SRINAGAR - Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, in his Independence Day speech here Saturday, said his government would not tolerate human rights violations by the security forces and also apologised for the lapses in the probe into the rape and murder of two women in Shopian district.
“I cannot overlook the tragic incident that occurred at Shopian. I accept that there were mistakes by the administration and the government initially with regard to this incident,” Abdullah said.
“I am sorry and apologise this. But my government is determined to bring the guilty to book in the Shopian incident,” the chief minister said while addressing the main parade at the Bakshi Stadium in summer capital Srinagar amid tight security.
Asiya Jan, 17, and her 22-year-old sister-in-law Neelofar were found dead off a stream in their village in Shopian May 30. Their autopsies confirmed that they were raped and murdered, triggering violent protests in the valley. The state government set up a commission under a retired high court judge to investigate the case.
On the commission’s recommendation, four police officers were arrested for their alleged role in “the destruction, dissipation and suppression of evidence”.
“Wherever there have been violations of human rights we have acted promptly,” Abdullah said.
The chief minister stressed that the separatists should engage in a meaningful dialogue with the government.
“I want to write a new chapter in the progress and development of the state and for this I need the support from everybody,” he said.
The chief minister took the salute at an impressive parade in which smartly turned-out contingents of the army, police, paramilitary, forest protection force and home guards marched past the podium.
Three-tier security was in place to secure the Bakshi Stadium and sharpshooters occupied all high-rise buildings around the vicinity. Roads to the stadium were patrolled by contingents of the police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and special electronic jamming equipment had been put in place around the venue.
The separatists had called for a general strike across the Valley Saturday to highlight what they term continuing human rights violations in Kashmir and also to press for the right of self-determination for the people.
In winter capital Jammu, hundreds of people turned up at the Independence Day function, where Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand took the salute at an impressive parade.
Held amid high security, school children also presented an entertaining cultural programme on the occasion.
Tara Chand hoisted the national tricolour and called upon the people to join in the march to “progress and prosperity of Jammu and Kashmir”.
“It is our duty that all of us should be partners in the progress of the state, especially when the Centre has granted us huge funding in the budget and Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan,” he said.
Jammu and Kashmir has got a plan allocation of Rs.5,500 crore (Rs.55 billion) and an additional amount of Rs.1,200 crore under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan.
Independence day functions were also held in all other district headquarters of the Valley including Ganderbal, Bandipora, Kupwara, Baramulla, Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Badgam where senior ministers of the coalition government took the salute at impressive parades.