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STATE'S VICTIMS TOO
THE HINDUSTAN TIMES
NEW DELHI, SATURDAY, January 27, 1996

EDITORIAL

The comprehensive report on human rights violations of the minority community in Kashmir during the past six years, which was formally released in the Capital last Tuesday, present a serious indictment not just of the terrorist elements in the Valley but also the discriminations practised by the State. The report which is fourth in the series of memoranda presented by the Panun Kashmir Movement (PKM) to the National Human Rights Commission between March 7, 1994 and December 20, 1995, lists hundreds of communally targeted cases of murder, arson, loot and rape. Though several of these cases had been reported in the media off and on, it is for the first time that they have been documented in such detail. The total picture emerging from the report indicates how a whole community's basic rights to life and livelihood had been threatened under what looks like a meticulously devised game plan. It is perhaps a sad reflection on the manner in which the human rights groups function in this country that a large number of these violations seem to have passed them by, or possibly, have been deliberately ignored.

The most damning part of the report, however is not about the atrocities committed by the terrorist groups but some of the policies practised by the State administration. The administration having itself assessed loss to property incurred by the affected people, followed it up by making relief payments at rates that varied vastly from person to person displaying blatant communal bias. The victims belonging to the victim community were paid relief at rates as low as fifty per cent of the assessed amount while the State's majority community assessees were compensated to the tune of 200 per cent and above. Much more than the money paid by way of relief was involved here. It exposes the State administration to charge of discrimination on the basis of religion as well as violation of the constitutional guarantee of equality before law. It is amazing how such gross violations of the fundamentals of a secular and democratic State could have escaped the notice of successive Governors, and even the Union Home Ministry. Urgent correction of such aberrant policies is called for in order to restore confidence of all sections of the population in the justness of the State administration. The very fact that there had been so little effort at self-correction by the State so far placed an additional burden on the National Human Rights Commission which had been approached for relief by the PKM on behalf of the affected population.

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