Security forces and insurgents both committed human rights abuses in Kashmir during a separatist uprising there by Kashmiri and Pakistani militants in the 1990s. The Indian government now admits that thousands of bodies lie in unmarked graves in Kashmir, but this month ruled out wide-scale DNA testing sought for by families of the missing. Among the reasons cited in a government report, obtained by the Associated Press, were fear of media attention and the potential for stirring up unrest.
Meanwhile, no Indian soldier has been tried in a civilian court for human rights abuses in Kashmir, making Singh’s case potentially an unwanted precedent for the military.
“I think because it was too difficult for the military to contemplate one of their own standing trial for this murder that I just am not surprised that he was able to get a passport,” says Mr. Acharya.
India’s chief passport officer, Muktesh Pardeshi, says government records from 2001 show that Singh presented the proper paperwork to a regional office in Chandigarh. Authorities there – not in Delhi – granted him a passport, his first, valid for 10 years.
According to Mr. Pardeshi, the senior superintendent of police in Ludhiana, a nearby city where Singh then resided, issued him a “no objection certificate,” indicating he had a clean record. He also obtained a similar certificate from his commanding officer, Col. R. K. Goyal, as required of members of the military. Both certificates stated there was no court case pending against Singh, says Pardeshi.
The Monitor was unable to locate Goyal.