MORE than a year after he was killed, reportedly in an encounter with the Army, the J&K government has decided to approve compensation for the family of Khalid Muzaffar Wani, the brother of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani who was killed by the armed forces on July 8. The move has sparked a political storm with the ruling PDP’s ally BJP saying that it opposes it.
“The BJP will oppose it because we are of the firm opinion that he was a terrorist. There is no provision for grant of ex-gratia or compensation to the family of a slain terrorist,” said Sunil Sethi, advocate and chief spokesperson of the BJP in J&K.
The state government has, however, said that the list was “preliminary” and that it has called for “objections”, if any, from individuals and institutions, such as the Army, before confirming its decision.
“This is a preliminary list and not a final decision. That is why we have sought objections,” said Muneer-ul-Islam, Deputy Commissioner (Pulwama), who heads the District Level Screening and Coordination Committee (DLSCC), which decides on compensation cases. “We have sought objections from individuals and various institutions, including Army, police, CRPF and others,” he said.
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The J&K government regularly compensates civilians killed by militants or during anti-militancy operations but does not usually make public the identities of those involved.
In the latest move, officials said the government has issued a list of 27 civilians, who have been killed or have gone missing in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district and whose cases have been processed for compensation. While the government has cleared compensation for 17 people, it has rejected four cases and deferred its decision in six cases.
While the Army had claimed that Khalid, 25, was killed in an encounter on April 13, 2015, Khalid’s father Muzaffar Wani had described the death as a case of “custodial killing”.
A post-graduate student in economics, Khalid was killed in the Kamla forests of Tral. According to police sources, Khalid had allegedly gone to the forest along with three friends to meet Burhan. The three friends were detained by the Army and handed over to police.
Asked about the decision to publicise the list of those whose cases were processed, Muneer-ul-Islam said, “I don’t know whether there is any precedence or not. But I have been always putting such issues in the public domain because transparency is the biggest asset of public administration.”
Out of the 27 cases, 14 — including two women — pertain to the killing of civilians by militants or security forces while six are of those who went missing, some allegedly from the custody of security forces.
The oldest case pertains to Mohammad Ayub Mir, a resident of Gadoora Pulwama, who went missing in 1991 while the latest is that of Shabir Ahmad Mangoo, a lecturer of Khrew who died while allegedly in Army custody this August.
The inclusion of Khalid in the list and his clearance for compensation comes after the Army and police had claimed that he was killed in an encounter between militants and the Army, and that police had recovered a rifle from his possession.
“Khalid was not an innocent victim of crossfiring between security forces and terrorists. He was killed in a successful operation by security forces. Our party’s state president Sat Sharma will talk to BJP ministers in the coalition government in this regard,” said BJP’s Sethi.