SC warns ‘ill-trained’ police force in Kashmir [Governance]
- Kashmir has been the victim of separatists’-driven protests, but abuse by an ill- trained police force exacerbates violence and triggers public anger, the Supreme Court said as the State reels under armed stand-offs between civilians and police since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July.
- The apex court warned protestors to not mistake their right to assemble and move freely as unlimited freedom to indulge in violence.
- In the same tone, the court turned to the police and cautioned the force against “indulging in excesses which become barbaric, not halting even after controlling the situation”.
- A distinguishing feature of any democracy is the space offered for legitimate dissent. One cherished and valuable aspect of political life in India is a tradition to express grievances through direct action or peaceful protest.
- Organised, non-violent protest marches were key weapon in our struggle for Independence.
- The judgment was based on a petition filed by several persons, including activists, alleging that they were brutalised by the State Police when their protest espousing the case of Jammu migrants led to a clash with the police in 2007.
- Demonstrations have been twisted out of shape by religion, ethnicity, caste and class divisions — all of which have been “frequently exploited to foment violence whenever mass demonstrations or dharnas, etc, take place”.
- The State cannot hide behind the defence of sovereign immunity when there is a “patent and incontrovertible” violation of fundamental rights through brutality, torture and custodial violence.