WITH NEW videos of alleged excesses by security personnel emerging in Kashmir, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is learnt to have told Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Saturday that “such conduct of the troops” is “washing away all the progress that the Army has achieved in the Valley over the years”. She has also “sought action” against those responsible.
General Rawat called on Mehbooba in the Capital on Saturday, a day after a video showing a youth tied to the bonnet of an Army jeep in Budgam district surfaced. Sources said “a deeply distraught” Mehbooba told him that such actions have “serious repercussions”, and “appealed for immediate corrective action”.
According to sources, she told him that “while such actions have very serious ramifications for the state, they have far-reaching national and international implications too… it shouldn’t have happened, because it has completely undone whatever progress we have made in the last several years”.
Mehbooba told Gen Rawat that the Army jeep video “has created such a negative image and people are outraged”. She expressed hope that the Army would “take immediate steps to undo the damage”.
“Danday se kuchch nahin niklega (Nothing will come out of the use of force). Whatever has happened till now has happened. Now it shouldn’t be repeated again,’’ Mehbooba is learnt to have told the Army Chief. “Our only choice is to reach out to the people. You (Army) yourself have been conducting Sadbhavna operations and tours for (Kashmiri) youngsters for years. This approach will completely destroy that”.
Sources close to Mehbooba said the Army chief “assured her that he will do something about it”.
Some more videos surfaced on Saturday purportedly showing security personnel using excessive force. Sources said the nature of the videos indicated that it was an “inside” job, most probably recorded by a member of the security team. Mehbooba is learnt to have expressed “displeasure” and emphasised the need for immediate course correction.
In a 53-second long video, a group of youths are being beaten up and made to shout anti-Pakistan slogans. In another 22-second long video, a youth is being beaten with sticks as he shouts for help. Sources said Mehbooba has seen these videos.
Sources said Mehbooba had planned to visit Delhi over the weekend to meet her children and was also planning to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders. “But the Prime Minister and other leaders have all gone to Bhubaneswar,’’ sources said. The last time Modi spoke to Mehbooba was on April 7, when the incessant rainfall had sparked fears of a flood in Kashmir.
Earlier in the day, General Rawat also met J&K Governor N N Vohra in Jammu, where he briefed him on the prevailing situation in Kashmir. “He (General Rawat) was supposed to meet Mehbooba as well in Jammu. But because she had come to Delhi, he called on her at her official residence here,’’ said sources.
Meanwhile, sources said the Army has begun its internal investigation into the Army jeep video. The Army is also investigating two other videos, said sources.
Defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said the veracity of the videos was being ascertained. “Action will be taken against those found guilty of misconduct,’’ he said.
— With inputs from Mir Ehsan