Ravi Kiran Jain, President
Dr. V. Suresh, General Secretary
PUCL strongly condemns the recent killing of 7 pilgrims from Gujarat and Maharashtra near Anantnag on the Jammu-Srinagar highway by armed militants who shot at the bus they were travelling in. The killings of unarmed civilians, returning from a pilgrimage to the holy site of Amarnath can in no way be justified or accepted. PUCL expresses its grief over the killings and extends its condolences to the families of those killed and wishes speedy recovery of those who were injured during the attack.
What stands out is the timing and the fact that the targets were chosen so as to divide the communities further along communal lines, both in the valley and also in the rest of India. It is a tribute to the people of the Valley as also elsewhere in India, that the intention of the killers was not achieved. Public opinion inside the valley and outside overwhelmingly condemned the killings. Spontaneously, many groups, both inside the valley as also outside both opposed the killings and also called upon all sections to maintain peace and communal harmony.
While PUCL firmly condemns the shooting incident and the killings and acknowledges the constitutional duty and responsibility cast on the Governments to protect the life of all people, PUCL nevertheless asserts that all counter-measures adopted by the Government should adhere strictly to the rule of law, including the core principles of criminal and constitutional law and the specific standards and obligations of international human rights law, and, where applicable, humanitarian law. It should be noted that these principles, standards and obligations, as constantly affirmed by the Supreme Court, define the boundaries of permissible and legitimate State action against extremism and terrorism.
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. PUCL hopes that the State and Central government will not engage in any knee jerk and reckless actions, and deal with the situation with the maturity, sense of balance and farsightedness it demands. They must not be swayed by impulsive calls by some groups and individuals for brutal retribution, which could lead to further alienation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. PUCL also calls upon the Government of India to adopt a more conciliatory approach and create a congenial atmosphere in which to initiate, foster and encourage dialogue with and amongst all sections of Kashmir valley and all other stakeholders. That’s the only way peace can return to the valley.