Excessive, Arbitrary Force Used on Kashmiri Demonstrators: Amnesty

SRINAGAR: Amnesty International (AI) has criticised the Indian government for using excessive and arbitrary force on Kashmiri demonstrators last year post July 8 killing of popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani.

“Security forces used arbitrary or excessive force against demonstrators on several occasions. In August, Shabir Ahmad Monga, a lecturer, was beaten to death by army soldiers,” said Amnesty in its annual report on human rights.

It also took at the Indian government for using “crude, colonial-era sedition law” to “silence government critics”.

“The killing of a leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen armed group in July sparked widespread protests. More than 80 people, mostly protesters, were killed in clashes and thousands injured. At least 14 people were killed and hundreds blinded by security forces’ use of pellet-firing shotguns, which are inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate,” said the report.

“The Jammu and Kashmir government imposed a curfew which lasted over two months. Private landline, mobile and internet service providers suspended their services for weeks on orders from state authorities. The communications shutdown undermined a range of human rights. Residents reported being unable to reach medical assistance in cases of emergencies.”

“In July, the state government prevented the publication of local newspapers in Kashmir for three days. In September, Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights defender, was arrested and detained for over two months on spurious grounds, a day after he was prevented from travelling to a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland. In October, the government ordered a Srinagar-based newspaper to cease printing and publication on vague grounds. Hundreds of people, including children, were placed in administrative detention. Dozens of schools were set on fire by unidentified people.” (CNS)

Free Speech In Universities Under Threat’

NEW DELHI: Clashes at Ramjas College here illustrate the growing threat to freedom of expression on Indian university campuses, Amnesty International India said on Wednesday.

Several people were injured in clashes between student groups at the college. Three journalists told Amnesty they were assaulted by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the RSS student wing.

On Tuesday, a seminar on ‘Cultures of Protest’ organised at the college was cancelled after members of the ABVP obstructed the event.

“Universities are supposed to be safe spaces for debate and discussion. But the events at Ramjas College are a shameful reminder of how intimidation and threats continue to restrict free speech on university campuses,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.

“Authorities need to protect academic freedom, which is crucial to the right to education. Delhi Police must ensure that students at universities can express their opinions without fear of repression by anyone.”

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