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PUCL, 2013

PUCL condemns shooting of 4 civilians in Ramban, Kashmir and demands independent judicial enquiry

22 July 2013

PUCL strongly condemns the shooting down by BSF personnel of 4 unarmed civilians in Gool area of Ramban district of Kashmir on 18th July, 2013. More than 40 civilians are said to have been injured, some seriously, in the BSF firing and action.

The incident allegedly occurred due to the desecration of a Muslim place of worship as also manhandling of a Muslim cleric by BSF soldiers. This led to a protest by unarmed local civilians before the BSF camp who were agitated over the desecration of religious place and demanded action against the BSF soldiers responsible for the act. To the contrary the BSF has issued a statement justifying the firing on the ground that the protestors were trying to storm the armoury and to seize arms and ammunition stored in the camp.

Amidst the claims and counter claims of locals and the BSF, there lies the reality that the protesting civilians were unarmed. The resort to firing by the BSF forces is therefore questionable and is indicative of total failure of counter-preventive measures to quell civilian, unarmed protests. It also raises the issue of the adequacy of training given to the BSF jawans to handle such incidents of collective, unarmed civilian protests. Such situations of confrontations should reasonably be anticipated considering the long history of civilian unrest and security forces action in Kashmir valley.

The Ramban firing incident once again highlights the sordid reality of an extreme sense of alienation, disaffection and hostility of local population against the Central forces. The Central and State Governments have done little to reduce the sense of estrangement amongst the local people through concrete, meaningful measures recognising the political aspirations of the local people. To the contrary justifying such firings only increases the sense of hostility and resentment of local people.

PUCL demands that an impartial judicial enquiry be initiated into the Ramban firings so that the truth behind the incidents can be brought to light. Internal enquiry by the BSF Special Director General, Dilip Trivedi, will hardly be sufficient to generate confidence that a fair enquiry and justice will be ensured in the firing incident.

PUCL once again reiterates that the problem of Jammu and Kashmir is a political problem and that any lasting solution can be reached only by finding political solutions agreeable to all concerned. Treating the entire issue as a problem of law and order is not only perverse and also short sighted but will only prolong the conflict timelessly.

Prof. Prabhakar Sinha, National President, PUCL
Dr. V. Suresh, National General Secretary, PUCL

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014