The Union Home Ministry and J-K Police have denied information on the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for the armed forces related to combat operations in the Kashmir Valley saying it “concerns the security, strategic and scientific interests of the nation”. The denial has come after a Kashmir based human rights group filed a Right to Information (RTI) asking for the information.
Last month, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society- through a RTI had asked the Union Home Ministry and the J-K police to share the information and relevant documents regarding the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for the armed related to combat operations (encounters, arrests and search), but the information has been denied.
“The information sought by you about the SOPs relating to combat operations falls under section 8(1) (a) of the Act (JKRTI Act 2009) and is also not in the largest interest of the Public,” J-K police has said in their response.
The Union Home Ministry, in its response has cited the provisions of Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act, for the denial.
“The requisite information cannot be disclosed as the information regarding the combat operations concerns the security, strategic and scientific interests of the nation,” it has said.
Khuram Parvaiz who heads the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society said that the “secrecy” strengthens the impunity to the armed forces and police personnel.
“The denial of information pertaining to SOPs for combat operations is against the principles of transparency and accountability,” he said.
“If at all the SOPs regarding the combat operations exist, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have the right to know the guidelines approved by the government for the armed forces and police.”
He said that this denial is not surprising and not the first of its kind. “It is consistent with the previous denial of information in several other RTI requests pertaining to cases of enforced disappearances, mass graves and unmarked graves, monetary rewards and awards for anti-militancy operations, information related to militants killed, interrogation centers, Village Defence Committees (VDCs), Special Police Officials (SPOs) and many more,’’ he said.