Kashmir separatists, common man welcome Amnesty report

March 21st, 2011 - 4:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, March 21 (IANS) The Amnesty International report on Jammu and Kashmir’s Public Safety Act (PSA) that has come down heavily on India and termed the act “a lawless law” has been welcomed both by the separatists and the common man in Kashmir.

Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of the breakaway Hurriyat group, said: “We will wholeheartedly support and welcome the report.

“We are thankful to any organization that points out atrocities being committed on Kashmiris by India. Amnesty is an international organization and we welcome its report. We thank Amnesty from the core of our heart for raising their voice against human rights violations in Kashmir,” Geelani added.

The hardline separatist leader hoped the world would take notice of the points raised by Amnesty.

“Detentions under the PSA are administrative detentions without any charge sheet and trial. This is criminalization of dissent in Kashmir and punishing people for years without trial,” Parvez Imroze, chairman of the Coalition for Civil Society told IANS.

“It is to undermine the criminal justice system. The report is a welcome step and we have to see whether it makes any difference to the detainees and the civil society whose members have also been detained under the PSA,” he added.

Arshad Andrabi, the brother of local lawyer and rights activist Jaleel Andrabi, who was killed here allegedly by the security forces in 1996, differed.

“I don’t believe the report will make any difference on the ground. After the extra judicial murder of my brother in March 1996, the government has not still formally sought the extradition of the army major who killed my brother and is now hiding in the US,” he said.

Coming down heavily on India for alleged rights violations in terror-riven Jammu and Kashmir, Amnesty International Monday said the PSA should be revoked in the state. The Amnesty report - the first on Jammu and Kashmir since 2000 - has termed the PSA a “lawless law”.

“We strongly advocate abrogation of PSA as it provides immunity to troopers and officials involved in rights violations,” Ramesh Gopalakrishnan, researcher Asia-Pacific Programme, and Bikramjeet Batra, campaigner India, Asia-Pacific Programme, jointly told reporters.

The report, released at a function at the Grand Mumtaz Hotel here, documents how the authorities are using the act to detain people for years at a time, without trial, “depriving them of basic human rights otherwise provided under Indian law”.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, said: “The International Red Cross had previously shown its concern. Amnesty should use its good offices and prevail upon India to stop rights violations in Kashmir. The report corroborates our stand that Kashmir has been turned into a police state.”

Muhammad Yasin Malik, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), said: “Indian civil society should play a role now.”

Shabir Shah, senior separatist leader and chairman of Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), said: “The United Nations should also be allowed to visit Kashmir so that they see the real face of India.”

Abdul Gani Bhat, former chairman and the spokesperson of the moderate Hurriyat group headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq told IANS: “I wish the collective global conscience could exhibit a deeper sense of responsibility they owe to the human rights violations in Kashmir.”

The common man here felt the Amnesty report would definitely ease up tensions as many youth, especially those involved in last year’s summer unrest in the Kashmir Valley, are still wanted by the security forces.

“The majority of youth arrested for stone-pelting here last year have been booked under the PSA. The PSA is a hanging sword in Kashmir. If this is withdrawn, we would heave a sight of relief,” said Manzoor Ahmad, 53, a parent.

Many locals wanted Amnesty to also focus on the deaths of 110 civilians in last summer’s unrest.

“The report should have also focused on the deaths of the civilians in last year’s summer unrest,” said Mehraj-ud-Din, a fruit-seller here.

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