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Amid continued killings, Kashmiri separatist leaders write to the UN for intervention

Srinagar: A youth, Tanveer Ahmad, was killed after Army allegedly opened fire in central Kashmir’s Beerwah town in Budgam district here on Friday. Police lodged First Information Report (FIR) against Army over the killing of the youth. Thousands of people participated in Ahmad’s funeral prayers.

Twenty-two year old Ahmad, a tailor by profession and a resident of Arwah village in Budgam, was killed after Army reportedly opened fire on protesters during clashes in the town. Police and Army share conflicting reports with respect to the incident. While police in a statement here said that Army personnel opened fire after they mistook fire cracker sound for a grenade blast, Army stated that they opened fire after some stone-pelters tried to snatch weapons from the soldiers.

A police spokesperson said, “As per initial information received today an Army foot patrol was returning to its camp and near Beerwah some miscreants pelted stones on it. Someone among these miscreants also hurled a fire cracker towards the Army men. Because of the bang the Army men thought a grenade was hurled and they retaliated. Two persons identified as Tanveer Ahmed Pala and Mohammed Ibrahim Wani were injured. Among them Tanveer succumbed to his injuries while Ibrahim is stable.”

An Army spokesperson, however, said, “An Army patrol was subjected to heavy stone pelting by a mob in Kondur village near Beerwah town at 1:15 pm. In no time, the numbers swelled and the intensity of stone pelting increased. Some stone-pelters tried to close in with the patrol and snatch weapons from the soldiers. Two persons were reportedly injured when troops opened fired.  One of the injured, however, later succumbed to his injuries.”

Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) president and MLA Khansahib Hakim Mohammad Yasin, in a statement here termed it a target killing.

A day earlier, Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) General Secretary Nahida Nasreen, said in a statement here on July 20 that the security forces including Army, BSF, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police should be declared “as terrorist forces at international level as their only aim is to kill, maim and oppress the innocent people of Kashmir. They use extreme force against the Kashmiris whenever they get a chance and don’t even take into consideration whether the person, who is being killed, beaten or jailed, is a man, woman, child or an elderly.” Nasreen added that on July 20 afternoon a 12-year-old girl was crushed under the vehicle by these forces in Zainapora-Shopian in south Kashmir. “What is more ironic is that people who protested against this cold-blooded murder were dealt with extreme force and more than 35 civilians were injured.”

Protests erupted after the news about the death of the second standard student, Arooba, spread in Aglar village of Zainapora in Shopian and security forces lobbed teargas shells to disperse the protesters. With the result, several people sustained injuries. Police however, arrested the Army driver and an FIR number 41/2017 under section 279, 304 (A) was also filed.

Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed across the Kashmir Valley after joint separatist leadership including Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik had appealed to people to march towards the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)office in Sonawar-Srinagar to organise a sit-in. All roads leading to UNMOGIP office here were sealed and restrictions on movement were imposed in several parts of the city. As markets presented a deserted look, commercial establishments remained closed and public transport went off the roads. Train services too were suspended and the Friday congregational prayers were not allowed at the historic Jama Masjid here for the fifth consecutive week. Even separatists including chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat were placed under house arrest or detained to thwart the proposed programme. JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik was detained (July 21) after he tried to march towards the UNMOGIP office. Malik had gone into hiding (July 20) to prevent his arrest.

Strongly condemning the state government for not allowing them to hold a sit-in protest outside UNMOGIP office in Srinagar, the joint separatist leadership in a statement here on Friday said that the memorandum was mailed to the UNMOGIP office in Srinagar and to the UN headquarters in New York.

Some of the contents of the memorandum addressed to the Secretary General of United Nations Antonio Guterres read, “The people of Kashmir for the past seven decades are in a struggle for the exercise of their right to self-determination accrued to them under United Nations Charter and the resolutions passed by UN Security Council on Kashmir Dispute and having given and giving huge sacrifices in terms of life, property and what not for the achievement of this right. However, to deny them their legitimate right, Kashmir is being ruled by the dint of military power, aspirations of the people are being trampled under the jack-boots and their rights usurped by the state’s repressive machinery by using all possible means of suppression and coercion. The Government of India has waged a war against the unarmed civilian population of Jammu and Kashmir. Senior Ministers and Army Generals of India including the chief of Army staff have openly admitted that they are fighting a dirty war in Kashmir. Relentless killing of youth and civilians arbitrary arrests and harassment of young boys and subjecting them to torture, imposition of curfews and restrictions, raids and vandalizing of homes and persecution and caging of separatist leadership by the forces and police who enjoy unbridled power and zero accountability has become a routine affair in Kashmir. The youth of the valley are being specifically targeted and killed on one pretext or other by the Indian forces and police leading to a systematic extermination of our generation next. This is a matter of serious concern for us. Even today as we write, one youth Tanveer Ahmed, a tailor by profession, of Arwah village, was shot dead by the Indian Army when people were protesting the random thrashing of vendors by the Army in that area. Tanveer was shot at in the head. How long are we helplessly going to watch our young boys being sent to their graves while the world watches silently?”

The memorandum further said, “during 2016 uprising, 152 civilians were put to death, scores of persons deprived of their vision either completely or partially by pellet firing, hundreds of youth arrested and thousands injured by the Indian government forces in Kashmir. During 2017, till this date – 55 civilians have been killed and dozens injured by bullets and pellets on the streets of Kashmir and the saga of repression continues. Even the Home Ministry of India has admitted in the Indian Parliament the civilian killing of 112 in 2010, 85 in 2016 and 21 in 2017. It has also admitted the injuries to civilian persons as 1047 in 2010, 8932 in 2016 and 107 in 2017. It has also admitted that 12650 persons were either arrested or put behind the bars under the infamous PSA (Public Safety Act).”

The memorandum added that the issue of Kashmir “is primarily about the people of Kashmir and their right to self-determination. Our struggle is rooted in a quest for justice and dignity. We are victims of sustained aggression from a state which claims to be democratic but which uses primarily undemocratic ways to extinguish our right to self-determination.”

Towards the end, the memorandum appealed to all the member-nations of United Nations to take serious note of the prevailing situation of the grotesque abuse of human rights in Kashmir and a war-like situation between the armies of India and Pakistan along the Line of Control in Kashmir, to come forward at this most critical juncture for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and play an effective role to end atrocities and suppression of Kashmiris, especially the systematic killing ofthe youth.

The memorandum further said, “In present day world wars do not resolve issues, nor does repression. Dialogue and serious engagement are the means to be employed to move forward towards resolution. We appeal to the world body, where our dispute is pending for the last seven decades to honor its commitment as well as ethical responsibility to address the dispute to find a just and acceptable resolution of it, in keeping with the aspirations of the people of this territory.”

Interestingly, National Conference patron and Member of Parliament Dr. Farooq Abdullah in New Delhi on July 21 said that India should approach third parties, such as the United States and China, to mediate on the Kashmir issue. Abdullah said India has so many allies across the globe, which can be approached for settling the Kashmir issue to act as a mediator between the two countries. Welcoming the statement senior PDP leader Sartaj Madni said, “Happy if he (Farooq Abdullah) is asking for talks with Pakistan. If you want to resolve Kashmir issue there is no other way.” However, Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Nirmal Singh demanding an apology from Dr. Abdullah said, “I want to tell him when he was chief minister, he talked of attacking Pakistan.” 

Meanwhile, Geelani here on July 20 alleged that some “unseen and mysterious forces were desperate to create chaos in Jammu and Kashmir. Our movement is indigenous and has nothing to do with organizations with global agenda that are slaying innocents and desperate to turn Muslim world into wreckage.”

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