A year after the human rights violation in Budgam, Kashmir

Aakar Patel, Amnesty International India
9 April 2018 2:16 pm

Image Credit: Sirish Nimmagada for Amnesty International India

It has been a year since an event in Jammu and Kashmir that has troubled many of us. A man named Farooq Dar was abducted by the armed forces and tied to the front of a jeep. He was then paraded through villages for hours, apparently as an example to stone pelters. The army says this treatment was necessary to save the lives of soldiers who may have become hurt by protestors.

What followed this event was equally troubling: the Union government praised the actions of the army and the officer who admitted to ordering the kidnapping and torture was honoured with a medal. Of course not everyone in authority saw it this way. The State Human Rights Commission of Jammu and Kashmir identified the violation of the man’s rights, and asked the government to pay him compensation of Rs 10 lakh.

The Commission said this was for the “humiliation, physical (and) psychological torture, stress, wrongful restraint and confinement”. It is difficult to disagree with this finding. It rings true also in the way the man’s life has since unfolded. Recent reports confirm he remains in a state of trauma and unable to find work. His community has disowned him, accusing him of being a collaborator. The matter has become a part of popular culture, and clothing material and even a scene in a recent movie have depicted it — from the army’s perspective only, unfortunately.

After the violation of his rights on that day a year ago, the state has continued to debase him by denying him this compensation. The J&K government has washed its hands of the issue by saying it was not involved in the violation of the man’s rights and therefore was not liable to pay. The state has also pointed out, tellingly, the human rights commission’s observation that it had no jurisdiction to go into the conduct of the army.

And there lies the rub.

One of the real problems in Jammu and Kashmir, and in the other areas where the armed forces are working on internal security, is the blanket immunity offered to them. The laws exist for justice to be pursued against offenders, but no government in the Centre has seen it fit to use them. Parliament was told in January this year that not a single one of the crimes allegedly committed by individuals in the armed forces and investigated by the Jammu and Kashmir police had been approved by the Centre for prosecution in a civilian court.

This is denial of justice in plain and simple terms.
The anniversary of the violation at Budgam is only another marker of a long history of injustice.