Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday evening announced a judicial probe into alleged fake encounters in Kashmir and promised that those found guilty of killing innocents would be punished as per law of the land.
Reaffirming his government's "commitment to protect the lives of the innocents", Chief Minister declared in the legislative Assembly that a judge of the High Court will probe the killing of Abdul Rehman Padder of Larnoo, Kokkernag and all other related cases.
But, he made it clear that had the members in the House not insisted for a judicial probe, he would have made the investigations to come out with results within a week's time.
He was replying to more than two and a half-hour special discussion on the human rights violations in Kashmir. The discussion was held in the afternoon session of the House, as the opposition had stalled the proceedings of the Assembly in the morning session, accusing the Government of trying to play hide and seek game on the issue of alleged fake encounters.
Almost all the participants in the discussion, ranging from leader of the opposition Abdul Rahim Rather and PDP's senior leader Ghulam Hassan Mir, called for a judicial probe into the incident. Some of the MLAs went onto seek the judicial probe into all such incidents since 1990, the year when terrorism erupted in the state.
Responding to the discussion that had turned bitter at times, Chief Minister said that he was ordering a judicial probe "despite knowing that is a long drawn process and it may take a long period for its outcome, only because he wants to respect and honour the unanimous sentiment of the House."
"Any one killing an innocent deserves the punishment of a killer. There can be no compassion and no mercy for that, be he a terrorist or security personnel. Black sheep in security forces would be punished, for they are tarring the image of the security forces that fight terrorists in sub zero temperatures, in the most difficult situations."
"We sleep well, because we know that we are being guarded by the security forces," he said complimenting the Jammu and Kashmir police, BSF, Army and CRPF, and acknowledged their sacrifices. "More than 5,000 of security personnel have been killed in the past 17 years. This should not be forgotten. We must respect their sacrifices, and reward their efforts."
But before announcing the probe, Azad offered a word of caution to the members of the House that they should not become a part of a campaign of demoralising the security forces. "We should not demoralise security forces so much that they give up their fight against militancy, and that jeopardises lives of each and every citizen of the state. We should avoid that brinkmanship."
Chief Minister without naming any one said that it should be understood that militants are friends of no one. "The militants have made all of us in Jammu and Kashmir hostage. Their presence, their lethal intentions and violent acts and killing of innocents, political leaders, activists have restricted the movement of all peace loving people. That is the worst kind of human rights violation."
He also reminded all the members that no human rights violation has been his government's mantra since he took over Chief Minister.