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.