PRESS STATEMENT, JULY 8, 2010
End Politics of Control and Domination, Demilitarise Now !
The turbulence around the Shopian rape and murder case is yet to settle but Kashmir is on the boil again, caught in a vicious cycle of violence emanating from the killings by security forces of the stone-pelting dissenting teenagers who are refusing to live with the militarisation in the valley. While the number of deaths in the Valley has declined in the January-to-May period which has plunged from 1,183 in 2006 to 141 this year, the number still begs attention and explanation.
We are deeply, pained and anguished at these turns of events. We unequivocally condemn the extreme and heavy handed reactions of the paramilitary forces, namely CRPF, resulting in killing of nearly 18 people aged 17-22 years since June 12, 2010. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah himself has acknowledged that “the difficult thing is now to get the security forces to change their mindsets. They’re used to people coming at them with guns and therefore responding in kind. Now, people – at least a small section of youngsters – are coming at them with stones. And yet their mindset is still to respond with guns.” However, we feel the instances of violence, rape, encounters can’t be just dismissed as a mindset, it’s a culture – to kill with ease, without the need to explain, of impunity. It is time the central government realised that militarisation, there are approximately 5,00,000 security personnels in the valley, will never bring peace in the valley. It is shameful that such undemocratic incidents are occurring in independent India. We concerned citizens and social movements sincerely believe that the Government owes an explanation to the country and should come out with a white paper on the continued militarisation, consequent rights violations and associated financial burden that adversely affects society at large.
Like North East India, Jammu and Kashmir is under the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir ) Special Powers Act, 1990. From July 7th Army has been called to enforce complete curfew and conduct flag marches to quell all protest and dissent. This has outraged the people of Kashmir and us as well. It is distressing that media people are also not allowed free movement as a result there were no local dailies on July 8th. The media blockade and the soft power of media control sidelines all peaceful protests by civilians, and civilian protests using sticks and stones were fired on by the police and paramilitary forces causing deaths and injuries.
Political dialogue to address the needs, concerns and aspirations of civil society is the basis of a democratic society, and security forces should only be used to ensure the safety of citizens by maintaining law and order, and not to suppress dissent and protest. We therefore urge the Central and the State Governments to :
Immediately work out and announce a phased, time-bound demilitarisation plan to withdraw the Army from internal security duties, and use the political tools of dialogue and consultation with all concerned state and non-state actors to create an atmosphere for early return to normalcy.
Immediately institute independent and impartial inquiries into the killings, tortures, unlawful detentions, forced disappearances and other human rights violations perpetrated by security forces, by appointing retired judges of the Supreme Court and representatives of reputed human rights organisations. These inquiries should be time-bound, and Central and State governments should make public declarations to take transparent action to fix criminal liabilities and prosecute all those found guilty.
We are equally disappointed and condemn the complete lack of public outrage over such incidents in Kashmir. It is time the rest of India started seriously engaging with the Jammu and Kashmir and North East regions rather than leaving it to the State and Central governments to continue their rule with police-military force in the name of strategic interest. A struggle has to be waged to replace the politics of control and domination with that of self-determination and respect for the individual and community rights of the people as enshrined in the Constitution.
Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Maj. Gen. (Retd.) S G Vombatkere, P Chennaiah, Akhil Gogoi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Suniti S R, Rajendra Ravi, Mukta Srivastava, Vimal Bhai, Saraswati Kavula, Madhuresh Kumar