Azad vows to wipe out ‘predators’ in armed forces
5 March 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today described the Ganderbal fake encounters as ‘‘brutal acts of predators in uniform’’ and vowed yet again that atrocities of police and security forces on innocent civilians would never be tolerated by his Government in Jammu and Kashmir. Declining a direct comment on the rising disharmony between Congress and PDP over the issue of withdrawal of troops, Mr Azad asserted that he was not among the politicians who had been laying nets and fish baits to hoodwink their own people for personal vested interest. Addressing a massive gathering of over 12,000 people at a famous garden in Kokernag, Mr Azad admitted that there were some ‘‘predators’’ in police and security forces who had been killing innocent civilians to earn rewards and promotions. However, he said his Government was committed to regard its public announcement of zero-tolerance to human rights abuse and nobody, found involved in such killings would be spared in seeking maximum punishment for the criminals in uniform. Referring to custodial killing of four Kokernag civilians by SOG in Ganderbal, Chief Minister regretted that ‘‘some of those who were supposed to protect us from terrorism’’ had proved to be ‘‘beasts in human fatigue’’ and killed innocent civilians only to earn rewards and rank promotions by deceit. ‘‘Five innocent civilians, who were not even remotedly linked to terrorism, were done to death in custody. I could have come earlier with my condolences to the bereaved families but I made it a point that I must go there only after initiating severe action against the guilty.’’ Azad said. He said that the State Government under his command had wasted not a moment in ordering attachment and arrest of the SOG Ganderbal officials, including an SP, an constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to identify the criminal elements and get them punished by law. Without making a direct comment on the Congress-PDP feud over the hot issue of withdrawal of troops, the Chief Minister observed that 'some politicians' had mastered the art of hoodwinking their own electorate 'by way of laying nets and fish baits'. But, let it be clear that I am not one among such politicians. I strongly believe that a party should be subservient to the people. It's unfortunately quite the opposite in certain political parties', Azad added. He asserted that the security forces would, of their own, return to their barracks and the position of 1988 would follow the end of terrorism in the State. 'I believe there could be no politics on this issue. It would be rather a great sin to beguile the people into fantasies with hypocrisy and hollow slogans', Mr Azad said. 'Those playing politics over demilitarisation forget that security forces and police had been sacrificing their own lives to protect those of the common people. Before raising the bogey of demilitarisation and withdrawal of troops, such politicians ought to have given an undertaking that no more innocent civilians would be tortured or killed by terrorists. According to him, certain politicians had been misleading and exploiting the poor people of Kashmir 'only to meet their own vested interests'. He pointed out that participation of thousands of people in Kokernag in his public meeting was a strong testimony to the fact that the Kashmiris were yearning for peace. He said he was proud that his forefathers were residents of Kokernag area. Azad sought credit for the fact that his Government had recruited thousands of unemployed youth into the Government services even as a large number of vacancies had been referred to SSRB and PSC for selection of incumbents. Earlier, the Chief Minister distributed relief cheques of Rs. One lakh each and appointment orders to the next of kin of those killed in custody. They were also provided relief of Rs. 11, 000 each out of the funds meant for rehabilitation of militancy affected people. Interacting with the affected families the Chief Minister assured them that steps would be taken to impart education to the orphan of such affectees. On this occasion, Education Minister Peerzada Mohd Sayeed projected various demands which include setting up of Degree College and granting of sub division status to Kokernag area.