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OPINION

Forgotten probes

It's all a show to bail out the guilty
Zahir-ud-Din
Srinagar | Posted : Dec 23 2016 1:03AM | Updated: Dec 22 2016 8:54PM
Forgotten probes
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Hundreds of probes were ordered in various incidents during the past twenty-six years. However, only a few probes were taken to logical end. In most of the cases, the findings were never made public.

A former secretary of the Bar Association once said that the probes are ordered to quell public anger and to bail out the perpetrators.

He is right.

The authorities know that the people have a short memory and in this neglected land priorities change every day. A particular incident that evokes massive protests today becomes less important tomorrow and with the passage of time people forget it.                                 

This, however, is not a new phenomenon.  The government of India has been pursuing the policy from the very beginning.

The theft of holy relic  from Hazratbal shrine on December 27, 1963 caused a stir in the entire sub-continent.  Some arrests were effected, an intelligence officer was rushed from New Delhi, the relic was recovered and identified but the culprits were never brought to justice. 

The news of the theft spread like wild fire. People came out on the streets to register protest. A group of people marched in the historic Lal Chowk. On seeing a crowd, the then general secretary of National Conference, Rashid Bakshi, who also happened to be the brother of Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad, appeared on the scene. He wanted to address the people. But the angry people hooted and threw kangries (Fire pots which Kashmiris carry with them to keep themselves warm) on him. They also set ablaze his Jeep. He had to run away for his life.

Noted historian, Shabnam Qayoom sees Bakshi Rashid’s had in the theft. According to him, Nehru’s Kamraj Plan saw the end of Bakshi regime. “A less known person Shamas-ud-Din was installed as Prime Minister of the state. Bakshi Rashid who was active and well known in National Conference felt insulted and vowed to avenge the humiliation.”

Qayoom further says: “The holy relic was recovered when Bakshi Rashid led the investigating team to a house boat at Miskeen Bagh. Bakshi Rashid was hand cuffed. During interrogation he said he had stolen the relic on the directions of Pandit Nehru.” This perhaps is the reason behind concealing the names of the culprits   

People from all walks of life came together and formed an action committee for recovery of the holy relic. For the first time Kashmiris rose above petty considerations, forged unity and fought unitedly. 

A few persons were arrested.  An agricultural assistant identified as Abdul Rashid of Tral after hearing about the theft went to Hazratbal shrine where he was taken into custody.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          On January 30, 1964 Lal Bahadur Shastri came to Srinagar and met a number of persons including Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad, Moulana Farooq and Sheikh Farooq. On February 3, Moulana Masoodi, Moulana Farooq, Syed Meerak Shah were taken to Hazratbal. Noor-ud-Din Banday came out with a box from the shrine. The relic was identified. Veteran journalist, Late Sonaullah Bhat has questioned the mode of identification in his book Kashmir: 47 to 77.    

Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru  lost all hope. According to him Kashmir had been lost. When his intelligence officer, BN Mullick phoned him about the recovery of the relic, he said: “You have saved Kashmir for India.” The intelligence officer says in his book My days with Nehru: “It was an intelligence operation never to be made public.”

On February 12, the then Home Minister, Gulzari Lal Nanda said on the floor of the parliament that the investigation would take a week to complete. “The culprits shall be identified and brought to justice.” The outcome of the investigation has not been made public to this day.

On February 11, 1975 Peoples League activist, GN Bulla was arrested from Sopore while pasting posters urging the people to make Z A Bhutto’s strike call a success.  Bhutto had called for general strike in Kashmir to protest against the infamous Indra-Abdullah accord.

Bulla’s colleague and distant relative, Ghulam Hassan alias Kranti was also taken into custody. Kranti told the police about  Bulla’s ailment and urged the police officer to give him medicare. His request was ignored and Bulla, an eclipsy patient  suffered a stroke. No medicines were given. Instead he was brutally tortured and later shifted to Central jail. On February 15, he passed away.  

He was buried around midnight at Sopore. Only a few persons from the family were allowed to participate in the funeral.

The death did not go un-noticed. People registered strong protest. A probe was ordered.  The then SDM was directed to complete the probe within a stipulated time. The police, according to Bulla’s relatives restrained people from appearing before the commission. The findings of the commission have not been made public till date.  The family rejected the compensation awarded by the SDM.

And the sordid tale continues to this day.  Authorities continue to order probe and people continue to forget about them.

din.zahir@gmail.com             

 

 

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