Delhi Police versus Kashmir Police
Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has ordered an inquiry into the arrest by Delhi Police of Syed Liyaqat Shah a former militant from Lalpura, Kupwara who has returned to avail the benefits of the rehabilitation scheme announced by the chief minister. The action taken by Delhi police and its version in regard to this arrest is disputed by the J & K Police and the family of the former militant.
Institutions in India, in particular the Police seem to fail the citizens of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. There is a general and ever growing mistrust in any such arrest conducted by police in Delhi or in any other part of India. Loss of credibility by these law enforcement agencies is a serious matter. It could not be left to a no holds barred principle for the police. Therefore, Delhi has to make up its mind in regard to its national and international obligations in dealing with citizens of J & K in various parts of India and in Kashmir.
Even if there were no rehabilitation scheme announced by the chief minister, Syed Liyaqat Shah, under article 4 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution has not been in any foreign country but has been living within the territories of the state defined in article 4 of J & K Constitution. The Union of India has entered into a bilateral agreement with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to ‘defend the territory’ defined in article 4 of the Constitution. Indian Government under item 14 (a) and (b) of UN Security Council Resolution 47 (1948) of 21 April 1948 has submitted itself to an international commitment that “All citizens of the State who have left it on account of disturbances are invited, and are free, to return to their homes and to exercise their right as such citizens”, and that “There is no victimization”. The present unrest from 1990 is also covered under this resolution.
Under the bilateral responsibilities, the union of India has to protect the rights of Syed Liyaqat Shah even while he lived in any part of Kashmir administered by the Government of Pakistan. It is now clear that the family had been processing his return under the chief minister’s rehabilitation scheme and Shah was due to surrender before the J & K Police as agreed between the parties. The arrest by Delhi Police has been flagged in the J & K assembly. J & K chief minister and the state home minister seem to be involved in the matter. J & K Police has also disputed the Delhi Police version and has demanded that the returnee be handed over to them.
The claim by Delhi Police that Shah had a plan to carry a suicide attack in Delhi to avenge Afzal Guru’s hanging is ridiculous. We were angry at our Kashmiri politicians who seemed out to make something out of Gurus death after failing him during his legal battle, that here we have Delhi police out to make a profit out of it as well. Delhi police should have known that the tenure of using Kashmiris as proxies in Kashmir by both India and Pakistan came to an end during Musharraf’s regime in 2006.
Musharraf’s dictate in point 2 of his four point formula to Kashmiri leaders and militants, stating “curb all militant aspects of the struggle for freedom”, tells it all to everyone who claims to be a ‘true and genuine representative” of the people in Kashmir (in fact Valley). Therefore, to find any vestiges of being an ‘Albadar’ militant in Shah by Delhi police is just like looking a needle in a hay stack stock.
Amina his wife has said it all that Liyaqat was running a provisional store in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK). She has further made it clear that some ten days back, policemen visited their home and informed them about the return of her husband. “On Tuesday, I received a call from Shah from Pakistan. He told me that he was returning home. But after that I had no contact with him and learnt from media about his arrest in Delhi”.
One may wish to give Delhi police a benefit of doubt in making an error in good faith. But what would irritate and anger every State Subject in any part of Jammu and Kashmir and abroad, is the irresponsible and happy go lucky kind of statement made by Minister of State (MoS) for Home Sajjad Kitchloo. He told reporters outside the Assembly hall, \”We have taken up the issue with the Delhi police through an officer of SP rank, who has been stationed in national capital. We are verifying the facts leading to his arrest,\” and “if he (Shah) is innocent, J&K government would seek his release from Delhi police custody.”
Minister of State for Home, is under oath that “he will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”. He should have known that Shah’s wife Amina had filed papers of his return under rehabilitation policy two years back in 2011 at the office of SP Kupwara. It had
taken her four days to complete the process and all police and intelligence verification had been completed. The return of Liyaqat was known to the authorities including the local army formation.
Rather than defending the right of Syed Liyaqat Shah to return in safety and in dignity, defending his rights in accordance with article 4 of the J & K Constitution and more under the provisions of the bilateral agreement with the union of India, Kashmiri Minister of State for Home, brought into debate the question of Shah’s innocence. It could not be regarded the statement of a well-informed member of J & K cabinet and a public representative. It seemed as if the minister was part of an investigation process, in particular of Delhi Police force, which was challenged by the J & K Police and members of the Shah’s family.
Liyaqat came to surrender before the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir after the application of his family for his rehabilitation under the state government’s policy was approved by authorities. It is unfortunate to have a minister in the cabinet who did not have handle on his subject. His statement, “It is being said that he was returning home under the rehabilitation policy. Perhaps the route fixed was different from what we had notified under the policy,” speaks of a cabinet member’s utter incompetence.
We know that The Jammu and Kashmir government has entered into an unwritten understanding with the Union Home Ministry that any youth who had joined militant ranks in 1990s and wishing to return via Nepal would be allowed to do it provided he surrenders before army or police in the Valley. These youth are State Subjects and a majority have been living in the territories on the other side of LoC, duly defined in article 4 of J & K Constitution. The Constitution and the provisions of accession provide these youth a protection to choose a place of their domicile within these territories.
It is not unlawful for a Kashmiri to be living in any of the three administrations run by the three Kashmiri Governments or in any part of the world. And the burden of responsibility of India and Pakistan is raised, if any of these Kashmiris for one or the other reason have to live in these countries.
It is high time that J & K Government and New Delhi revisit the ‘rehabilitation policy’ and relax it in respect of the entry points for the returning youth who have crossed the LoC. This Line of Control has no legal bar for a Kashmiri State Subject and these youth should be allowed to enter from a point that is in proximity to their place of residence across the LoC. The return is subject to an application by the family and a due process of police investigation. It ends into a surrender before the J & K Police. Therefore, making the return subject of a fixed route does not have any merit.
Delhi needs to make up its mind, in regard to its duties and obligations in Jammu and Kashmir. Promotion of the welfare of the people has no substitute.
Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. He could be reached on email email@example.com