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India Administered Kashmir: Shopian Cover Up - Investigating agencies stand exposed

by Kashmir Times, 11 December 2009

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Kashmir Times, 12 December 2009

EDITORIAL:

The preliminary report released on Human Rights Day by the Independent Women’s Initiative for Justice, titled ’Shopian: Manufacturing a Suitable Story’ has not only blasted the investigating agencies for a deliberate cover up, they have rather pointed out that this ’hushing up’ conspiracy is part of a larger political agenda to suit the interests of a so-called peace process in which people of Kashmir have largely remained excluded. The report argues, on basis of scientific logic, that any accidental death of the two women alleged to have been raped and murdered six months ago is impossible. It talks about the visible marks of injuries on the body of Asiya and initial post mortem reports, all of which cannot be dismissed as cases of fudging. The report challenges the ’pre-meditated’ drowning theory that was being floated from the day one and is now being circulated by the CBI selectively through media, on the basis of location, level of water and its flow in the nallah in which the two women are being made out to have drowned. The report also questions the deliberate tampering of evidence by the police men and maintains that the failure, rather denial of the CBI, to even question and interrogate the guilty police officers, points to the CBI’s bid to save the skin of the men in uniform. The women’s team during a press conference while releasing its preliminary report also reminded about the remarks of the chief justice of the State High Court regarding the accused cops: that either they were themselves the culprits or they knew who had committed the crime. The finger of suspicion all along has been on the men in uniform. Given the heavy concentration of the security forces in the area where the bodies of the women were found further lends credence to the theory. The deliberate tampering of evidence by police further confirms the doubts. Obviously, such an act was aimed to shield men in uniform and not common civilians. Every effort to sabotage investigations was meticulously planned. This is common knowledge in Kashmir.

The women team’s report has only gone a step further and hit the nail on the head, stating that all this conspiracy was not only aimed to save the skin of some men in uniform but was a part of a larger political agenda to protect the image of the security forces amidst a peace offensive that was on the anvil when the Shopian incident happened. The report has also pointed out that while the Centre felt it necessary to ensure that the interests of the security forces and their authority was not harmed in any way, all out efforts were made to hush up the case also because of the strategic location of Shopian which becomes a gateway to Kashmir if the Mughal Road is to be opened in another year or so from now. This strategic location of the town makes it imperative for the security forces to carve out a greater role for themselves in the area which would be objected to by the people on the basis of the findings of the Shopian investigations. This makes perfect sense, as does the handing over of the case to the CBI to bail out the state government which was forced to take up all the responsibility of Centre’s agenda of hushing up the case. The state government was only too eager to hand over the case to the CBI to get its neck out of the mess and evade all the blame. It becomes more and more lucidly clear why there has been a conspiracy to hush up the Shopian rapes and murders, though unsuccessfully for the last six months. But such knowledge, however, does not ensure that justice would be delivered. That can happen only when the Centre wakes up to the situation and realises that everything cannot be achieved by might. In the face of democratic and peaceful campaigns for justice, it would be in the best of interests of all to simply bow down and do the needful of nailing the culprits in this case. This would also serve the interests of the peace process as it would ensure inclusion of a larger section of society in Kashmir and not simply a handful of separatist leaders.