate authority and has directed the Competent Authority only to consider disclosure of certain parts of the information which concerns relief, compensation and withdrawal of FIRs against victims. “The decision is a negation of the very purpose of the existence of the Commission. The decision by the Commission is nothing short of being subservient to the public authority, who have already denied and deprived the appellant of the requisite information not covered under Section 8 of the RTI Act,” added JKCCS statement. More than 120 civilians were killed by security forces in the 2010 uprising.

According to JKCCS, the report of retired Justice Makhan Lal Koul Commission on 2010 killings was submitted to the government in December 2016 but a copy and findings of the report were not made public. “After the public outcry, the government was forced because of the criticism from various quarters to appoint the Commission of Inquiry to establish the circumstances of these killings and hold the perpetrators responsible. It is in the public interest that this report is made public as it is also the right of the victim families who have participated in the investigation process to be made aware of the results of that process. The families have the right to justice and truth, which by non-disclosure of this report gets impacted,” argued the spokesperson.

JKCCS president, advocate Parvez Imroz, had filed an RTI on 10 January 2017 seeking a copy of the report but the information was not provided to him even after filing of the first appeal and subsequently, the second appeal was filed in the Commission. “The amount of time - from the filing of the RTI in January 2017 to the decision taken by the Commission in January 2018, is in itself an indictment of how public institutions function in the state,” said the spokesperson, adding that the “structure of impunity in Jammu and Kashmir is so deep and entrenched that the crimes perpetrated during the regime of previous government are being protected by the present regime. The impunity in Jammu and Kashmir is institutionalized and pervasive, which due to change in regimes or change of officers doesn’t alter. In Jammu and Kashmir, no government or public authorities have ever allowed justice to be the priority. The present government remains no different.”