National Conference Vice-President and Former Minister Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan on Tuesday lashed out at MLA Handwara and Minister for Social Welfare Sajad Lone for “trying to use” grave tragedy of Handwara killings for “PR and photo-opportunities” rather than focusing on ensuring justice is done with families of victims.
“In his desperate attempt to hide his failure in not visiting the grieving families of the victims in Handwara for seven days, local MLA and Minister Sajad Lone is trying to mislead the people while the Government remains absolutely clueless about both the inquiry into the incident as well as into the deaths of five innocent civilians,” Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan said in a party statement.
“Bunker that has been removed was erected in 2004 during the PDP-Congress Government’s tenure and in fact lakhs of rupees were provided for the construction of the bunker by the then local independent MLA who was fielded by Sajad Lone. We welcome the removal of the bunker but it’s ironic that those who got the bunker erected are claiming credit for its removal. Also, removing the bunker cannot be a substitute of a credible, holistic and time-bound inquiry which has to have the focal goal of ensuring that justice is done with the families of the victims,” Chaudhary Mohammad Ramzan further said.
“The said bunker was burnt by the people and not personally removed by Sajad Lone as he would like everyone to believe. The people of Handwara deserve credit for ensuring the bunker was removed, not Sajad Lone. For seven days he was missing from Handwara and today he has made an appearance to claim credit for the removal of the bunker. He should rather have visited the families of the slain youth and tried to ensure that a proper, systematic inquiry is initiated at the earliest possible instance,” he added.
The NC leader also sought that ex-gratia relief and compensation be dispensed to the families of the victims as well as those who are injured and undergoing treatment in various hospitals.
“A Minister of PDP was seen pushing some cash into the closed fist of a seriously injured victim while he got the act recorded on camera. This is adding salt to the wounds of the people of Handwara and Kupwara and is in line with PDP’s established trait of using every possible misery for its PR and gimmickry. Nothing can be more obnoxious and insensitive,” the senior NC leader further said.
Seeking government jobs for the next of kin of the slain youth, Chaudhary Mohammad Ramzan said the State Government’s chaotic, wavering stands on the Handwara incident and the “mishandling of the situation was evident in how contradictory statements were being issued by officers of the State Administration, PDP Ministers and local MLAs”.
Meanwhile, National Conference Leader and District President of the party for Kupwara, Qaiser Jamsheed Lone expressed disappointment on the reported remarks of the Government the inquiry would first ascertain if shots were fired by the people as opposed to the security forces and the police. “This appears to be the start of an elaborate effort to conceal the truth and divert the attention of the proposed inquiry. The focus of the inquiry should be to ascertain if SOPs were violated and disproportionate use of force led to the death of five civilians. Rather than this, remarks like these are disheartening and insensitive,” Qaiser Jamsheed Lone said.