The advent of terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir [J&K] more than three decades ago saw the emergence of a unique breed of human rights activists. They are distinctive because rather than address the issue of human rights violations in its entirety and without any discrimination, this lot is only perturbed by incidents in which security forces and law enforcement agencies are believed to be the alleged perpetrators.
What exactly motivates these activists who wax eloquent on their unconditional commitment in ensuring human rights for all, to ‘kill’ their conscience and brazenly adopt a subjective approach on human rights related issues has never been revealed. However, since the same is patently evident from the prejudiced focus of their campaign, the strange behaviour of such human rights activists no longer arouses any curiosity.
A few examples that expose how human rights activists, through their stoic silence, endorse the rampant violence being committed by terrorists are enumerated below.
In a video released in June 2016, Hizbul Mujahideen [HM] commander Burhan Wani can be heard confessing- “As you know, we have carried out attacks since the last month in which we targeted many policemen and army men… we had warned them [policemen] last year as well to not take any action against us, but they did not pay heed to it and continued to act against us and harassed our youth. Now, there will be no warning to anyone and every uniformed man will be attacked.”
While Wani tried to justify killing of policemen by accusing them of being involved in anti-terrorist operations, the fact is that an overwhelming majority of those killed by terrorists were unarmed policemen performing traffic control or law and order related duties. Yet, its apparent that the self-professed human rights champions were unmoved by these gruesome killings of unarmed policemen as not a word of condemnation came from them.
A year later, Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, a 22-year-old Kashmiri officer who had come home on leave and was attending a relative’s marriage in Shopian district of J&K was abducted by armed terrorists and shot dead by them. Fayaz was not involved in anti-terrorist operation in J&K and nor was he armed when abducted. He was killed only because he was serving in army- a reason that can’t be justified by even the most perverse argument. Once again, the otherwise extremely vocal human rights activists exposed their motivated agenda by maintaining a stoic silence on this gruesome killing.
Just a month later, Mohammed Ayub Pandith a 57-year-old police officer working in the security wing of J&K police was lynched by a mob outside Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid and this macabre killing took place while Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was leading congregational prayers inside the mosque. What’s even more heart rending is that this incident occurred on the auspicious occasion of ‘Laylat al Qadr’ [Night of Power], which commemorates the night when the Holy Quran is believed to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
While the human rights activists expectedly chose to look the other way, Mirwaiz Farooq’s failure to condemn this brutal killing outside Kashmir’s most revered mosque, or just offer mere condolences, exposes how fear of retribution by terrorists can silence even amongst the most influential. This killing revives bitter memories of the 1998 ‘Laylat al Qadr’ as it was on this very night when 26 defenceless members of the minority Kashmiri Pandit community were massacred by terrorists in Wandhama-Ganderbal!
The most shameful thing here isn’t the silence of human rights activists but the effort of some amongst them to give terrorists a clean-chit by accusing security forces of orchestrating this carnage! Many separatist leaders in J&K like Mirwaiz Maulvi Mohammad Farooq, Prof. Abdul Ahmad Wani and Abdul Ghani Lone were killed by ‘unidentified gunmen’ in J&K and many human rights activists blindly endorsed the terrorists’ false accusation that this was the handiwork of security forces and intelligence agencies. However, in 2010, senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Bhat revealed that “Lone sahib, Mirwaiz Farooq and Prof. Wani were not killed by the army or the police. They were targeted by our own people.”
The list of cold-blooded murders of innocents by terrorists in J&K is humungous. Unfortunately, while human rights activists don’t even consider these gruesome incidents worthy of condemnation, the establishment itself doesn’t highlight such blatant violations of human rights with the requisite vigour in international forums. Mentioned below are some heart wrenching incidents which have largely gone unnoticed:
- In August 2018, terrorists abducted a young boy named Arif Sofi. His body was found the next day, badly battered due to torture and with multiple gunshot wounds. At his funeral, Arif’s distraught father dared terrorists to provide evidence of his son being an informer and even though four years have since gone by, terrorists haven’t yet done so till date!
- In the same month, HM terrorists barged into the house of a middle-aged lady named Shamima Bano and shot her dead. A few days later HM commander Riyaz Naikoo justified this killing by accusing Bano of being an informer and boasted of how she was eliminated “despite the fact that [security] forces would lay ambush outside her house so that militants [terrorists] should not kill her.”
- In November 2018, HM released a graphic video of a local youth named Nadeem Manzoor being pumped with bullets, and in an audio message, HM commander Riyaz Naikoo justified this gruesome killing by claiming that the victim was working for security forces as an informer.
- In January 2019, a 10 second video was posted on social media in which a 22-year-old woman named Ishrat Muneer Bhat who could be seen begging for mercy being repeatedly shot on suspicions of being an informer.
Fast forward to the present and one finds that terrorists continue to exhibit scant regards for the lives of their Kashmiri brothers and sisters. On Sunday, a grenade hurled by terrorists in the crowded Amira Kadal-Hari Singh High Street market of Srinagar killed 2 civilians and injured 34 others. The deceased included a septuagenarian named Muhammad Aslam Makhdoomi, and Rafiya Nazir, a girl just 19 years old. No human rights organisation or activist has yet condemned this tragedy that extinguished two lives and left dozens injured.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference, which claims to be the “true representative” of Kashmiris and gives shutdown calls at the drop of the hat, failed to do so in this case, which given the fact was initiated by terrorists, isn’t the least surprising. Nor has the self-anointed Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, which otherwise sheds copious tears on the so-called excesses by government and security forces in Kashmir, care to even carry out a token candle march to express grief on the loss of two innocent lives and condemn these senseless killings.
Killing Kashmiris on mere suspicion of being informers or using them as ‘human shields’ while attacking security forces in crowded places indicates two things- one, the so called ‘freedom fighters’ are using summary executions as a tool to terrorise locals into submission; two, terrorists have no qualms about endangering lives of fellow Kashmiris. So, as none to oppose, condemn or even question wanton acts of violence being perpetrated by terrorists that are consuming innocent lives in J&K, and with a set of influential but highly subjective human rights activists defending this abhorrent cult of unbridled violence, it’s but natural that this repugnant trend will only gain more strength with the passage of time!