December 18, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
New Delhi: Responding to the recent clashes between security forces and civilians near an encounter site in Pulwama, Kashmir, leading to the death of seven civilians, Asmita Basu, Programmes Director, Amnesty India said.
“A worrying pattern is emerging in Kashmir where security forces are increasingly using indiscriminate and excessive force against civilians. The killing of seven civilians on Saturday is an unfortunate addition to a series of alleged human rights violations by security forces in the state. Authorities must conduct a full and independent investigation into the incident, and those responsible must be prosecuted in a civilian court of law.”
“The intentional use of firearms should be done only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life, and law enforcement officials should distinguish between persons engaging in violence and peaceful demonstrators.”
According to media reports, on 15 December, seven civilians were killed and many more injured when security forces opened fire on residents trying to disrupt a joint operation launched by the army and the police in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district in which three militants and a soldier died. The killing of civilians in the village of Sirnoo triggered several protests in Pulwama where people blocked roads at several places. Internet services were suspended in central and south Kashmir amid concerns that protests could spill into other areas.
In May 2018, five civilians were killed and many injured in protests after security forces killed five militants in Shopian district of south Kashmir. Seven civilians were killed in Kulgam in October, in an explosion at the site of an encounter between militants and security forces.
Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most militarized regions in the world. The abusive Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act prevents security force personnel from being prosecuted in civilian courts without official permission from the central government. This permission is virtually never granted.