Sinha terms charges of HR violations against Army as propaganda
8 December 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Dismissing charges of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir as propaganda, Governor, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) S K Sinha has said 'Much is made of the army committing human rights violations. I don’t say there are none, but we check every single complaint.' In an interview with Gulf News, a reputed newspaper published from Dubai UAE with a circulation of over one lakh, the Governor said that of the 1,300 complaints, every single one had been investigated. 'Of these, we found 33 to be genuine and others false. We have taken action against the guilty personnel. Half of them have been dismissed from service and given prison sentences up to 12 years while other half were given lesser punishment in relation to their offence'. The controversial case of Major Halim Mahboob, whose alleged rape of a 30-year-old woman and her ten-year-old daughter, which brought Handwara, and much of Kashmir to a standstill last month is a case in point, the Governor said. When told that the residents of Srinagar believe that the major’s name is actually Vijay Raman and the case has been hushed up, the Governor reacted 'This officer’s name is Major Halim, who has been suspended pending an inquiry’. Recounting his days in Indian Army, the Governor, who as an ill-equipped Indian soldier fought off the marauding tribals, pays tributes to Kashmiris for the battle they fought to preserve their homeland. He hopes that they will again stand up for saving Kashmiriyat. To overcome the situation posed by the proxy war, he believes that a unified command of all forces and building bridges with the people will help greatly. When asked about the perception in Kashmir towards accession with India, the General said that a poll conducted by Lord Avebury in 2002 showed that 64 per cent of the population wanted to remain with India, while six per cent wanted to secede to Pakistan. 'At least 30 per cent are undecided,' says the Governor, 'that’s the percentage of the population I am reaching out to.' Asked what India had against a so- called ‘second’ partition, he said, 'We are wedded to secularism, and secularism is more important than the game of numbers. Kashmir has five million Muslims, the rest of India has 150 million Muslims. Are we going to sacrifice the future of 150 million Indian Muslims?' 'Fundamentalism is missing among Kashmiri Muslims. They believe in Kashmiriyat (Kashmiri community). The grievances have their genesis in corrupt Governments, but it’s only after Pakistan lost the 1971 war that it decided to foment militancy, by funding madrassas, that gave rise to a new generation that grew up believing in a fundamentalist philosophy. This led to the militancy in 1989,' he added. About border fencing on 700 kilometer area, the Governor feels that the fence, electrified after dark, has had a 'choking effect' on infiltration, which will be felt in the hinterland as the army raids hide-outs, 'forcing an attrition that will exhaust their stockpile of arms'. 'From last year, infiltration has come down by 70 per cent, the full impact will only be seen next year, when I am confident it will be down to a trickle.'