Since June 11, 11 innocent civilians have been killed by security forces in Kashmir in what can only be described as highly undemocratic and callous attitude of Indian establishment towards the people of Kashmir.
There has been continuous unrest since the Machil killings by the Indian Army in late April this year. The military had claimed that it had foiled an infiltration bid by killing three militants. Subsequent investigations revealed that the men killed by the Indian Army were the missing relatives of three families in Baramulla district. The exhumed bodies of these three are amongst the very few identified bodies out of more than 400 buried in the graveyard at Kalaroos in Kupwara. It was in protest against this cold blooded murder by the Army that people had again taken to streets on 11 June 2010. During this protest a class XII student was shot at and died. The police tried to cover it up as a murder by some unknown youth. This sparked more anger and protests but it did not deter the police and CRPF from opening fire on protesters time and again in the last 20 days consequently taking 11 lives in the prime of their youth and injuring many.
The deaths symbolize a continuing trail of oppression of people of Kashmir. It is a known fact that the pervasive military and paramilitary presence in Kashmir has generated much resentment amongst the people. Neither the state government nor the Indian Government has taken any steps to address their grievances. The current chief minister had made electoral promises of initiating dialogue with Indian state and Kashmir pro freedom leaders regarding autonomy and revocation of AFSPA but no steps have been taken thus far. The approach of Indian state has been highly militaristic, reinforced in the way recent protests have been dealt with. Firing on protesters has been rationalized by Home Secretary of India, G.K Pillai, for they indulged in stone pelting and defied curfew. Instead of recognizing the legitimate anger of people of Kashmir, Home Minister P. Chidambaram could find the hand of LeT and outside funding in the protests. It again underlines an unwillingness to accept the democratic aspirations of the people of Kashmir by branding them as ‘terrorists’ from outside Kashmir.
PUDR strongly condemns the disproportionate use of force and firing on protesters and reaffirms its solidarity with the struggle of people of Kashmir. PUDR demands an immediate independent inquiry into the killings of protestors to punish the guilty unlike the cover up in the Shopian rape and killings case last year. PUDR urges the Government to seriously exlore ways for a political solution to the conflict in Kashmir.
Moshumi Basu and Asish Gupta