Distt level SITs to probe Kashmir unrest deaths; PSA cases to be reviewed, ex-gratia package announced

TNN Bureau. Updated: 1/10/2017 1:19:08 AM

JAMMU: Special Investigation Teams (SITs) will be set up for time-bound probe into deaths that took place during the unrest in Kashmir Valley last summer, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti announced today.
The state government will also resume the process of reviewing the cases of those held under the Public Safety Act (PSA), she told the Legislative Assembly here.
"I want to tell you, we will constitute Special Investigation Teams (SIT) at district-level which will have to give time-bound reports. And if there is a need for anything further, we will go ahead," Mehbooba said while responding to opposition demand for a judicial probe into the deaths during mob control by security personnel during the 5-month unrest.
She was replying to a discussion on the Kashmir situation under Adjournment Motion moved by the opposition members.
The state government had earlier told the Assembly that 76 civilians, besides two policemen, were killed during the unrest that erupted after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on July 8 last year.
2,690 cases had been registered in connection with stone pelting incidents, 16 cases in weapon looting and snatching in Kashmir and 463 people had been detained under the PSA, the government had said.
The Chief Minister said six people had lost vision in their both eyes whereas 20 others were left with a damaged eye during the unrest. Over 100 people had an eye injury.
"Over 4,500 personnel of police and security forces were also injured while safeguarding the life and property of the people," Mehbooba said.
With regard to demand for rehabilitation of families of those who lost their lives, she said, "They are our own children and we have to ensure their rehabilitation. We have kept an amount of Rs five lakh ex-gratia as compensation for the next of the kins in case of deaths.
"In any such extreme case, the government is committed to provide jobs to the next of the kins to these families and the children who have lost their eye sights, our government is ready to provide jobs to their family members."
Those having permanent disability will get Rs 75,000.
Mehbooba said, "I was told in New Delhi, including by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, that the government will ensure free education to them (who lost support system) in top schools on the pattern of Doon school so that they can stand on their feet and need not depend on anybody."
She appealed to the Opposition to help her "heal" the wounds of the people. Mehbooba rejected any comparison of last year's unrest with the trouble witnessed in 2010, when the state was being ruled by Omar Abdullah-led National Conference-Congress government.
"There is huge difference between that time (2010) and this time (2016). At that time, children used to go to the shops to get their eatables and food items even for toffees because shops were opened. But this time (2016), if anyone dared to open any shop in entire Kashmir valley, his shop was subjected to damage. Nobody was allowed to open shops," she said.
Mehbooba said there was an "atmosphere, in which on one side there was imposition of curfew, on other side there was shutdown and on the third side there was call of assemblies ('chalo' call).... Children used to come out and they were being forced to be part of rally. ... Who was happy that these things should happen?"
She said there were "elements with well thought out plan to do this (unrest). It did not happen due to raking up of Kashmiri Pandit township issue, followed by Sainik Colony issues and ultimately they got the trigger of Burhan Wani's killing and those elements used their all infrastructure to what happened."
Recalling the events leading to the unrest, the CM said she had asked the security agencies to take caution after she was told about Burhan's killing in an encounter.
"When I got the phone call that Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter, I asked the police and security agencies to exercise caution that it was expected that people would come out to attend the funeral. I asked them to impose curfew. If someone is to be hanged, it is told in advance and security apparatus can be put in place but when this encounter took place, the security forces were busy in managing Amarnath yatra," she said.
"People came out from places where it was unexpected.
Over 50 police and security camps were damaged and 215 such incidents took place. I asked for restraint but there were certain elements who pushed the children inside and then themselves escaped and small children became the target," she said.
Answering opposition charge that they were not taken on board during the unrest, the Chief Minister said she had tried to reach to National Conference leader Omar Abdullah by calling him but was told that "he would call her back. And I waited but the call never came."
She said she had also called up Omar's father Farooq Abdullah when he returned from London after his treatment and "again I was told that he will call me back but again no call came."
Apparently referring to the 2010 unrest, she said, "Omar was fortunate as his father was there to defend him to say that my son is there in Kashmir fighting the Pakistan for India."

‘Waited for Omar but he
never reverted my call’

JAMMU: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today countered the charge that the opposition was not taken on board during last year's unrest, saying she had tried to contact National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah but failed.
She said in the Legislative Assembly that she had called Omar but was told that "he would call her back. And I waited but the call never came.
"I also called Farooq (Abdullah) sahab when he returned from London after his treatment and again I was told that he will call me back but again no call came."
Mehbooba was counter the charge by Omar, her predecesor, that he was not taken on board during the unrest.
Apparently referring to the 2010 unrest that took place during NC-Congress rule, she said Omar was fortunate as his father was there to defend him to say that 'my son is there in Kashmir fighting the Pakistan for India'.
The Chief Minister, whose resignation was demanded by the National Conference for adopting a "casual" approach and taking "wrong steps" to control the situation during the unrest, said after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Buhran Wani in an encounter, she had asked the police and security officials to take caution and impose curfew.
"When I got the phone call that Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter, I asked the police and security agencies to exercise caution that it was expected that people would come out to attend the funeral. I asked them to impose curfew. If someone is to be hanged, it is told in advance and security apparatus can be put in place but when this encounter took place, the security forces were busy in managing Amarnath yatra," she said.
"People came out from places where it was unexpected.
Over 50 police and security camps were damaged and 215 such incidents took place. I asked for restraint but there were certain elements who pushed the children inside and then themselves escaped and small children became the target," she said.
She said six people lost vision in their both eyes whereas 20 others were left with a damaged eye during the unrest while there were over 100 people who had an eye injury.
"Over 4,500 personnel of police and security forces were also injured while safeguarding the life and property of the people," she said.
With regard to rehabilitation of families of those who lost their lives, the Chief Minister said, "We don't compare 2010 unrest and 2016 unrest. We should not do it. This is no excuse that anyone loses his life and for which (to ensure public safety) we have been given mandate by the people.
People do not want any such thing to happen.
"I strongly feel that the situation (last year) was not sudden and (had been) going on for several years. My request is that be it 2010 or 2016, it should not have happened, either in your time or ours.
Help us to heal the wounds of the people and to bring them out of this," she said, reaching out to the opposition.

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