Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, February 18, 2008

J&K State Human Rights Commission Gets a Failing Grade

Syed Basharat provides a timely report card on the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)

(Mr. Syed Basharat, 27, was born in Kreeri, Baramulla, and did his schooling in Kreeri, and later in Uri and Sopore. He graduated from the Degree College in Baramulla and completed his Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 2005. He has been a reporter for Kashmir Images, a Srinagar based daily, London based website Gaashonline.Com, and a Srinagar based journal, Globe. Currently, he is working as a special correspondent with Jammu based daily newspaper, The Kashmir Times.)

SRINAGAR, Feb 18: Devoid of a full fledged chairman, without its own building, manned by two out of five members, the report card of State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) presents a dismal picture of the state government, which has failed to implement its recommendations, rejecting them blatantly. Only 353 out of 600 recommendations have been implemented by the government since Commission's inception in September 1997 till November 26, 2007.

A home department communiqué sent to government vide number Home/ SHRC-221/2007 dated November 26, 2007, reads that 353 cases out of 600 have been implemented, 76 cases are to be implemented as they are 'under process'. "171 cases are pending with the police department and CID on account of inquiry and are yet to be screened," this communiqué reads further.

Sources in home department maintain that most of the recommendations made by SHRC are out rightly rejected by district level screening committees on the pretext that such recommendations do not fall under rules. In case of Jammu province this reports states that 27 out of 42 recommendations have been implemented. 15 recommendations out of 42 cases are to be put before district level screening committee which according to this report is 'under process.'

From its inception in September 1997 till February 28, 2007 total number of disposed of cases by SHRC is 3647. The commission has recommended ex-gratia in 626 cases. From February 28, 2007 to November 30, 2007 the Commission has received 495 cases and disposed of 332 during this period.

The Commission has received 578 cases of involuntary disappearances, 221 cases of custodial killings and 34 rape cases since its inception till December 31, 2007. The number of disposed of involuntary disappearance cases during this period is 283, custodial killing cases 61, and 10 rape cases were disposed of during the same period.

The Commission has not its own accommodation and it pays Rs 50000 per month for a 12 room building at Buchwara Dalgate. The construction which started five years ago on its own building near Moulana Azad road was stopped for unknown reasons.

The Commission sans its investigation staff which includes one superintendent of police, two deputy superintendents, one inspector, five head constables and 15 constables. This staff has been sanctioned only on October 23, 2007. The commission still relies on the police agencies for investigations of the complaints which are mostly filed against them only.

Recently an Inspector General of Police P. L. Gupta has joined the Commission in October 2007. Before him, Mohammad Shafi Wani was appointed in 1998 who remained for one and a half year in service with the commission. Later there was no IGP in SHRC for a period of two years. After two years lull, S S Oberoi was appointed who remained for next two years. He was later transferred.

Its is pertinent to mention here that under section 11(1) of the J&K protection of human rights act the commission is to have its independent investigating agency headed by IGP.

In its recent annual report the Commission has mentioned that it is disappointed to place on record to the effect that its entire recommendations are blatantly rejected by the government. "The recommendations are rejected by the revenue officers," the report reads further.
There is no full fledged chairman of the commission. Out of five members only two Habibullah Bhat (acting chairperson) and Bahdrinath Tingloo shoulder the overall responsibility of the Commission.

In September 2005, the then SHRC chairperson Justice A.M. Mir was quoted as saying that sofar as the implementation of the SHRC's recommendations was concerned, he was effectively "whipping a dead horse." "One of our earlier chairmen [said] the commission [was] a toothless tiger, and when the government withdrew the inspector general of police rank officer [attached to the SHRC], we did say that we have lost the tail as well. The executing agencies are behind all this," Justice Mir had charged.

In July, 2006 Justice A M Mir resigned from the post of chairman State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to protest against "growing human rights violations in the state and non-implementation of commission's recommendations." Making serious allegations on the government, Justice Mir had stated that SHRC was just'eyewash to befool the world community' that human rights of people are being respected.

"Ever since I assumed the office, I have been observing that the Government is not serious about the Commission. Though I made strenuous efforts to draw the attention of the Government towards the difficulties, the institution was facing, but nothing substantial happened," Justice Mir wrote in his resignation letter.

Now when the Justice M Y Kawoosa retired from SHRC in November 2007, the commission is yet to see its full-fledged chairperson.

No comments: