People’s Tribunal to probe rights abuse

Mudasir Ali
Publish Date: Apr 6 2008 12:00PM

Srinagar, Apr 5: A human rights group in Kashmir has commissioned International People’s Tribunal to probe rights abuse and seek international intervention for resolution of Kashmir issue. 
 The tribunal titled ‘International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir’ has been set up by Public Commission on Human Rights, a constituent of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society here. The tribunal is a people’s court consisting of human right campaigners and lawyers.
 Announcing the tribunal, its convener Parveez Imroz said the tribunal will confine its probe to the period between November 2003, when the Indo-Pak ceasefire begun, and 2009, with supporting investigations related to the period between 1989 to 2003.
 “The idea of the tribunal was conceptualized two years ago and we will investigate the crimes committed by the state and troops in Kashmir,” said Imroz who is also a human rights lawyer. The tribunal will hold its investigations in 2008 and 2009.
 He said the tribunal would inquire into the military presence and governance in Kashmir and their impact on civil society, political economy, development, local government, media and judiciary. “It is an initiative to seek the attention of global civil society to investigate crime against humanity in Kashmir by India and to inform struggles of Kashmiris for human rights and justice,” Imroz said.
 The tribunal will involve the participation of survivors seeking justice, local communities and groups, experts from Kashmir and India and other places in south Asia and the international community.
 Speaking on the occasion, another convener of the tribunal Gautam Navlakha said, “The tribunal will be completely based on facts and reports asking people at global level to raise their voice in favor of Kashmiris who have been denied their rights. We will seek the attention of international communities towards the legitimate struggle going on in Kashmir,” Navlakha said.
 He said it was imperative to set up a people’s tribunal in Kashmir since justice was not available to the people from state government and New Delhi. “The normalcy claims made by state government and government of India in Kashmir is a sad joke as people have been denied justice for past 18 years. To break the silence and pressurize government of India to give democratic rights to Kashmiris, I as an Indian joined the tribunal,” said Navlakha, a noted human right activist.
 Terming the tribunal as a gigantic task, Navlakha said, “We want to convey to the outside world what has befallen people in J&K and what crimes India has committed in Kashmir. There can be no reconciliation without justice and the resolution of Kashmir dispute can be reached at through right to self determination,” Navlakha said.       
 Legal counsel for the tribunal, Advocate Mihir Desai who practices in the Mumbai High Court and the Supreme Court of India while speaking on the occasion said, “The gross abuse of human rights violation by state agencies in Kashmir for past 18 years has attracted me as a part of the tribunal.”
 Desai claimed that to deal with any kind of situation normal criminal laws are always enough. “Special and draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Power Act, Disturbed Area Act were invoked in J&K only to subjugate entire population and suppress their voices. Lack of accountability and impunity given to the perpetrators through the draconian laws also attracted my attention to join the tribunal,” said Desai.
 He claimed that in Naxalite hit Chattisgarh few thousands paramilitary troops have been deployed to confront 5000 to 6000 Naxalite. “In Kashmir authorities accept the presence of only 450 militants but more than six lakh troops have been deployed which in itself is a grave human rights abuse,” Desai said.
 He said the tribunal would also help them to understand the response of judiciary and other institutions like State Human Rights Commission to the HR abuses in Kashmir. “Most of these institutions have failed in Kashmir despite the fact that they have power to respond. We will try to understand what was the cause of their failure,” Desai said, adding the tribunal will try to understand the legal significance of the demands of the Kashmiris.
 Noted human rights activist and anthropologist Dr Angana Chatterjee said who is another convener of the tribunal said, “We call upon the international community to join us in investigating India’s record in Kashmir. We seek accountability to the HR abuses in Kashmir under the provision of constitution of J&K, India and international laws and conventions and insist upon justice and right to self determination to Kashmiri people,” Angana said.
 She said India was arguing for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. “It should be incumbent for any nation seeking place in UN to prove its human rights situation and welfare of people. On one hand India claims to be the largest democracy in India and on the other it functions as occupational power in Kashmir,” Angana said.
 She said, “The tribunal will examine the militaristic violence on part of state institutions and conditions of injustice.” Parvez Imroz said on completion the tribunal would invite renowned personalities to constitute a council of justice to deliberate on the tribunal findings. “The findings and recommendations will be presented at public hearing in Kashmir and subsequently to the international communities to seek their intervention,” Imroz said.

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