Why no compensation for Amarnath Yatris ?


JAMMU: Will the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) of Jammu & Kashmir, which ordered a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to Farooq Ahmed Dar for being tied by an Army officer on April 9 to the bonnet of a jeep, now take cognisance of the deaths of seven Amarnath yatris on July 10 in a terrorist attack?

“I have no doubt in my mind that Farooq Ahmad was subjected to torture and humiliation, besides (being) wrongly confined,” the judgement issued by SHRC chairperson Justice (retired) Bilal Nazki said.

The compensation awarded to Dar was for the “humiliation, physical and psychiatric torture, stress, wrongful restraint and confi nement” that he underwent when he was tied to the bonnet of an army vehicle to ward off stone-pelters, SHRC observed in its judgement.

“For the humiliation, physical and psychiatric torture, stress, wrongful restraint and confinement, the commission thinks it appropriate to direct the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim,” the SHRC said.

Incidentally, the SHRC was reported to have taken suo motu cognisance of the incident. A human rights activist had also filed a report with it.

The same day, in the evening, terrorists attacked a bus registered in Gujarat in Anantnag district carrying passengers returning after visiting holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath. By late evening, six yatris had died and another 14 were reported injured, at least two of them seriously.

This time, however, there was a deafening silence from the SHRC headed by Justice (retired) Nazki as it issued no statement till late on Tuesday (July 11) afternoon. Justice (retired) Nazki did not take any suo motu cognisance of the killings or grave injuries sustained by the yatries. The “humiliation” of a common Kashmiri moved Justice (retired) Nazki to use his powers to award a compensation of Rs 10 lakh.

This clearly demonstrates the sensitivity of Justice (retired) Nazki towards “human rights’’ and his coming down heavily against any alleged violations. After all, he is the officially designated custodian of “human rights’’ in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

The SHRC of Jammu & Kashmir needs to be asked some questions here. Uncomfortable questions that it needs to find answers for. Of course, if it has any answers to them. Do Hindu pilgrims visiting Amarnath cave shrine have any human rights which SHRC recognises? At least its silence so far suggests that the yatris have no human rights, not such which SHRC finds worth taking cognisance of.

Does yatris being shot with bullet or bullets constitute “physical and psychiatric torture’’ for the SHRC? What are the human rights of Hindu yatris undertaking the pilgrimage?

Does getting killed, which happened in the case of at six yatris initially, amount to any human rights violations? Does getting injured, or getting seriously injured, amount to violations of human rights of the yatris?

How are human rights defi ned in Jammu & Kashmir and who gives their defi nition? One of the major factors for the SHRC in deciding the compensation was the possible lifelong effect on Dar.

Well, the effect of being shot with bullets can be safely assumed to be no less than what Dar apparently went through, according to SHRC. One can hardly believe that SHRC will argue that life being extinguished is a lesser trauma than being tied to a jeep. Or even that survivors of the shooting spree of the terrorists in Anantnag went through a less traumatic experience than that suffered by Dar.

What is the quantum of compensation the government of Jammu & Kashmir should then pay to the next of kin (NOK) of those killed? Or those injured? According to the SHRC, what should be the quantum of compensation to be paid by the state government?

The SHRC had not uttered a word, not that it publicised through any press release, when DySP Mohd Ayub Pandit was lynched outside a mosque in Srinagar some days ago. It had not said anything when a police party, led by an SHO, was annihilated in Anantnag. It had not said anything when a young Army officer, on leave and unarmed, was killed in cold blood by terrorists. In fact, one does not remember a word being spoken by it when five policemen escorting a bank cash van were waylaid and seven persons were shot dead.

Is there deeper politics behind the proactive approach and award of a Rs10 lakh compensation in
one case?

What message does the SHRC want to send? To people in Kashmir. To those outside. Some questions, uncomfortable though, which perhaps need to be asked.

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