Social Activists Condemn Using Force against Protesting Stone Throwers in Kashmir

Even women Kashmir women to protest against police killings

Using live ammunition against protesting stone throwers in Kashmir valley is strongly condemned by social activists, working in various fields in India, in a conference held in Mumbai on Friday 3rd September. They demanded the government to immediately halt the use or arms by security forces against stone throwers to end the turmoil in the Kashmir valley that is raged as a consequence of killing innocent people of Kashmir for last 3 months. The conference is convened by Peace Mumbai, a network of several social organisations. The meeting also called for an immediate withdrawal of security forces from the civilian areas of Jammu & Kashmir. At least 70 people have been killed in firing by security forces, including boys and girls below the age of 15 years, only in August.

The conference is held throughout the day on the issue titled “Kashmir at Crossroads: The Way Forward”. The meeting passed a resolution demanding all parties of various perspectives, to return immediately to the negotiating table that also said the solution can be obtained only by initiating the political process. The conference expressed concern over naked violations of human rights for the Kashmir people and urged the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to implement his promise of zero tolerance for all human rights violations in Kashmir. The Prime Minister is asked to repeal the draconian laws such as ‘the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) and ‘the Public Safety Act’ that provided the security forces every power to kill innocent people at their free will in Kashmir.
Draconian Laws
The Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) has attracted wide condemnation even in North-East states like Manipur. Some 12 middle-aged Manipur women protested without a single piece of cloth on their bodies in front the headquarters of the army forces displaying a banner reading “Indian Army, Rape Us” in protest against brutal rape and killing of a Manipuri woman aged about 30 years, named ‘Thanglam Manorama’. The Indian Army and security forces have been given extraordinary powers under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 to search, seize, arrest and even kill anyone suspected of being an insurgent in order to "maintain the public order." Armed with these acts along with guns the security forces are causing enormous miseries and humiliation daily for Kashmiris.

Human Rights Violations
The Mumbai conference on Kashmir asked the government to investigate into all cases of human rights violations and release all political prisoners and those being held without charges. Among the eminent personalities that addressed the conference included editor of Srinagar based daily ‘Kashmir Images’ Bashir Manzar, Chairman of the Jammu & Kashmir People’s Conference ‘Sajjad lone’ and activists like Pushpa Bhave, Jatin Desai, Deepak Lokhande, Jennifer Mirza, Ritu Dewan, Journalist Kalpana Sharma and others. The speakers expressed concerns that the people are facing hardships, loss of working days and wages due to weeks of curfew and shutdowns.
Civil Society Team Visits Kashmir
In another development, a civil society team led by Swami Agnivesh that visited the Kashmir valley recently described the situation in Kashmir as ‘critical and tragic.’ All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has apprised the team of ‘unjustified killings perpetuated by the Indian police and paramilitary troops.’ Mirwaiz told the team that the Indian government was talking of peace but acting with arms. Swami Agnivesh’s team also visited the hospitals in which injured Kashmir people in police firing are being treated.
The team called for the immediate withdrawal of the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir. Swami Agnivesh said reporters in New Delhi that the people, with whom the team talked in Kashmir, expressed their anger on insensitiveness of security forces and frustration with the total indifference of the government towards the tragic happenings in Kashmir. The team comprised of eminent persons like former chairperson of the National Commission for Women Mohini Giri, activist and former naval chief Admiral L. Ramdas, Delhi Catholic diocese spokesperson Father Dominic Emmanuel and social worker Mazher Hussain. They’ve asked the Govt to provide a public places to express protest.
Cursed People
If one looks at the statistics of the result of the draconian acts that were promulgated in 1958 especially for Kashmir and Northeastern states, cannot stop wondering what the Indian rulers are up to by providing total misinformation to the Indian people, brutally oppressing Kashmiris and suppressing their aspirations. We can find the statistics on the website of (KMS – Kashmir Media Service) along with several other issues relating to Kashmir and daily updates of the struggles being waged in Kashmir.
According to the website, since the year 1989 in which second Kashmir uprising began, 93,379 people have been killed at the hands of security forces till date. 6,974 people have been killed while being in police or paramilitary troops’ custody. While 118,060 civilians were arrested, 105,866 structures or buildings were looted and destroyed by the forces. 22,734 Kashmiri women were widowed; 107,366 children were orphaned; 9,946 women were molested or raped or gang-raped in the hands of Indian security forces of all sorts. While these are the statistics for over the period of January 1989 to August 2010, statistics for the month of August 2010 alone are like this: Total killings are 72 of which 37 are men and 4 are women and 31 children are killed, the most disturbing fact; 3 are killed in custody in August 2010. The people tortured or critically injured by the forces are 1,505; arrested civilians are 236; one structure destroyed; 3 women widowed; 9 children orphaned; and 20 women molested or gang-raped.
Not only Land but People of Aspirations
What’s more worrisome is these killings, rapes and destructions have never been accounted for by the Indian government let alone being compensated. They were automatically justified as a result of the powers granted to the police forces by the said acts. Human rights’ act, women rights’ act, children rights’ act and even fundamental rights that were enshrined in the constitution of India do not apply in Kashmir state though India fervorously contends that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of the country whenever Kashmir issue is raised on international platforms.
Kashmir is integrated, though in part, into India geographically; but Kashmir people are left to the Indian wolves. These wolves need not be of military which is only a tool used for oppression. They are also political wolves who need economic resources of the Kashmir valley. Indian people have to understand Kashmir means not only a summer destination for taking rest, but people live there; they are humans who have their own aspirations; they have their own culture to be protected; they are a nation that has a right to be independent; and they do have dreams for the future of their children to be fulfilled in a peaceful and delighting atmosphere.
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