Brutes in uniform

Kashmir Times. Dated: 8/7/2018 12:07:33 AM

Many loop-holes in CRPF's official narrative on killing inside Farooq Abdullah's Jammu residence necessitate time-bound and fair probe

The shocking killing of a man inside Farooq Abdullah's Jammu residence by CRPF security personnel deployed there is yet another indicator of the adverse impact of a militarised mindset, perpetuated by successive governments. Underplaying the impact of militarization in this state has ended up giving absolute and unquestionable liberty to security forces to operate according to their whims even in areas where there is no particular history of militancy. The shocking impact of the cold blooded murder is further enhanced by the brazen manner in which it is being justified by the CRPF by propping up an unjustifiable and bizarre terror angle, revealing the extent to which an existing pattern of impunity provided by laws like AFSPA can be extended. The incident and the exact circumstances that led to the killing are still mired in mystery but the CRPF explanation of terror attack is simply not plausible and is completely out of sync with some of the circumstances that have emerged in the public domain. The official CRPF version of the story is replete with loopholes; and police's contradictory contention that this does not appear to be a terror attack further deflates the former's theory. The VIP residence is located in Bhatindi area and is a highly fortified premises with an over 10 feet long gate that cannot be easily scaled at any time of the day, leave alone broad daylight when this incident took place. If somebody did manage to do that, it is simply an indicator of a major security lapse.
According to the CRPF version of the incident, the man not only banged into the gate, broke it open but also entered the lobby of the main house. This appears too preposterous. Images clearly show neither any damage to the bumper of the SUV, that is said to have been driven by the slain victim, nor to the gate of the VIP residence of the National Conference leader. Besides, there is no history of militancy related fidayeen attacks to have taken place with the use of expensive SUVs. There is also no indication of any signs of militancy in the area where the incident took place or of any links of the slain person with any militant groups. According to eye-witnesses and some family members, the slain man was a former arms dealer and was involved in some dispute with one or some of the CRPF personnel over some payment issues. The CRPF official version thus does not only sound bizarre but also creates unnecessary panic in Jammu already reeling under the threat of communal polarization. It is important to clear the cobwebs in the story. The Governor's administration has done well to order a probe but the investigation needs to be guided by a sense of immediacy and must reach a logical conclusion which should be brought to the public domain in totality without allowing it to follow the past tradition of remaining hidden on the shelves of the government departments. If this angle of the story is indeed true, it signals a dangerous trend. Why should security personnel be involved in a private arms deal? Is there a deeper rot behind the story? Even if fair investigations lead to some uncomfortable truths, they must be unearthed. But even otherwise, the case that visibly appears to be one of an unavoidable murder, necessitates justice. Men in uniform cannot be allowed to become a law unto themselves and resort to brutality of the worst kinds. Truth must prevail and the brutes in uniform must be reined in to ensure a more disciplined and accountable force. The protectors cannot be allowed to become perpetrators.



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