Amnesty calls for fair probe into Handwara killings

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Srinagar: Authorities must conduct a full and independent criminal investigation into the killing of protesters in firing by Army personnel in Handwara, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

“Those responsible must be prosecuted in a civilian court of law,” Amnesty International said in a statement issued here to GNS.

The right’s group said the incident of alleged sexual assault against a teenage girl by a soldier, which is believed to have led to the protests, must also be promptly investigated.

 “This is not the first time that security forces have opened fire on protesters. Reports that the Army used excessive force must be investigated,” it said.

“Firearms should be used intentionally only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life, and law enforcement officials should distinguish between persons engaging in violence and peaceful demonstrators.”

On 12 April, Army personnel opened fire on the protesters and one youth died immediately while another one and a woman died, succumbing to their injuries. Two other people who were shot at are still in hospital.

 “There were hundreds of protesters. They were demanding the arrest of the army man,” an eyewitness Zulkarnain Banday was quoted in the statement by the amnesty.

The J&K police have registered a criminal case. The Army has ordered an inquiry into the firing. It stated that it had found video evidence that the schoolgirl had not been assaulted, and said in an official statement, “The Army regrets the loss of life. The matter is being investigated. Anybody found guilty shall be dealt with severely as per law.”

At least one other person has been killed in clashes that have subsequently broken out between the police and protesters across the state.

 “The state government must ensure that anyone found responsible of using excessive force is brought to book in a civilian court,” the amnesty international added.

 

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