The din over re-looking the policy of awards and promotions extended to the army in lieu of killing militants in Jammu and Kashmir is getting louder with ruling coalition partner Congress and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) questioning "prize-for-kill" policy.
"New Delhi and the Defence Ministry have to re-look at the policy of awards and money being awarded to soldiers for killing militants in the state. Only brave-hearts and genuine talent in the army should be rewarded. We cannot reward criminals," J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president Saifuddin Soz told the Hindustan Times.
Soz, who also served as Union minister, has written to Defence Minister AK Antony raising the recent reported killings of three youth of Nadihaal allegedly by the army in a fake encounter at Machil on the Line of Control.
Soz said let the magisterial probe in the alleged killings by the army completes its investigations and the law will take its course against the perpetrators of the crime. "Nobody will be allowed to take recourse to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) if the magisterial probe points at the army jawans' hand in the killing. But it's too premature to say the AFSPA will be invoked," said Soz.
Denying the alleged fake encounter has vitiated the atmosphere ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Kashmir, Soz said: "The Prime Minister has made it clear that all actors in the system meant to deliver justice mush show zero tolerance for human rights violations," said Soz.
To a question on the incidents of violence occurring every time when there is a dialogue buzz or dignitaries making significant visits to the state, Soz said, "New Delhi and the state should ensure that no vested interest should be allowed to create hurdles in the way of the dialogue process now."
The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party has also demanded withdrawals of special powers to the army and sough a probe into all the killings the security agencies claimed on the LoC.
"The Machil fake encounter raises many questions beyond the obvious. These cast doubt on the entire range of encounters in the state," said Mufti Muhmmad Sayeed, patron of the PDP.
Mufti said are the fake encounters staged in Kashmir only for medals and rewards or to strengthen the argument in support of continuation of AFSPA, which is otherwise repugnant to the ethos, idea, and spirit of India.
"Since last year the number of encounters on the LoC showed a sudden rise. Authorities at the highest level in government of India made observations to the effect that while situation improved internally, attempts at infiltration had increased," he claimed.
The state government gives award money of Rs 2 lakh to the soldiers for killing a militant and the amount is multiplied depending how many militants are killed in a particular encounter.