PUDR strongly condemns the abduction and slaying of one constable and two Special Police Officers (SPOs) by unidentified militants in the Shopian district of Kashmir.The deceased identified as Nisar Ahmad Dhobi (aged 38), Firdous Ahmad Kuchey (aged 28) and Kulwant Singh (aged 35), were picked up from their homes in Batgund and Kapren villages on the morning of 21 September, by a group of militants. Half an hour later, their bodies were found in an orchard in the neighbouring village of Lamni Wangam, ridden with bullets. Unlike army personnel who reside in military camps, police and SPOs live and work locally which makes them vulnerable to attacks. In this case, the deceased were all residents of the respective villages from where they were abducted and none of them were on duty when they were picked up.While massive combing operations have been launched in the area, including search and cordon operations, seven police personnel have made public their decision to resign from the police force.
The incident, it must be noted, comes in the wake of heightened clashes over the past few months between the police and militant groups in Southern Kashmir and Shopian district,in particular. Between June 2018 and now, there have been several incidents of abduction of family members by the police and by the militants. From late August, the retaliatory pattern became even more evident, especially after the police picked up Asadullah Naikoo, father of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo. The militants abducted 11 relatives of policemen and released them only after the police released Asadullah.Late August also witnessed specific targeting of militant houses in Ashmipora and Nazneenpora by the army. On 17 September, the Hizbul Mujahideen threatened all police personnel and their families to ‘resign or die.’ However, the incident of 21 September is the first in which policemen have been abducted from their homes and then killed.
PUDR has long held that the situation in Kashmir qualifies for the application of the principles of humanitarian law. Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions that lays down norms for conduct of war by parties (both state and non-state) specifically prohibits acts of murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment, the taking of hostages and unfair trial in all cases of conflicts including those taking place within the boundaries of a sovereign state.The convention also describes rights and protections accorded to non-combatants and prohibits their targeting in conflict situations by both security forces and militants.
PUDR appeals to the militants to adhere to humanitarian norms and demands that the state forces desist from perpetrating actions which violate the fundamental rights of citizens.A militaristic approach cannot be used to deal with the situation in Kashmir and we call for a political solution and democratic resolution of the conflict.
Shahana Bhattacharya, Sharmila Purkayastha
24 September 2018