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Troops not involved in Kashmir fake encounters: India

New Delhi March 07, 2007 (Kashmir Newz Desk) :

There is nothing to suggest the involvement of armed forces in fake encounter killings in Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Defence Minister A K Antony infomed the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian bi-cameral parliament today.

Referring to the recent expose of fake encounter killings in Jammu and Kashmir, Antony said six cases of alleged fake encounters have been reported, of which five pertain to the year 2006 and one to the year 2007.

“A Special investigation team has been constituted by the Government of J&K to look into the allegations. A judicial probe has also been announced,” Antony said.

Seven policemen belonging to the Special Operations Group- a dreaded counter insurgent unit of Jammu and Kashmir Police- were charged with abduction and murder of civilians in set up encounters after the expose. These include the S P Ganderbal, Hans Raj Bahadur, and his deputy Ram Bahadur.

Allegations of extra judicial killings and human rights violations by Indian troops and police in Jammu and Kashmir have been rampant since the outbreak of anti India insurgency in the region in 1989.

In 2006 US based watchdog, Human Rights Watch, said ‘impunity’ enjoyed by Indian troops and officials, ‘fuels the conflict in Kashmir’.

The State Human Rights Commission, a state body formed to look into the allegations of human rights violations has often cited non cooperation of armed forces as a hurdle to fair investigations into allegations of HR violations.

Troops stationed in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast states in India enjoy special powers under the ‘Armed Forces Special Powers Act’ (AFSPA). Human rights groups term the laws ‘draconian’.

The People Democratic Party, a ruling coalition partner in Jammu and Kashmir is calling for the abrogation of AFSPA and reduction in troops. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said this week that there were no plans of troop cut in the region.

“Security forces dealing with terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir have been given explicit directions to honour human rights during discharge of duties. Every reported case of alleged human rights violation is investigated promptly and stringent punishment awarded to those found guilty.” Antony told the Rajya Sabha today.

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