ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday deplored the excessive and unlawful force used against innocent people in Indian-administered Kashmir where violence continued unabated for a second day in the disputed Himalayan region, leaving at least 18 people dead.
“It is deplorable that excessive and unlawful force was used against the civilians who were protesting against the killing of Burhan Wani,” said Nawaz in a statement.
Thousands of residents of the disputed region are defying a government-imposed curfew to take to the streets in protest against the killing of separatist leader Burhan Wani. The 22-year-old alleged commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen was killed along with two other comrades during a brief gun battle with government forces on Friday.
Nawaz expressed his deep shock over the killing of Wani and other civilians. The oppressive measures adopted by Indian forces cannot deter the people of Jammu and Kashmir from demanding their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.
Earlier, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria called the killings in Kashmir ‘deplorable and condemnable’. Such killings are a “violation of fundamental human rights of Kashmiris”, he said in a statement.
Zakaria added that Pakistan was seriously concerned over the detention of Kashmiri leaders by Indian forces, and called upon the Indian government to fulfil its human rights obligations, as well as its commitments under the UN resolutions.
“Pakistan reiterates that the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is only possible through realisation of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, as per the UNSC resolutions, through a fair and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices.”
Toll rises to 18
Protesters and government forces in Indian-administered Kashmir continued on Sunday as anger over the death of Wani boiled over, with 18 people killed in some of the worst civilian unrest to hit the region since 2010.
Another 200 people, including 96 security personnel have been wounded in the violence, many of them civilian protesters who were hit when Indian forces fired tear gas canisters and live ammunition on Saturday.
Among the 18 dead was Feroz Ahmad, a policeman who drowned when angry protesters pushed his armoured vehicle into a river in the southern district of Sangam on Sunday, a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Irfan Ahmad Malik, an 18-year-old who was critically injured in clashes with security forces Sunday morning at Newa in Pulwama succumbed to his injuries during treatment, Times of India reported. Another unidentified person who was critically injured in Pulwama also expired.
The state government, which has also cut off internet and mobile phone networks to try to stop the protests spreading, called for calm on Sunday. “They [protesters] should not take their protests to a level where a man holding a gun is forced to open fire,” said spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar.
There were also reports of security forces attacking hospitals and ambulances treating the wounded.
“Attacking hospitals and ambulances is a crime under the international humanitarian law and Indian armed forces have been repeatedly accused of this crime in Kashmir,” said the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a rights group, in a statement.
Police say protesters have set police stations on fire and thrown rocks at army camps in the south of the restive region. It is the worst civilian violence to hit the disputed region since 2010, when mass protests broke out against Indian rule.
Wani reportedly joined the HM rebel group at the age of just 15, and was viewed as a hero by many in Kashmir. The state’s former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, tweeted after his death that he had become the “new icon of Kashmir’s disaffected”.
Witnesses said tens of thousands attended his funeral on Saturday despite the curfew, chanting independence slogans and firing pistol shots in his honour.
Amarnath yatra suspended
The Amarnath yatra (pilgrimage) remained suspended for the second consecutive day on Sunday from Jammu owing to violence in the valley with several pilgrims stranded, The Hindu reported.
“The yatra is suspended. No fresh batch of pilgrims has been sent from Jammu,” Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Simrandeep Singh, said. He, however, said the yatra from the base camps in Kashmir is on. The yatra was suspended from Jammu on Saturday following violence after Wani’s killing. On Sunday, some pilgrims who were stranded were escorted to safety, The Times of India reported.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2016.