Chaos In J&K Assembly Over Youth's Killing
2 June 2003
The Asian Age
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Monday, the first day of its Budget Session, witnessed uproarious scenes as the Opposition, mainly the National Conference, tried to drive the PDP-Congress government into a corner by raising the issue of unabated human rights violations and its alleged failure to turn the tide. 'You have no right to be in power,' an angry NC member Shariefuddin Shariq, yelled pointing towards chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. The Opposition member was aghast over recent killing of a youth in Kupwara. A local youth, Muhammad Ashraf Malik, was presented before a local Army officer by his father, who had been approached by the officer earlier for the interrogation of his son, a casual employee with the state forest department. The youth was returned to his father in pieces. Kupwara witnessed a complete shutdown and street protests for several days before the authorities ordered a magisterial inquiry into the killing of the youth, allegedly by the Army major and his soldiers using explosives. 'It is shocking and shameful that his (youths) parents were given some 4 kg of the flesh from his mortal remains to convey he is dead,' Mr Shariq said. Soon several NC and other Opposition members were on their feet to lodge their protest and demand an explanation from the government. Another NC MLA, Mir Saifullah, made a dig at the chief minister and others in the Treasury benches by asking, 'Is this your healing touch philosophy?' Repeated pleas by Speaker Tara Chand to the members to resume their seats and allow him to take up the Question Hour went unheeded. The Opposition continued to protest and had arguments with some of their ruling coalition counterparts. Finally, the chief minister intervened to assure that his government was committed to protect human rights at all costs and no one should have any misgivings about it. He said human rights violations were taking place in the state for the past 13 years. 'What happened when you were in power? Have you forgotten Pathribal?' he shot back. Mr Sayeed said his government was more concerned about the reports of human rights violations that anybody else and was taking all possible measures to ensure such incidents do not take place. He, however, added that Jammu and Kashmir is passing through an unfortunate phase of trauma and bore the brunt of several major incidents. He offered a full day discussion on the status of human rights in the state in the Assembly instead of an hour, as suggested by some members, adding that the government had already ordered a magisterial inquiry into the Kupwara incident. 'We have applied a healing balm to the family and met the bereaved family members,' he said. Mr Sayeed appealed to the members, particularly the Opposition, to allow the House to function normally and as per procedure. The House, however, again saw noisy scenes when the Opposition as well as some Congress members protested the government's demolition drive in Srinagar and Jammu and some other towns across the state. Again, intervening in the matter the chief minister said his government would not dither from taking harsher decisions for good of the people and the state at large. He asserted the demolition of illegal constructions and removing encroachments would continue unabated. 'We won't deviate from our chosen path of setting the wrongs right, even if it entails anger from certain quarters,' he said. Mr Sayeed added, 'Come what may, all encroachments on the highways and at other places would be removed.'