J&K High Court directs Army, cops not to harass militants' families

Kashmir Army Representational image | AP

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the security forces not to harass the families of militants.

The High Court order came on Friday after lawyers Mir Shafaqat Hussain and Mir Wajid, on behalf of the families of the militants, submitted before Justice Tashi Rabstan that ''a militant holds a gun; his family cannot be victimised; their right to life and liberty is an individual right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.”

The petitioners pleaded that the Indian Army “is not allowing them to live peacefully and due to raids, they have become socially disconnected as people keep away from their homes due to the situation created by the Army and police for them”.

Hussain told the High Court, “The daughter of one of the petitioners had to quit her studies in class 12 as a consequence of illegal and continuous harassment at the hands of the Army and Special Operation Group (SOG) of police.”

He pleaded, “The state is the custodian of life and other individual freedoms guaranteed under Chapter III of the Constitution and the state authorities are under an obligation not to interfere with these freedoms or endanger the life of these individuals.”

The High Court issued notices to the respondents—police and other security forces—and ordered them not to harass the petitioners without following the procedure of law and and directed them to ensure the protection of their life and property.

Notices were also issued to deputy commissioner, Pulwama; deputy inspector-general of police, South Kashmir range; senior superintendent of police, Pulwama; superintendent of police, Awantipora; in-charge of Special Operations Group in Tral, Pulwama; in-charge of Special Operations Group in Aribal, Pulwama; in-charge of police station, Tral; in-charge of Army’s 56 post office and and commanding officer of the Army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles camp in Tral.

Assistant Solicitor-General of India Tahir Shamsi accepted the notice on behalf of the Union defence ministry and the Army.

Hussain told THE WEEK that he pleaded before the High Court that the militants were armed and their families had no control over them. “These militants are educated and some of them are well-qualified; how can the families be held responsible for their actions?'' he argued. “More families are approaching me for help,'' he said; the next hearing will be in two weeks time.

The alleged harassment and damage to the property of the militants led to the kidnapping of 12 kin of policemen in parts of south Kashmir on August 30. The abductees were released after police freed from detention Assadullah Naikaoo, father of Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Reyaz Naikoo.

Earlier, militants had killed four policemen in a ambush on a police patrol party at Shopian.