'We want to continue our engagement in Kashmir'
Srinagar, May 18: The 2-member Amnesty International team comprising Bikram J Batra and Ramesh Gopal Krishan, which is on 6-day Kashmir visit, Tuesday said that it wanted to continue its engagement in Kashmir to focus on various human right issues.
“We want to start from somewhere (in Kashmir) and we have initiated the process with preventive detention issue. Young children are detained under PSA in Kashmir,” Batra told reporters after meeting the JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik at Maisuma here. The team would be focusing on the preventive detention of political prisoners under Public Safety Act and the laws that allow such detention
“We first want to understand the issues that people want us to take up. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act is on our agenda. The probe into Shopian (rape and murder of two women) is also on the agenda but that will come later. Shopian incident is a big issue even now. The AI had repeatedly issued statements on AFSPA and we even asked the Government of India last year to repeal it. We also issued statement on Shopian case last year,” Batra added.
Before arriving in Kashmir, the AI team had sought a meeting with the union Home Minister but were denied.
“We sought an appointment with Union Home Ministry but there was no positive response. We even approached joint secretary (Home) but he responded by saying that you can send your report to us,” said Batra.
The AI member said Government (of India) did not allow them to visit Kashmir even this time. “We are Indian citizens. We don’t have to ask for permission from government (to visit Kashmir). But we had informed the government of India and state government about our visit,” said Batra. “AI had continuously tried to visit Kashmir in last 20 years but often our representatives were denied traveling documents,” he said.
The AI team has sought an appointment with the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah. “We are in touch with his private secretary and are hoping to get an appointment. “We will also be meeting top government officials including the Chief Secretary and top police authorities in coming days,” Batra said.
The team is scheduled to meet the families of the PSA victims, lawyers, journalists and civil society members during their stay in the Valley.
It is for the first time since armed insurgency broke out in Kashmir in 1989 that AI has visited the Valley to assess human rights situation.
In a response to a statement by the Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G), Syed Ali Geelani, who had expressed his reservation about their visit to Kashmir, Batra said. “We have utmost value for the human rights. Let people respond after we submit the report,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 18 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 18 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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