Armed groups in J-K must cease targeting civilians: Amnesty International

JK Bank

By News Desk | Srinagar

Amnesty International (AI), in a statement on Sunday, said that the armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir must immediately cease attacks that directly or indiscriminately cause casualties among the general population.

“Such attacks demonstrate contempt for the fundamental principles of humanity. Local journalists and civil society groups have told Amnesty International that the number of civilian deaths seem to have increased since the beginning of 2013,” the statement said.

It added that on 19 March, 18-year-old, Suhail Ahmad Sofi, a resident of Sopore in northern Kashmir was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen. Armed groups, the statement said, have targeted members of the general population in the state on several occasions in 2013.

“According to eyewitnesses and local journalists, Suhail Ahmad Sofi was sitting with a friend near a local mosque when the gunmen opened fire on them. The Jammu and Kashmir police said that Suhail took shelter in the mosque, but one of the gunmen pursued him inside and shot him five times, killing him instantly. The police have claimed the gunmen could be members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an armed group active in Kashmir. The group has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the attack, and no arrests have been made yet,” the AI said, referring to the killing.

Referring to other killings, it said that on 9 March, unidentified gunmen, apparently belonging to an armed group, killed Bashir Ahmad Gania, in Tangmarg, Varmul district and on 13 March, another three people were killed when members of an unidentified armed group attacked Indian  forces in Srinagar.

Making a reference to the elected Sarpanches (local government officials),  the AI said that on 24 February, suspected members of an armed group killed Javed Ahmed Wani, a sarpanch in Kreeri in Varmul district.

The statement said that the Amnesty International has steadfastly opposed both human rights abuses committed by armed groups and human rights violations committed by Indian forces and the police in the state. “The authorities must investigate all human rights violations and abuses promptly, effectively and transparently and bring the perpetrators to justice in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards,” demanded the AI.

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