Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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Jammu Kashmir
Civil society groups condemn attack, demand impartial probe
SRINAGAR, July 12: Several civil society groups in and outside Jammu and Kashhmir have condemned the attack on Amarnath pilgrims demanded an impartial probe into the killing of seven Amarnath Yatris in an attack at Batengo in Anantnag.

The Concerned Citizens Group, comprising Yashwant Sinha, Wajahat Habibullah, Kapil Kak, Manish Tewari, Badri Raina, Sushobha Barve, Aroona Roy, Bharat Bhushan and others condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric attack on the Amarnath Yatris in Anantnag yesterday and expressed their deepest condolences to the bereaved families. They said that “the terrorists who have indulged in this dastardly act have completely misread the mood of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India”.

“We are not going to be cowed down by such acts of cowardice which only strengthens our resolve to find resolution of issues, however complicated, through peaceful means and through the democratic process of dialogue. Violence can never be justified as a method of resolving such issues,” they said in a statement.

We once again call upon those who believe in violence as a tool either in Jammu and Kashmir or across it to abandon this perilous path, abjure violence and militancy and stop taking innocent lives. We also call upon the governments of Jammu and Kashmir and India to take whatever steps necessary to ensure that there is no recurrence of such incidents in future.

Peace activists from different parts of the country including Anuradha Bhasin- Jammu, Harsh Mandar- Delhi, Jatin Desai- Mumbai, Mazher Hussain-Hyderabad; Ravi Nair- Delhi; Sandeep Panday-Lucknow; and Tapan Bose- Delhi also strongly condemned the firing on the Yatris’ bus. “There can be no justification for any violence and killing, much less of unarmed, innocent people. The victims were not men in uniform, able to return fire, but unarmed civilians making a journey that was sacred to them,” they said.

“We urge the militants to immediately stop targeting and attacking unarmed civilians. In 2016, when the valley was under the grips of high level of violence, local Kashmiris had come to the aid of the stranded Yatirs, gave them shelter and sent them home safely. The killing of the Yatris goes against the grain of Kashmiri ethos of religious tolerance,” the activists said in a joint statement.

“We also call upon the government of India to immediately set up an independent enquiry into this tragic incident as it is not clear how this bus carrying a large number of Amarnath Yatris had no security cover and how it was able to travel around Kashmir during these difficult days without the knowledge of the authorities. It is necessary to identify the lapses in the security arrangements and establish the facts that led to this tragedy of the bus carrying pilgrims getting caught in a crossfire between the police and the militants. This is necessary to prevent any such tragedy in future,” they added.

The civil society members also urged the government to start a process of dialogue and consultation with all the stake holders that alone could isolate the elements propagating and resorting to violence and bring peace to a region devastated by unnecessary conflict for decades.

Prakash N. Shah, the President of Peoples’ Union of Civil Liberties, (PUCL) Gujarat chapter, Gautam Thaker, the General secretary of PUCL Gujarat, Dwarika Nath Rath, the Secretary of Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD) also condemned the dastardly terrorist attack on the Amarnath pilgrims and expressed their condolence to the families of bereaved.

They criticized the security lapses and security arrangements for the pilgrims and also said that “the attackers simply do not want to understand that what they do is tearing up the social fabric, also economic life line of people of Kashmir”.

“While official machinery is supposed to keep the control over the situation and punish the perpetrators of the heinous crime, we appeal to people to keep peace,” they added.

Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India, said that shooting at a bus carrying ordinary people on a pilgrimage shows utter contempt for human life and the fundamental principles of humanity. “Those behind this horrific assault should be found and punished,” he said.

The Amnesty also appealed to the Jammu and Kashmir authorities to protect all civilians and ensure that they are not put in danger, while upholding human rights law and standards. “They must guard against any attacks, including reprisal attacks, which could lead to more civilian casualties,” an Amnesty statement said.

Meanwhile Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSD) said it is deeply agonised by the dastardly incident in which seven precious lives are lost and many more injured. “Our heart goes out to the victims of this senseless violence which plays with the lives of citizens for political gains. The usual condemnations have become a meaningless ritual. But we really feel aggrieved by the loss of precious lives who had come here for a journey of faith The members appeal Shri Amarnath Shrine Board to provide maximum compensation to the families of those killed and injured,” it said

KCSD said in view of conflicting versions of this ghastly incident, “we demand an impartial investigation into these gruesome killings and put before Indian public the some points for consideration as to why a probe in the matter is indispensible”.

“That a bus carrying Shri Amarnath Yatris, all hailing from Gujarat, was attacked in South Kashmir in which seven Yatris have been killed and many others injured were travelling beyond the deadline prescribed for such travel. That in contravention of the rules and regulations, all the yatris in the bus were unregistered which was plying outside the security set-up for the purpose. it is strange that this 56 seater bus carrying as many unregistered yatris was allowed to proceed without any check or questioning. That recently, Kashmir police has caught hold of a Hindu boy, by the name of ‘Sandeep Sharma’in the same area. He is being passed as an accomplice of Bashir Lashkari, a militant, who was killed in an operation with security forces. Strangely Sandeep was caught alive when all other militants were killed. Are all these mere coincidences ,”the statement said.

Zamrooda Habib chairperson Kashmir Tehreek-e- Khawateen( KTK) while demanding a high level independent investigation to this tragic incident ,has expressed deep sorrow and grief over the killing of seven Amarnath Yatris most of them women guest tourists in Anantnag . She asked the honest probe to prove the cause of death by conducting the post mortem of deceased so that “we all can come to know whose bullets have caused the death of these innocent people and in this regard we also appeal the wounded yatris to tell the truth to bring the main culprits to justice because there are many apprehensions, Such kind of heart breaking incidents have taken place in past also, we cannot forget Chhattisinghpora incident where the men in uniform were involved and innocent people were held responsible and killed,” she said.

News Updated at : Thursday, July 13, 2017
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