Amnesty to focus on unrest killings
AFSPA Must Be Repealed, Not Amended: Batra
Srinagar, Mar 26: After highlighting human rights violations in Kashmir under Public Safety Act, the international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, Saturday said the organization would focus on other issues including killings and enforced disappearances in the Valley.
Calling for revocation of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, Amnesty said it would, meanwhile, “continue pressurizing” government of India and state government to repeal PSA from the state.
“We are trying to keep alive human rights issue in the state by taking up individual cases. The idea is simply to pressurize state government and government of India and make them accountable,” said visiting AI member, Bikramjeet Batra while addressing a seminar, ‘Position of Human Rights in J&K vis-à-vis Changing World Scenario,’ organized by High Court Bar Association here.
Batra said the AI team met many political organizations, Bar members, and families of victims (of last summer unrest) during their ongoing visit to the Valley and took note of the petition filed by JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik in the High Court seeking registration of cases into last year killings.
“This is one aspect where we will be focusing. We can take information from here to people around the world so that they can understand the human rights situation in Kashmir. There is little progress on the investigation or registration of cases (about last year killings.) We met chairman SHRC, Justice Bashir-ud-din, who is probing 17 killings. We have seen that in some killings, cases were registered against the persons killed,” Batra told Greater Kashmir on the sidelines of seminar.
The Amnesty, Batra said would continue to document HR situation in Kashmir. “We started with PSA and we will follow on the innocent killings that took place last year.”
The AI team led by its south Asia Director Madhu Malhotra and members Batra and Ramesh Gopalakrishnan arrived here earlier this week and released a damning report on the PSA.
The report created furore in the state Assembly, which is in its Budget session, forcing the Chief Minister to come up with a statement that his government would study the report and act on it. Later the team members visited different parts of the Valley to have an assessment of human right situation.
Responding to a question on demand from certain quarters about revocation of AFSPA from JK, Batra said the organization has a consistent stand. “Our position is that the law must be completely repealed, not amended,” he said.
On PSA, he said the Amnesty was focusing on large number of detention cases. “We will make a short film on PSA and show to the world what is happening in Kashmir. We will pressurize state government and government of India to repeal PSA.” He said the AI team tried to meet CM to see that the recommendations on PSA are implemented.
Earlier Batra said the PSA is used by the government to “disable and choke political and other leadership in Kashmir.” He termed as “shocking” the detention of Bar President, Mian Abdul Qayoom and its General Secretary under the law (PSA) they were fighting against. The Bar Association, Batra said is an “excellent example” of good work in Kashmir. “The High Court Bar Association is an old ally of Amnesty and is providing information on different subjects.”
Speaking on the occasion, noted human rights lawyer, Parveez Imroz said there was a need to find ways to reach out to international human rights institutions about situation in Kashmir.
“It is a challenge for us to engage international organizations. We will have to go beyond rhetoric,” Imroz said. The Kashmir Bar Association, Imroz suggested should engage with its counter associations in South Asian to take Kashmir situation to outside world.
Addressing the seminar, noted lawyer, Zaffar Shah said a united front for seeking solution to Kashmir problem would be a great service to the sacrifices given by Kashmiris.
Reacting to some observations made about denial of justice by government in different cases, Shah, who is an amicus curie, said “The battle for freedom is not fought in courts. This war is fought outside legal system. Laws are for status quo. This struggle is to change the status quo. We need to come forward with suggestions to leadership on different fronts.”
He said the conflict was a great opportunity for young lawyers and individuals to grow and develop. “Since we are living in a conflict zone, it provides opportunity for us,” he said. Shah said Kashmir is full of political, economical and social problems. “It pains to see that army is trying to get into our social life. We need to unite with the forces who are struggling to address these issues.”
Former Bar president, Nazir Ahmad Ronga, said despite “acknowledgement by New Delhi that Kashmir is a political problem which needs a solution, it continues to be in a denial mood.” About arrests in Kashmir, he said minors are being booked under PSA. “Peace has been disturbed because Kashmir remains unsettled,” Ronga said.
Advocate Mir Hafizullah said extradition of army Major Avtar Singh was not big task for government of India. “They have given sanction for his prosecution. They are not extraditing him because it will open a Pandora box,” he said.
Others who spoke on the occasion include advocate Majid Jehangir, advocate Bashir Ahmad Bashir and advocate Mufti Meraj-ud-din.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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