The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has indicted the security forces for not adhering to standard operating procedures while dealing with the protesters during the Amarnath land row agitation in 2008 that left 63 protesters dead.
"During the incidents which are under consideration, I am of the considered opinion that all the standard operating procedures (SOPs) were thrown to winds by the law enforcing agencies," SHRC Member Javaid Kawoos said in his order yesterday.
Disposing of a petition filed by moderate Hurriyat Conference, Kawoos observed: "Not to say of adhering to any one of them (SOPs), they have perhaps straight away resorted to firing or firing of tear smoke shells directly aimed at the vital parts of the victims which yielded desired result, leaving many dead or many more seriously injured." The Commission, which has only powers to recommend action,asked the state government to constitute a high-level enquiry to identity the persons who by their "omissions and commissions, express or tacit, lapsed and erred" in their discharge of official functions.
It also recommended action as warranted under law against the officials who are found to have erred in their duties.
"After identifying the erring officers and their lapses,they be dealt with in accordance with the law because if they would have acted at proper time, we would not have witnessed the mayhem," the commission said.
The SHRC also asked the state government to provide ex-gratia relief to the next of kin of the deceased and those injured during the protests.
"I, after appreciating the whole gamut of 2008 disturbances and the manner in which the law enforcing agencies dealt with the same, recommend that for reasons discussed, the state government/district administration must extend ex-gratia relief in favour of the next of kin of all the deceased/ injured covered under the category as well. This will be the humane approach and extending a helping hand to all the desperate families," it added.
At least 63 people died during massive protests that rocked Kashmir over the then Congress-PDP government's decision to allot forest land at Baltal to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board for setting up permanent facilities for the pilgrims.
The PDP pulled out of the government as the death toll kept on mounting, leading to fall of the Ghulam Nabi Azad led government and imposition of the Governor's rule in the state.