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Deteriorating Human Rights Situation In Kashmir

KCC Concerned About Deteriorating Human Rights Situation In Kashmir

News Release /Communiqué de presse

KCC concerned about deteriorating human rights situation in Kashmir

Toronto, June 21, 2002 – The Kashmiri-Canadian Council (KCC) is concerned about the latest intensification of human rights abuses in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. More particularly, aggression against the Kashmiri leaders and political activists is very alarming.

Mr. Mushtaq A. Jeelani, Executive Director of the KCC, expressed his serious concern over the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the disputed State of Jammu and Kashmir. He said that escalation of India’s bloody repression is an attempt to silence the Kashmiri people demanding implementation of the UN resolutions. It has resulted in crackdowns, house-to-house searches; rape; disappearances; arbitrary detentions; custodial killings; extra-judicial executions; politically motivated carnage; looting and plunder, and extended curbs on political activities.

The Executive Director condemns in the strongest possible terms, as an act of repressive tactic, the arrest of Syed Ali Shah Gilani, former Chairman of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), his two sons-in-law and mistreatment of his family, including confiscation of his property. He reacted: “I unequivocally denounce this politically motivated arrest of a veteran Kashmiri leader, who has spent almost his entire life for the service of the Kashmiri people.”

The 72-year-old prominent leader of the Kashmiri people, a talented writer and orator, has spent 14 years in various Indian prisons for his vigorous opposition to India’s illegitimate rule in Jammu and Kashmir. Mr. Gilani was arrested on Sunday June 9 under the draconian “Prevention of terrorism Act” (POTA) and the “Public Safety Act” (PSA), in an early-morning raid on his home in Srinagar, and sent to Ranchi, India’s eastern province of Jharkhand – in a state of very poor health.

Mr. Jeelani said that there are already more than 3,000 Kashmiris languishing in various jails in different parts of India, including a large number of women and by every passing day the tally is increasing. Moreover, some of the detainees have been incarcerated for over a decade, e.g., Noor Muhammad Kalwal, 11 years; Bilal Ahmed, 8 years; Shaukat A. Bakshi, 12 years; Abdul Aziz Dar, 9 years; Saleem Zargar, 8 years; Muhammad Ayub Dar, Nazir Ahmad Sheikh, Mushtaq-u-Islam, Farooq Ahmad Khan and Bashir Ahmad Baht, 11 years each.

The case of Muhammad Ashraf Sahrai and Ashraf Laya, both of them in Hazaribah jail of Jharkhand, their lawyers, families or friends are not allowed to visit them. Mr. Sahrai, who had a paralysis attack there, and Mr. Laya, a kidney patient, both were denied proper medical care. Unfortunately, India’s judicial system could not help to authorise visitation of their lawyers and families or providence of appropriate medical care to the captives, as is required according to Indian law.

The situation of Shakeel Ahmed Bakshi, Hakeem Abdul Rasheed, Showkat Bakshi, Dr. Ghulam Mohammed Hubbi, Iqbal Gandroo and Sheikh Abdul Aziz is the worst, they are forced to strip and remain naked in their prison cells.

Mr. Jeelani said that the occupation forces have let loose a reign of terror in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and are making life of the Kashmiri people miserable.

The Executive Director recalled that there are more than 4,000 disappeared persons in Indian-occupied Kashmir and the number is rapidly rising, but, so far, no efforts have been made to trace these missing individuals or to prevent any further disappearances. The desperate parents of disappeared youths are still hoping miracles will bring back their loved ones. Mysterious disappearances is exacerbating by every passing day in Kashmir.

He underlined that the Special Operation group (SOG) of the Indian police is harassing and torturing innocent people on the pretext of “searches,” as unexpected barging into residential houses have become a matter of routine. Furthermore, New Delhi has given its troops a “licence to kill” anybody demanding the right of self-determination, in the name of the so-called encounters. The occupation forces are also involved in looting, rape, extortion and kidnapping, all with total impunity. The terror campaign is designed to muzzle the people demanding freedom from India’s occupation.

Mr. Jeelani said that the ongoing cross-border shelling across the ceasefire line is causing immense suffering to the people on both sides of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir and unfortunately the world community is not helping to resolve the real issue.

He emphasised that having failed to suppress the freedom struggle and dismantling the APHC, the widespread detention of leaders and political activists suggests India’s desperate attempts to chock the Kashmiri leaders’ voice and to turn things around for another sham election, which the APHC has declared that it will boycott.

The Executive Director underscored that Mr. Gilani is the third executive member of the APHC under arrest. On March 25, Mohammed Yasin Malik was arrested under the black law “POTA.” Last year Sheikh Abdul Aziz was arrested for his unambiguous demand for an end to Indian rule. On May 21, the fourth executive member Abdul Gani Lone was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Srinagar. This is a pattern that New Delhi has used for the past fifty-five years in Kashmir. Today, again, on the one hand it is encouraging the APHC into the so-called electoral process and on the other hand it is arresting and silencing almost all the leaders. While denouncing Mr. Gilani’ s arrest, the APHC called it India’s “negative approach” aimed at sabotaging international efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue through peaceful and tripartite negotiations – between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership.

He said that many astute observers believe that the kind of cruel harassment the Kashmiri leaders are put to indicates that India is overtly and covertly working to bring the legitimate leadership to its knees. But they also think that such tactics will backfire against India and will not discourage the freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people.

Mr. Jeelani said that since the tragic events of 9/11, India’s bloody repression has rapidly intensified in Kashmir. New Delhi is effectively using the cover of international coalition against terrorism to terrorise the innocent people of Kashmir.

The Executive Director said that Mr. Gilani’s arrest, once again, indicates New Delhi’s “utter disregard” for the fundamental rights and liberties of the people of Kashmir. The KCC demands immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Gilani and all other Kashmiri political leaders and activists.

Mr. Jeelani urges the international community to press India for immediate restoration of tripartite negotiations so as to achieve a peaceful political solution of the dispute and an end to the untold misery in Jammu and Kashmir.

-30-


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