ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Understanding Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir

The report Alleged Perpetrators: Stories of Impunity in J&K prepared by the International People's Tribunal on Human Righs and Justice and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons hinges on the concept of individual criminal responsibility while naming the alleged perpetrators of serious human rights violations. The prevailing impunity in Kashmir points to the complete lack of political will to reverse this state of affairs and resolve the political conflict.

The author is grateful to Muzamil Jaleel for providing comments on various drafts of this review.

While Kashmir was shut down by a strict curfew with a total ­information blockade after the secretive hanging of Afzal Guru in Tihar, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government introduced the Jammu and Kashmir Draft Police Bill, 2013, ostensibly for a public debate. There is no doubt that the intentions of the government were mala fide: The bill was put up for public feedback for a period of 15 days amid curfew only to fulfil a formality. The introduction of this bill exposed the hollowness of the J&K government’s public posturing on Afzal ­Guru’s secretive hanging and the hypo­crisy behind its public demand for revocation of draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA). But at a larger level, this bill yet again underlined that the Indian government’s policy on Kashmir is to deny the right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir by any and all available means, of which impunity for the army and the police, as also, for the country’s civilian leadership, is at the core.

While the army and paramilitary come under the AFSPA immunity cover, this draft law makes it clear that the government wants to arm the police with draconian powers and provide legal protection for their actions. Though the police has already been enjoying de facto immunity for its actions, this draft bill is aimed to make it de jure and thus institutionalise the impunity project.

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