HRW says unarmed protesters killed in Kashmir

Srinagar, July 20 2013 (PPI-OT): The New York-based world rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged India to appoint an independent commission to promptly and transparently investigate the killing of protesters by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) troops in Ramban area of occupied Kashmir.

The Human Rights Watch in a statement issued on its website said that the Indian government should act to end the BSF’s longstanding impunity for large numbers of killings over many years. It said that the death of four protesters and the wounding of nearly a dozen more people highlighted the urgency of an independent inquiry.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of HRW, said that the loss of life in Ramban mosque needed a prompt investigation by an independent commission. “Any finding of illegal use of force by BSF troops should result in prosecutions. Too often the BSF’s version of events is simply accepted, allowing killing after killing for which no one is held to account,” she added.

The HRW said, senior Indian officials have responded appropriately to the incident, but need to follow up with action. It said that the puppet Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, said that it was “highly unacceptable to shoot at unarmed protesters.” Indian Home Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, has promised an investigation and said that “any use of excessive force or irresponsible action will be dealt with strictly”, it added. However, it also pointed out that previous investigations of BSF abuses had often been delayed and prosecutions stalled.

The statement said that the HRW had previously documented serious human rights violations by the BSF troops but the Indian government had failed to prosecute the troops responsible for serious abuses. Inquiries by the Indian National Human Rights Commission receive a standard response that fatalities occurred when troops had to fire in self-defence, it deplored.

The statement said that since the shootings, violent protests had broken out in several parts of occupied Kashmir and the authorities had imposed curfews in some areas. “Incidents that end in shootings are not only terrible for all those involved, but set the stage for unnecessary bloodshed in the future,” it further added.

For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
Phone: 92-51-4435548, 4435549
Fax: 92-51-4861736

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