August 2001 News

Advani''s amnesty move draws flak in Kashmir

21 August 2001
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: The Union Home Minister, Mr LK Advani''s announcement to grant amnesty to the security force personnel accused of human rights violations has been received with shock in troubled Kashmir Described as a ''slap on democracy'', the move has evoked strong resentment with condemnation from all quarters . Yet to reconcile with the Disturbed Area Act having been extended to the entire State, people see a motivation in such announcements to ''crush the people, that too unlawfully''. Irrespective of party lines, there is unanimity in terming the move as shocking. ''Since an extremely draconian law is in force in the disturbed State there is hardly any chance for a conviction against the security force personnel, so there is no justification for granting amnesty,'' said Mr. Muzaffar Hussain Beig, a senior Supreme Court lawyer, adding that it sent a wrong signal to security forces - that a free hand had been given to them. The chairman of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat, said Mr. Advani was reasserting to implement his pro- active policy in Kashmir. ''It is an open licence to security forces to kill people despite the fact that they enjoy unlimited powers to do so,'' he alleged. The JKLF spokesman, Mr. Tahir Mir, said such steps had no place in a democratic world. ''It will encourage state terrorism in Kashmir which has crossed all the limits in last 12 years,'' he added. Even Mr. Advani''s own party, BJP, in Kashmir is opposed to the move. Its State vice-president, Mr. Abdur Rasheed Kabuli, said ''it will have dangerous consequences''. Disagreeing with the NDA''s Kashmir policy, Mr. Kabuli said it had been on a spree of committing historical blunders. ''It reflects the BJP''s anti- Muslim policy'' was the reaction from the former Chief Minister, Mr. G.M. Shah. The People''s Democratic Party (PDP) vice- president, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, said it would distort the image of India as the biggest democracy. ''It will directly affect the already oppressed people in Kashmir,'' she said adding that such announcements would further alienate the people. ''It is most unfortunate,'' said the CPI(M) State secretary, Mr. Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, adding that in a democracy like India even the Prime Minister was not above law. The reaction from the National Conference was no different. The Minister of State for Law, Mr. Mushtaq Lone, said ''this law cannot withstand the test of constitutional provisions and requirements of justice. Nobody is above law and the Centre cannot make a law exempting a particular class of people from accountability,'' he added. Human rights organisations are equally upset. The Human Rights Front chairman, Mr. Mohammad Ahsan Untoo, said the front would go to court. ''Unconstitutional'' UNI reports from New Delhi: Human rights activist and former Delhi High Court Chief Justice, Mr. Rajindar Sachar, today described Mr. Advani''s move as ''unconstitutional and having shades of Hitler''. ''Mr. Advani''s statement will have the unfortunate effect of making the security forces act like the Gestapo (the espionage service of Hitler),'' he said in a statement here. Existing special legislation, such as the Armed Forces Special Power Act, provided ''unwarranted'' power to security forces to even shoot down a person. But the law certainly did not provide protection for ''excessive use of force.'' Such a statement from the Home Minister bode ill for a democratic and civilised Government, he said.


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