Wednesday, July 20, 2016

India - The state’s war on democracy in Kashmir - Statements PUDR, PUCL, COHR Manipur

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights

Press Release (18th July 2016)
The state’s war on democracy in Kashmir
After bullets, pellets, deaths; after curfew, clampdowns on mobile internet and on cable television, the Indian state has further exacerbated the war on people in Kashmir. On the night of 15 July 2016, the police raided, seized and shut down the printing presses of two leading dailies, Rising Kashmir and Greater Kashmir. When Budgam police raided the office of Rising Kashmir, it seized the English and Urdu copies of Bulund Kashmirand, it also detained the staff and harassed them. A similar story was reported from the printing office of Greater Kashmir.
The attack on the press is quite clearly a proof of the Indian state’s state of mind. It believes that by gagging the press, the Kashmir story will die. Indeed, the state has a reason to fear the Kashmir press; the local media has identified all the 43 dead; it has reported that nearly 2200 persons have been injured so far; and that nearly 100 persons are in a critical state because of pellet wounds to their eyes. ( It is this story that the state is zealously trying to gag and kill.
This war on the freedom of the press to report the dirty war that the state is brutally carrying out in Kashmir, is not new. It has happened in the past; in 1990, in 2008, in 2010; and in 2013. This time it is being justified as a ‘temporary’ measure, a ‘reluctant’ decision that the state government has imposed in order to prevent ‘multiplication of tragedies’ that is occurring as an ‘emotional lot, very young…get surcharged due to certain projections in the media”. This knee-jerk reaction of the state government and its spokesperson, Nayeem Akhtar, to blame the media for the killings in Kashmir is a sign of the times. In curfew-ridden Kashmir where people are dying and angry, this is the palliative that the government call offer: the refusal to let the people know what is happening. A refusal to let people know their own story.
On the other hand, the Centre is hoarsely claiming that it is the people of Kashmir who are to blame for their fate. The Minister of State, General (Retd) V.K. Singh stated that: “Whole world knows the power of India” and knows that India has a special recognition in the future also. Do you want to be part of this epic-story of India?It’s my request, step out of the crowd and direct your future.”(The Indian Express, 17 July 2016). Besides reminding the Minister of his not-so-famous ‘epic’ declarations in the past, it is time to also remind him and his ilk, that in a ghost valley, his words have few takers.
It is heartening to note that the crackdown on the press has been strongly protested by journalists and media personnel in Srinagar on 16July 2016. The placards at the protest meeting and the statement issued by newspaper editors, printers and publishers strongly condemned the ban and vowed to fight back. It is this spirit that the state government nor the Centre can easily tame.
PUDR strongly condemns the Centre and state governments for imposing this ban on the media in Kashmir. The freedom to think, write and disseminate information is cornerstone of any democracy , with an independent, conscious, alive and free press as the best safeguard against violations of fundamental rights, which must be protected and fought for, at all costs.
Deepika Tandon, Moushumi Basu
Secretaries, PUDR
18th July 2016
*PUCL Press Statement

16th July 2016
*Why is Kashmir boiling?*
*A call to citizens to protest an encounter killing and brutal handling of after shocks.*
PUCL Condemns Brutal Repression of Unarmed Protests in Kashmir and Urges the Indian State to act within the bounds of law to end terrorism in the state.
PUCL expresses its deepest concerns about the manner in which the Indian security establishment has handled the protests that erupted across the Kashmir valley as a consequence of the killing of Burhan Wani in a suspected fake encounter last Friday, 8th July, 2016. By many accounts, Wani was shot at from close quarters of about 4 feet in a cold blooded murder and not in an encounter. Two other persons accompanying Wani were also killed by a special team of the security forces. Such cold blooded killings camouflaged as “encounter” in an alleged gun-fight is unacceptable in a democracy. PUCL condemns both the Central Government and the PDP led J &K government for launching an operation to liquidate suspected or real terrorists in fake encounters instead of respecting the rule of law and prosecuting them.
During the last few months, many terrorists have been killed in Kashmir without noticeable protest, but following Burhan Wani’s killing the valley is on fire. The widespread protests in the valley has led to the firing in which as many as 34 unarmed Kashmiris have been killed and over 92 people injured including those hit in the eye by the so called `non-lethal’ weapons firing pellets, instead of bullets.
It is important for the rest of India to ask why there is so widespread and determined protest now when there was no protest at such a scale every time alleged terrorists were killed? The obvious reason is that though the protesters accept that those who fight with arms must expect to be countered with arms as is the rule of war as well as peace, but to them, the killing of Wani was not in a real encounter but in a fake encounter after luring him to the place where he was killed with his two friends. Most lamentably, the circumstances and manner of Wani’s killing are being concealed from the people, but the people of Kashmir know it and are seething with anger.
Some newspapers have reported the circumstances and manner of Wani’s killing but placed it at some obscure place. For example, The Dainik Bhaskar, Muzaffarpur edition (11.7.2016 on page 17) has published an account of the encounter based on an interview of Upmita Bajpayee with an officer involved in the operation. According to the officer, a honey trap was set with a girl known to be close to Wani. She lured him to visit her at her house at the village Badmura. The security forces were tipped and were also informed that the terrorists were not heavily armed. The house was surrounded and was set on fire to force him out, as the Islamists do not want to die in a fire as it is like ‘Dokhaj’ (Hell). As the fire raged, Wani reportedly came out supported by two of his friends. The security forces shot him from a distance of 4 feet. They also killed both of his friends though they initially wanted to capture them alive but killed them, too. The heading of news item is KHUD JAAL ME FANSA THA WANI, SENA NE GHERA TAB NASE ME THA, 4 FEET DOOR SE MARA GOLI (Wani walked into the trap himself, when the armed forces surrounded him, he was inebriated, was shot from a distance of four feet ).
Kashmir would not have been on the boil if Wani were not killed in cold blood in a fake encounter after setting a honey trap. Most likely his death would have been protested like other cases of killing of terrorists in a real encounter but without the scale of current uprising.
It is important to point out that the alleged terrorists are being treated as worse than Nathuram Godse, who murdered Mahatma Gandhi and Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist, involved in Mumbai terror attack of 2008. None of them was shot dead like Wani. They were tried giving them the opportunity to defend themselves and finally punished according to the law. That is what the adherence to the constitution and the rule of law mandates and is the basis of our claim to be a civilized nation.
It is a shame that the rest of India is not protesting against the cold blooded murder of Wani and his friends. Their being a terrorist was not a greater crime than Gandhiji’s murderer or Ajmal Kasab’s role in Mumbai terror attack. Our law as reiterated by the apex court from time to time does not permit killing of terrorists in fake encounters and treats it as plain murder. The general indifference or support for the killing of Wani in the rest of India smacks of a double standard and angers and further alienates the people of Kashmir.
The PUCL demands that regardless of the difficulties, the State must fight terrorism within the frame -work of the constitution and the law of the land to win the trust of the people in the fairness of the Indian State and arrest further alienation of the Kashmiris. The lawless ways of the State are bound to add to the legitimate anger and alienation of the Kashmiris.
*Prof. Prabhakar Sinha
Dr. V. Suresh, *
National President, PUCL
National General Secretary,PUCL
COHR, Manipur calls for Peace and Solidarity in Jammu & Kashmir
The Committees on Human Rights (COHR), Manipur expresses our grief and shock to learn that the people of Jammu & Kashmir has been experiencing human rights violations and enormous scale of pain and grievances resulting from the uses of excessive security forces in the ongoing agitation and demonstration in the aftermath of the killing of Burhan Wani, Commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen on 8th July 2016.
The COHR, Manipur also deeply express our concern over the abject human rights situations in J&K. COHR further expresses our condolence and also grief and sorrow for the lives of those 37 Kashmiri civilians who were killed and those thousand of civilian injured, including those who lose their sights in the heinous and merciless violations perpetrated by the security forces in the past one week in Jammu & Kashmir. The continued imposing of curfew in many parts of the Kashmir valley and indiscriminately firing of rubber bullet, shelling of tears gas, pellet and bullet guns firings against civilians, protesting the violations, is a clear instance of violation of both human rights and International humanitarian laws. The Committee on Human Rights (COHR), Manipur would like to emphasize the need to usher in peaceful co-existence and solidarity in the region.
The COHR would like to appeal all the concerned authorities including United Nations (UN) whose representatives are based in J&K, the Government of India and neighboring country Pakistan to initiate all steps necessary to resolve the ongoing burning human rights crisis, that mainly affecting the inherent rights of civilians, including old aged, men, women, children and youths in Jammu & Kashmir.
The Government of India should fully respect the international humanitarian and human rights laws according to the UN resolution in Jammu and Kashmir.
(Phulindro Konsam)
Chairman Committee on Human Rights (COHR), Manipur, India.

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