Jammu and Kashmir always finds a reason to crop up in the news.
On 9th April 2017, Major Leetul Gogoi from the Punjab regiment came attracted ire from political parties and human rights activists in the country. A video showing a Kashmiri civilian tied to the bonnet of an army jeep went viral causing outrage against Maj Gogoi. The civilian, Farooq Ahmad Dar was used as a ‘human-shield’ against the stone-pelters in Kashmir. Several protests were held across the nation against Gogoi, but instead of taking any strict action, Army Chief Bipin Rawat awarded him for his efforts in countering insurgency. Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Commission later awarded Rs. 10 Lakh to Farooq Dar as a compensation for his ordeal. But his story didn’t end there.
After the incident, Dar was reportedly suffering from insomnia and depression. Boycotted by villagers branding him a government agent and unable to find a job, even as a manual labourer, he said his life was upended. The army claimed that Dar was a stonepelter, and that their actions were directed to stop Dar. However, investigations by the local police backed Mr. Dar’s account of events of the day. It was found that he was on his way to his sister’s place after voting when the Army picked him up and beat him mercilessly before tying him with ropes and dragging him through nearly 28 villages. After recovery, Farooq went on to protest against the use of ‘human shield’ and demanded the arrest of Major Gogoi.
A year later, on Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, the J&K police detained Major Gogoi from a hotel in Srinagar. Chief Rawat has publicly stated that strict action would be taken against Gogoi if he were found guilty. Investigations and procedures by the army are underway. We will know more about the incident in the days to come. But while we wait for that, here are some other reasons why Kashmir was in the news in 2017.
27th February 2017: Modified pellet guns
In February 2017, the CRPF introduced deflectors as a modification for its pellet guns to make the guns less lethal after mounting pressure from human rights organizations. Amnesty International India called for a ban last year on pellet guns after a death of a civilian. The days following Hizbul militant Burhan Wani’s death, CRPF drew criticism for using pellet guns for protestors, which caused injuries to hundreds of civilians.
29th March 2017: 3 civilians killed in a gun battle
3 civilians were killed and at least 28 others were injured including the army personnel and police, during an operation in Chadoora of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district. The gun battle started after police and soldiers shut off the Southern town of Chadoora, following the tip of militants hiding in a house. Shortly, after the encounter, people mostly youth from adjoining areas started marching towards encounter site to disrupt the operation and help militants escape the spot.
9th April 2017: Farooq Abdullah won Lok Sabha seat
A by-election for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat held on 9th April. The separatists called for a boycott of the election and violence broke leading to 8 civilian deaths and over 170 injuries. The voter turnout was recorded to be 7%, which is lowest ever in the past 3 decades. National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah won the seat defeating his PDP rival. This is the third term as a Lok Sabha member for Abdullah, whose triumph has been seen as a major setback for the ruling PDP.
9th April 2017: Army Major criticized for using ‘Human- Shield’
A video showing a man tied to an army jeep went viral caused much outrage against the military officer Major Leetul Gogoi for practicing ‘human-shield’ against the stone-pelters in Kashmir. Protests from human rights groups and criticism from most political parties after the video went viral, however, later the major was awarded by army chief Bipin Rawat for his efforts in counter insurgency. The human right commission directed the state to compensate with Rs. 10 Lakh to Farooq Dar who was identified as a human- shield.
27th May 2017: Burhan Wani’s former aide killed in an encounter
After top militant Burhan Wani’s killing in July last year, clashes were triggered in the Kashmir valley following the killing of Sabzar Ahmad Bhat of the Hizbul Mujahideen who was formerly an aide of Wani. On the previous day, Bhat and his associates had a fierce gun battle with the government forces according to the army. He was said to have been the operational chief of Hizbul.
23rd June 2017: Mob lynching of DySP Mohammed Ayub Pandith
Indian Kashmiri Muslim security official Mohammed Ayub Pandith was beaten to death by a mob near Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta Area, on the holy night of Shab-e-Qadr on which the Muslims believe that their sins would be forgiven. The incident took place after he allegedly opened fire at a group of people who caught him clicking pictures near a mosque.
26th June 2017: US declared Syed Salahuddin as a ‘Global Terorrist’
The US declared Syed Salahuddin a “global terrorist” just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first meeting with President Donald Trump on 26 June in Washington. The US took this step as Salahuddin pledged to block any peaceful resolution to the Kashmir and threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers with turning the Kashmir valley into a graveyard of Indian army. This was protested by a number of demonstrators in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
5th July 2017: Jammu & Kashmir adopted the implementation of GST
The state assembly adopted a resolution to implement the goods and services tax ( GST ) amid protests by National Conference and Congress. After 2 day discussions, the resolution was adopted by a voice vote as the state parties protested against the new indirect tax regime in the state in its present form. The state Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu stated that the business activity of the state dropped almost by half due to delay in the implementation of GST as compared to the other states.
11th July 2017: Amarnath Attack
7 were killed and around 32 were injured when an Amarnath Pilgrimage bus was caught in the open fire by terrorists on Srinagar and Jammu highway. It was said to be carried out by the Lashkar – e- Taiba and was masterminded by Pakistani terrorist Ismail. The bus that was fired on was registered in Gujarat. The government officials condemned the attack and compensation was given to the affected.