Mumbai: A team of 15 lawyers from various parts of the country who are members of the Indian Association for People’s Lawyers (IAPL) visited Kashmir for a fact-finding campaign and have come out with observations saying that the national media has “distorted facts” and kept a wrong picture of Kashmir before the country and that the lawyers in Kashmir are facing fatal hurdles while carrying out their duties.
The IAPL is the India chapter of the International Association of People’s Lawyers and was formed in the year 2004 “to uphold justice, equality, human rights and to fight against all undemocratic laws and procedures, not only in the courts but also through the fact-finding mission.” The fact-finding effort in Kashmir was one such effort.
The team of 15 lawyers from different regions of India like Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana conducted the fact-finding from May 23 to May 27, meeting with the bar associations of the Kashmir High Court, Baramulla, Handwara, Kupwara, Ganderbal, Budgam, Shopian, Islamabad (Anantnag), Pulwama and Chairperson of SHRC.
The association, in a statement, claims that in the background of the conflict situation, the fact-finding mission found that the lawyers in Kashmir are “working in very difficult circumstances while trying to bring some semblance of the rule of the law when it comes to human rights violations in various part of the state.”
The team was “shocked to find that the state’s lawyers, apart from facing threats, intimidation, illegal detentions and arrests, have been subject to torture and killings, while discharging their professional responsibilities.”
Adding that the “lawyers are exhausting all local remedies available to them in fighting this uphill battle due to the interference by executive, police, administration and Armed Forces in independent functioning of the judiciary and also partly due to deliberate non-compliance of judicial orders.”
Saranga Ugalmugle, a High Court lawyer who was a part of the mission, while speaking to Sakal Times said, “The law and order situation is in shambles since nobody is held accountable for the horrific human rights violations which are committed by our forces. It is a state in conflict and it is our responsibility as citizens of India to question our own government and hold it accountable.” The committee will soon release a detailed fact-finding report before the people, he added.