While the Mufti-led coalition government has time and again reiterated that it is committed to healing the wounds of the people Ã¢â‚¬â€œ “the healing touch” Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and restoring peace in the turbulent Valley, such claims are debunked when an incident like the brutal custodial killing of a newly wed young man happen. Such incidents also highlight the inefficiency of the government and undermine its claims that the number of extra-judicial killings in the Valley have declined greatly.
Tahir Mushtaq Makhdoomi, 21, student of Part 2 (XII std) who had been married for just a day, was picked up by a local Army unit from his home, in the apple town of Tujjar in Sopore in the dead of night. The family found just a limb of the deceased after searching the nearby jungle. This heart-rending incident evoked great resentment throughout the Valley. Agitated locals blocked the Sopore-Kupwara national-highway, chanted slogans against the Mufti Government and its “healing touch” policy besides demanding an action against the army officer responsible for the killing.. "This inhumane incident speaks volumes of the healing touch policy of Mufti Government. He should step down; he is playing with the sentiments of the people", said an agitated youth.
The brutal killing, which left the whole village shell-shocked, is a mystery. Traumatized parents mourn the unjustified killing of their beloved. The unfortunate, Afrooza, rendered a widow now is a shattered girl. Some believe that the only reason behind the killing of the groom could be because the father of the deceased is associated with Jamat-i-Islami. But then, it is not a banned organization and this link with a political group never justifies the killing. It is pertinent to mention here that, according to the trend set by the security forces in rural Kashmir, the father of the deceased had informed the nearby camp about the marriage ceremony and the expected quota of guests visiting on the occasion.
It is learned that more than 300 vehicles halted by the locals on the Sopore-Kupwara highway for more than 3 hours were allowed to ply only after the Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, reached the spot and promised action against those responsible for the killing. The people from the adjoining areas protested the killing for the second consecutive day. Recently; a forest employee was also killed by the Army in Kupwara.
As the mainstream parties joined the people in condemning the killing, the Chief Minister together with his daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, President PDP visited the grief-stricken family to offer their condolences and ordered a probe into the incident. After a week long shutdown in Kupwara, people were assured that the Army officer responsible for the killing of Mohd. Ashraf would be removed and punished under the law but nothing apparently has been done till now.
It is unfortunate that security forces, especially the Special Task Force (STF) have become unruly and continue with their killing spree. The STF especially has earned a particularly bad name for their alleged killings in custody. Though the Government assured the people that the STF would be merged into police, this has not yet happened. It is high time the government put a check on human rights violations. If the men in uniform claiming to be the defenders of the nation and destroyers of extremism resort to such acts, they must be punished.