The Indian Government continues to reject the demand for judicial inquiry into the killings of 100-plus people including 35 Muslims in Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month.
The Opposition, including Congress - I, is leaving no stone unturned in mounting pressure upon the Government for the inquiry. But a top minister is alleged to have told a Congress leader not to press for an inquiry as this would reveal that many of those who died were actually killed by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the state police, by mistake, during crossfire with Kashmiri rebels.
The Indian government's official version maintains that two Muslim militants on a suicide mission opened fire at a pilgrim camp and killed people including Hindu pilgrims. But eyewitnesses suggest otherwise, saying that the security forces killed some of the dead.
Ram Sehgal, a pilgrim, told reporters that the police resorted to indiscriminate firing as soon as they realized that the camp was under attack. The postmortems conducted on the dead reveal the bullets recovered from at least 33 dead bodies were of the security forces, not of the AK-47 rifles in possession of Kashmiri militants.
The massacre took place during the cease-fire announced by the major mujahideen group Hizbullah, which has called it an un-Islamic act. In its history, Hizbullah has never attacked innocent people. Events show that its main targets have been security forces and police personnel.
When asked why the government is hesitant to conduct a judicial inquiry into the massacre, a senior BJP leader shot back, "Do I want a report that in any way casts aspersions on our security forces?"
After the cease-fire withdrawal by the Hizbullah, it has become clear that Indian government was not serious enough for peace in the valley. India developed cold feet when the Hizbullah called for the tripartite talks including Pakistan and Kashmiri people.
After the partition of the sub-continent, India's first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had promised a plebiscite in the United Nations and said a vote of people is necessary to determine their fate. "If the people of the J&K join Pakistan, we may feel upset but we cannot check it."
The Delhi Agreement between Mr. Nehru and his Pakistani counterpart Liaqat Ali also reaffirmed that Kashmiris would be allowed to decide their fate. However, Indian Prime ministers have always changed their stand on the Kashmir issue.
When Congress leader P. V. Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister, he had announced that Kashmir is an integral part of India. The present Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, has also insisted that Kashmir is an integral part of India. But when he went to Lahore with his entourage, he changed his stand in Lahore and said that Kashmir is a disputed territory.
India's double standard was exposed when it offered talks to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland without laying down conditions at the time.
"Talks were held in a foreign country. Four different Prime ministers were involved despite the fact that Issac Muviah, a Naga leader, did not accept that Nagaland is an integral part of India. Here in Kashmir that is internationally acknowledged as disputed territory, the government is laying down conditions. Where is the scope for dialogue?'' said Yaseen Malik, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).
(Muhammad Faheem is a freelance journalist living in New Delhi, India.)
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