Kashmiris on both sides of the line of control observed martyrdom anniversary of renowned Kashmiri freedom fighters Shaheed Maqbool Bhat and Shaheed Afzal Guru who were hanged to death and later buried in Tihar Jail premises. Eulogizing tributes were paid to both for their supreme sacrifices and peerless contribution to Kashmiris’ ongoing struggle for right to self-determination.
It is worth to recall here that Bhat the co-founder of JKLF was hanged on February 11, 1984 in Tihar Jail in New Delhi . Bhat was sent to gallows despite the fact that that his trial was shrouded in controversy. The legal experts believe that there had been several legal flaws in the case since its beginning in 1966. Kashmiri lawyers claim that the action of the then Indian government was totally in contravention to the Indian law saying that the hanging of JKLF stalwart was an act of illegal execution by the Indian state. No member of his family was allowed to see him before execution, and his body was not handed over to his family after, which amounts to brazen violation of international law. The execution was carried out without fulfilling the requirements of law and justice.
After a gap of nearly 29 years, a similar kind of judicial murder was committed when another Kashmiri youth Muhammad Afzal Guru who was awarded capital punishment on flimsy grounds. Guru was not provided the proper legal aid to defend him-self in the court of law. He was left at the mercy of the court that instead of holding a fair trial made a mockery of justice by issuing a controversial judgment that will continue to be the subject of a legal debate as a contentious issue in the judicial history of India. The execution triggered powerful debates and particularly the legal fraternity within the Indian state itself was shocked over the court ruling, which said, “The collective conscience of the society will be satisfied only if the death penalty is awarded to Afzal Guru”.
The fact is that the judicial murder of Bhat and Guru exposed Indian judiciary’s partiality and prejudice against Kashmiri people. In both the cases the instrument of justice was badly compromised, the legal experts within the IoK, India and elsewhere had raised their qualms over the veracity and fairness of the verdict.
It was a clear case of miscarriage of justice as and a blot in the face of Indian judiciary as well as its so-called democracy. World acclaimed Indian HR activist and author Arundhati Roy termed the hanging of Afzal Guru is a stain on India’s democracy. Guardian in its story published on 10 February 2013 wrote, “Despite gaping holes in the case against Afzal Guru, all India’s institutions played a part in putting a Kashmiri to death”. Renowned Indian politician Mani Shankar Aiyar while expressing his dismay over the court judgment said that it was rarest of rare judgments. Even the mainstream political parties in Indian occupied Kashmir criticized the government of Indian for not handing over the mortal remains of Guru to his family. It is no more a secret that Indian judiciary had miserably failed to deliver justice in both the cases. On the other hand the respective governments of India have been using judiciary as a tool against Kashmiris. A critical analysis of Indian judiciary’ role regarding Kashmir amply demonstrates the fact that it has become a handy tool for Indian security establishment to stifle the voice of dissent in Kashmir. It has been observed that Indian government and its judiciary are adopting a biased approach against Kashmiris, the institution of judiciary is being misused to victimize the innocent Kashmiris with a view to bring them into submission.
India, since a long time, has been using judiciary to suppress the voice of dissent in Kashmir, to avoid the international criticism. Dozens of youth have been awarded life imprisonment sentences over the past several years and now NIA and ED authorities who have no role in Kashmir have launched a new operation against resistance leadership. So far a majority of Hurriyat leaders, businessmen, lawyers and even journalists have been thrown behind the bars on baseless accusations. The Judiciary is yet again used a tool to prolong their detentions, which amounts to serious violations of basic human rights. It is time that the international community and particularly the world human rights bodies should take stock of the situation in the region and make India accountable for its crimes committed against Kashmiri people