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വായന

09 July, 2010

Plea to end Kashmir killings and order impartial probe

Over 100 concerned citizens have appealed to the Chief Justice of India, the National Human Rights Commission and the National commission for Protection of Children to ensure that the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government take immediate action to prevent further loss of life and property in Jammu and Kashmir. They have also sought an impartial inquiry into the recent killings in the region.

Copies of the appeal have been sent to the Union Home Ministry, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and the Planning Commission.

The following is the text of the appeal:

Dear Sir,
We, the undersigned, as a vigilant group of citizens submit our concerns regarding the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir and urge your immediate assistance in ensuring that the Government of India and the state government takes immediate action to prevent further loss of life and property and initiate an impartial investigation into the recent killings in the region.

The political situation in Jammu and Kashmir has worsened over the last few weeks, which has in turn strengthened the existing culture of impunity in the region. The current crisis also has serious humanitarian consequences.

On June 29, 2010 at least three persons were killed in indiscriminate firing and excessive use of force by the police in Anantnag district of the Kashmir Valley. Four persons were killed in firing on 5-6 July, 2010. It is estimated that more than 15 civilians have been killed and several others injured in the unprecedented use of force by the J & K police and paramilitary, especially the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in a span of two-three weeks. Several of those killed were children: Tufail Matoo (17), Javid Ahmad Malla (18), Shakeel Ahmad Ganai (14), Firdous Ahmed Kakroo (17), Asif Hasan Rather (9), Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khanday (15 from Anantnag), Imtiyaz Ahmad Itoo (17, from Anantnag), Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat (17), and Abrar Ahmad (17). Several protest marches organized across the Valley in response to the killings were met with indiscriminate firing by the security forces deployed in the region. We condemn the recent killings of children in Kashmir.

Over the past few days, the response by the security forces has been such that, on available accounts, even ambulances have not been spared. Media reports state that at three places, including at Safakadal and at Sangam on the Srinagar- Jammu highway, the CRPF fired on ambulances. Moreover, due to the imposition of curfew in the Valley, paramedics have been unable to reach hospitals as a result of which the existing hospital staff have been working over 36 hour shifts to tend to the injured. Even journalists with valid curfew passes have also been attacked. On June 28, 2010 a group of journalists belonging to local and national media organizations were attacked by the CRPF in the Qamarwari area of Srinagar.

Yet again, the recent events highlight the impunity with which the security forces in the region continue to operate. One of the emblematic cases that highlight the legal impunity is that of the enforced disappearance and murder of noted human rights activist, Jalil Andrabi by the Rashtriya Rifle, an army unit deployed in the Valley. In March 1996, Andrabi was illegally detained by security force personnel while returning from work. Three weeks later his mutilated body was found on the banks of the River Jhelum. International and national pressure culminated in the filing of a charge sheet by the police against the five accused in the Sessions Court, Budgam. However, the main accused in the Andrabi murder, Major Avatar Singh remains free to this day. The case of Jalil Andrabi is merely one example of the ongoing human rights violations. Many local and international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights have documented the systematic violations of human rights by state and non-state actors and the entrenched culture of impunity.

The promulgation of special laws in the state of Jammu and Kashmir provides legal immunity to the armed forces. Under the Armed Forces Special (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990, armed forces personnel of the rank of a commissioned officer, warrant officer, non commissioned officer or of an equivalent rank have been granted extraordinary powers such as the authority to shoot and kill suspected lawbreakers. Further, the Act in requiring prior sanction for prosecution acts as shield for impunity for the non-prosecution of security force personnel involved in egregious human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and torture. Thus far, sanction for prosecution has been granted only in a handful of cases, and perpetrators remain free. Therefore, in the least the procedure for granting sanction for prosecution should be at least be made more expeditious, effective, and equitable.

In this context it is even more necessary to seek accountability of the actions of the security forces in the region. Under applicable national and international law, the killing of children and attacks against hospital and medical infrastructure is strictly prohibited.

In fact, in its Eleventh Plan, the Planning Commission of India outlined special measures for women in from conflict zones within India, which would imply that there are conflict zones within India. The ongoing situation so far mentioned is in contravention of International law, humanitarian law as well as fundamental guarantees provided by the Indian Constitution, including the right to life (Article 21). As concerns the former, we seek to bring to you attention principles enshrined in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions; the International Covenants for Civil and Political Rights, 1976, and the Additional Protocols thereto; the Convention of the Rights of the Child, 1990 and its Optional Protocol; and the UN Security Council Resolution 1882 (2009) on the protection of children.

Regarding constitutional and national laws and adjudicatory policies, we may here refer to the following:
* The guidelines prescribed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on police action (of 12 May 2010) and in the police manual should be respected
* The Supreme Court decisions in D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (AIR 1997 SC 610) and Rajesh Gulate v. Government of Delhi (SCC 7 2002 129)
*The Supreme Court of India guidelines to check arbitrary police action and ensure punishment of perpetrators.
Given the use of unprecedented force, we urge that the security forces exercise restraint and refrain from firing at unarmed protestors. The Central and state governments must ensure that arbitrary and disproportionate use of force against civilians ends immediately and an impartial investigation is initiated into the killing of civilians. We urge the Government of India and the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Omar Abdullah to take immediate steps to:
• Put an immediate end to the violence perpetrated by the security forces
• Prevent attacks against civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and ambulances
• Ensure that the security forces respect the principle of proportionality while responding to civilian protests
• Initiate an independent and impartial investigation into the killings of peaceful protestors, several of whom were children
• Initiate an inquiry into instances of attacks on ambulance services
• Ensure that inquiries are conducted in a time bound manner and the report is made public
• Initiate legal and punitive action against persons who are found responsible for the killings of civilians
• Establish an independent inquiry commission to investigate the allegations of serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, killings, torture, rape and sexual violence in the region
• Invite and permit the relevant UN Rapporteurs, UN Special Representatives and members of the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearance to investigate the allegations of human rights abuses in the region
• Initiate a general debate involving members of the Kashmiri civil society and others on impunity and AFSPA, and possible mechanisms to respond to the prevailing impunity

Constitutionally Yours,

List of signatories

1. Professor Upendra Baxi, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Delhi
2. Dr Mallika V. Sarabhhai
3. Mrinalini V. Sarabhai
4. Navsharan Singh
5. Bhagat Oinam, Jawahar Lal Nehru University
6. Alternative Law Forum
7. The Patna Collective
8. Uma Chakravarti, Historian
9. Anuradha Bhasin, Kashmir Times
10. Prabodh Jamwal, Kashmir Times
11. Laxmi Murthy, Consulting Editor, Himal SouthAsia
12. Sahba Hussain
13. Shahrukh Alam
14. Trideep Pais, Advocate
15. Tenzing Choesang, Advocate
16. Tahseen Alam
17. Anouhita Majumdar, Senior Journalist
18. Anant Nath, The Caravan
19. Vasuman Khandelwal, Advocate
20. Bipin Aspatwar, Advocate
21. Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
22. Ashok Agrwaal, Advocate
23. Prof. Sitaram Kakarala, CSCS
24. Ved Bhasin, Chairman Kashmir Times group of publications
25. Rajeev Dhavan
26. Kanak Mani Dixit, Himal South Asia
27. Professor Sushil Khanna, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata
28. Rajashri Dasgupta, Journalist
29. Ram Puniyani, All India Secular Forum
30. Jashodhara Dasgupta, SAHAYOG, Lucknow
31. Warisha Farasat, Advocate
32. Jyoti Punwani, Journalist, Mumbai
33. K. Lalitha, Researcher, Hyderabad
34. Nitya Vasudevan, Research Scholar
35. Randhir Singh, Professor (retd.), Delhi University
36. Priyaleen Singh
37. Abid Mir
38. Areet Kaur
39. Anand Bala
40. Shahla Raza
41. Hafeez Khan
42. Paray Hilal
43. Dr. Pritam Singh
44. Dr. Meena Dhandha, Philospher
45. Dinesh Sharma, Bangalore
46. Dr Atul Sood, Jawaharlal University
47. Gursharan Singh, Convenor against Democratic Front Against Operation Green Hunt
48. Chakraverti Mahajan, Doctoral Student, Punjab University
49. Kavita Pai
50. Sheba George, Sahrwaru
51. Prof. Ranabir Samaddar, Director, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group
52. .Rita Manchanda, Safhr
53. Zakia Jowher, Action Aid
54. Roop Rekha Verma
55. Pushkar Raj, General Secretary PUCL
56. Binu Mathews,Editor, Counter Currents
57. Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
58. Dr. Kaveri Rajaraman
59. Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati
60. Pyare Shivpuri
61. Humra Quraishi, Freelance columnist
62. Haley Duschinski, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ohio University
63. Sahana Basavapatna, Advocate
64. Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai
65. Zainab Bawa, Ph.D. student and independent researcher
66. Chetna Kaul, filmmaker
67. Manish Kumar Tipu, music composer
68. Javed Naqi, Senior Research Fellow, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
69. PUCL (Andhra Pradesh)
70. Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web
71. Naga People's Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR)
72. Badri Raina
73. Manasi Pingle, Filmmaker
74. Pushpa Achanta (Independent writer, Bangalore)
75. Navaid Hamid, Member National Integration Council
76. Aamir Bashir, Actor and film-maker
77. Dipti Gupta, Professor, Media Studies.
78. Santanu Chakraborty (Student - Christ University)
79. Madhuri, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, Madhya Pradesh
80. Rosemary Dzuvichu, Nagaland University,Kohima
81. Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha
82. Uma V Chandru, Peace and Human Rights Activist, Bangalore
83. Advocate Narjees, Human Rights Law Network, Kashmir unit
84. AIPWA
85. Shoma, CAVOW
86. Geeta Charusivam, Social Activist Tamil Nadu
87. Arati Chokshi, Member – PUCL (Bangalore- Karnataka)
88. Dr Ritu Dewan, Professor, University of Mumbai
89. Dr Lena Ganesh, Mumbai
90. Pooja Sharma, cinematographer
91. Sajid Iqbal Khandey
92. Vrijendra
93. Sundera Babu
94. Aamer Trambu, Reporter, Press TV Iran
95. Saamer Mansoor, Student, University of Texas, Dallas
96. Nashwa Mansoor, Student of Medicine, Sangli
97. Dr Ben Rogaly, University Lecturer, UK
98. Meher Engineer, Teachers & Scientists Against Maldevelopment
99. Asish Gupta, Journalist, New Delhi
100 Ashok Choudhary, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)
101 dhu Bhaduri, Ambassador of India (Retd)
102 pin Kumar, AHUTTI, Patna
103 Women Against Militarization and State Violence
104 The Other Media
105 Subir Banerjee, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota
106 Ram Bhat, Maraa, Bangalore
107 J. Devika, Associate Professor, CDS, Trivandrum, Kerala
108 Priya Jain
109 Jawed Naqvi, journalist