Democratic institutions have lost credibility: Yasin Malik

The Kashmir Valley on Friday witnessed a shutdown on a call for protest by senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq against the closure of the Pathribal “fake encounter” case by a court of inquiry of the Army.

Commercial establishments remained closed, traffic was off the road and attendance in private and government offices was thin in Srinagar and other district headquarters and major townships.

Residents of Brari Angan village in Anantnag district staged a demonstration demanding justice to the five civilians killed and labelled as “foreign mercenaries” in an allegedly fake encounter by the police and security forces at Pathribal on March 24, 2000. They called for exemplary punishment to the seven Central Reserve Police Force and Jammu and Kashmir police personnel found responsible for killing eight civilians in “unwarranted firing” at Brakpora on April 3, 2000.

Most of the 13 civilians killed at Pathribal and Brakpora were residents of Brari Angan and Utarsoo and adjoining villages in South Kashmir.

While the CBI has held five Army officers guilty of abducting and killing the five civilians at Pathribal, a police investigation, the S.R. Pandian Commission of Inquiry and two departmental Inquiries in the past 13 years, have established the charges of murder against the seven CRPF and J&K police personnel.

The Army court of inquiry concluded earlier this month that the charges of murder had not been established against the five Army officers. It closed the case and gave a clean chit to all the accused. The Union Home Ministry has denied sanction for prosecution of the four CRPF officials found guilty of the “murder” of eight Brakpora demonstrators. The J&K police have withheld the challan prepared against the three police officials. Consequently, all the 12 personnel are continuing in service.

Reports said the separatist leaders organised demonstrations at Jamia Masjid Nowhatta and Maisuma. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman, Yasin Malik, led a demonstration at Maisuma. Addressing the gathering, Mr. Malik made scathing attacks on “Indian democratic institutions,” saying they had lost credibility after the “fraud” played in the Pathribal case.

The demonstrators clashed with the police at Pulwama in South Kashmir, at Maisuma, Safakadal and Gojwara in Srinagar; and at Baramulla, Sopore and Bandipura in North Kashmir.