Re: Extrajudicial Killings of Civilians in Gool, Ramban District, Indian-Administered Kashmir
As concerned scholars, film makers, artists, writers and journalists, we write to condemn the extrajudicial killing of unarmed demonstrators by soldiers of the Indian paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF), in Ramban District, Indian-administered Kashmir on July 19, 2013. As both Kashmiri and international media reports have made clear, the BSF fired upon demonstrators who were exercising their legitimate right to protest an earlier incident: the beating of a local Imam and the desecration of the Qu’ran in a madrassa in the Gool area of Ramban district. Four people are confirmed dead and 43 have sustained bullet and pellet injuries.
Since 2008, Kashmir has been reeling under a new political environment marked by the violent repression of a non-violent uprising. The dissenting voices have been met with firing by Indian forces and the increasingly militarized police, mass arrests and torture, curfews, media-gags and internet blockage, often leading to a fresh cycle of protests and the disproportionate use of lethal force. The present incident adds to the plethora of continuing human right abuses. For instance, in the summer of 2010, more than 110 civilians were killed in street protests, which occurred in response to earlier incidents of extrajudicial killings. In not a single case has justice been delivered.
In this context of impunity, the killings of Gool, Ramban contribute to the unending series of events in which hundreds of thousands of Indian troops now blanketing Kashmir brutalize the local population, and systematically deny them their political and civil rights. For almost six decades now, Kashmir has suffered from the overwhelming deployment of armed military, paramilitary, and police personnel, who have routinely subjected the local population to human rights violations including torture, enforced disappearances, sexual abuse, illegal detention and disproportionate use of force on unarmed protesters. The killings at Gool are the direct consequence of this unyielding militarization—which some legitimately term an “occupation”—and show once again that it is in fact at the root of Kashmiri human and political suffering. They must therefore be located within the larger context of the denial of the right to self-determination to the Kashmiri people.
We are also aware that the Gool killings have been condemned by the Home Minister of India (who has ordered an enquiry) and the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, who has said that it is “unacceptable” to shoot at unarmed protesters and has promised justice. However, it is also true that perpetrators of similar incidents, such as the killing of protesters in 2008 and 2010 have not been punished and stay protected by special security laws. The condemnations and purported enquiries therefore come as a routine ceremonial gesture where denunciation is not followed by concrete justice delivery.
Human rights advocates continue to document the long term patterns of judicial and de facto immunity that protect Indian military personnel from prosecution for human rights violations and spawn a culture of impunity. The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, following his country mission to India in March 2012, also underlines that due to legal immunity offered to Indian armed forces under special national security laws, the legal sanction required for prosecuting perpetrators of human rights abuse is never granted by the Indian government. Also, it was recommended to India during its second Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council that “impunity for security forces accused of committing human rights violations” should be ended and that human rights violations should be “timely, effectively and independently investigated.” These are just some of the many examples of UN human rights bodies and procedures, including the UN Human Rights Committee and the Special Rapporteurs on women, human rights defenders and extrajudicial executions which have continually expressed concern over the impunity and lack of accountability for human rights abuse in Jammu and Kashmir.
In the case of the Ramban incident, justice must be done, but the Indian and state governments must also commit themselves to the resolution of the larger political problem of Kashmir .
For justice to be served in the Ramban incident, we ask:
1) The immediate removal from all field duties of all troops and their officers that were present during the Ramban incident.
2) An independent inquiry led by a credible civilian commission
3) That the perpetrators be brought to justice
4) An end to the media gag
These actions must be taken in the ongoing context of seeking a just resolution to the Kashmir issue. This includes:
1) The international community to assert pressure on the Indian state to acknowledge the rights of the Kashmiri people, and for international human rights organizations to take note of the structural state violence inflicted on the Kashmiri people.
2) A UN Commission of Inquiry that investigates all incidents of firing on unarmed protesters to date and all other cases of human rights violations
4) credible mechanisms for accountability and justice for human rights abuses over the past twenty- three years
5) reunification across the Line of Control
6) a political process that enables the people of Kashmir to determine their own political future and express political dissent without fear of government reprisal.
We urge you to act according to your mandate to initiate a peaceful and just solution to the conflict.
We can be contacted by email at email@example.com. Updates and future actions will be posted at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kashmir-letter-regarding-killing-of-civilians-by-Indian-forces/158854824306970?ref=hl
Wajahat Ahmad, entrepreneur and poet
Civil Rights Activist and Journalist, Delhi
Shahrukh Alam, The Patna Collective
Soniya Amin, social activist , Anantnag Kashmir
Khalid Anis Ansari
The Patna Collective
Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal
Co-chair Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy
Fayaz Ahmad Dar, Researcher based in Kashmir
Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Abhijit Dutta, writer, Singapore
Independent documentary film maker
Department of Sociology, University of Delhi
Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative, Delhi
Gowhar Geelani, writer, journalist (currently based in Srinagar)
Zoheb Hossain, Advocate practising in the Supreme Court of India
Nitasha Kaul, Writer and independent scholar, London
University of Pennsylvania
Assistant Professor of Persian Studies, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, Montreal
Amit Kumar, Research Scholar, Department of History, University of Delhi
Writer and anthropologist
Syed Zafar Mehdi, Journalist/Blogger, New Delhi
Shaheena Parveen, research student, Delhi
Nawaz Gul Qanungo, journalist
Trinity College Dublin
Vivek Raina, Co.Founder-Saariy Samav Akisey Razi Lamav(SSARL is a group of Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims who believe in a composite Kashmir and are working towards furtherance of collective understanding and well-being of all Kashmiris regardless of their religion, region, caste, class, gender or ethnicity.)
University of Washington
Prakash K Ray, Editor, bargad.org
Rahul Roy, New Delhi, film maker
S. Anand, Publisher, Navayana
Inder Salim, Artist from Kashmir, presently living in Delhi
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist and writer,
Raqs Media Collective, New Delhi
Manisha Sethi, academic and activist, Delhi
Ashley Tellis, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School. O P Jindal University
Mirza Waheed, novelist
Prime Minister of India
South Block, Gate No 6
New Delhi - 110 01, India