Kashmir Rights Body Asks Competing Parties to Respect Int’l Law 

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Srinagar: Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a human rights group here on Friday asked all parties involved in the armed conflict to abide by principles of the International Humanitarian Law during their combat operations.

“Since last many years Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has tried to impress upon the government of India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri armed insurgent groups to adhere to the principles of the International Humanitarian Law during their combat operations in Jammu and Kashmir”, CCS said in a statement.

“In the recent few months there have been huge number of extrajudicial killings by the Indian armed forces and an indiscriminate use of force against the civilians. Also the Indian state has resorted to tactics of collective punishment on the civilian population for providing support to the armed insurgents. Cordon and search operations, widespread torture and beatings to the civilians, using civilians as human shields, preventing the ambulances to ferry the injured to the hospitals, ransacking and vandalization of civilian properties, attacks on college premises, banning of internet etc are some of the allegations against the Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police”, the statement read.

“On the other hand, armed insurgents have been accused of killing workers of the political parties, attacks on banks, throwing of grenades and attacking the armed forces at the public places, ransacking of the houses of police personnel and threatening their family members and killing of a soldier on leave after abduction”, CCS said.

“Also there have been news reports about the beheading of the two Indian army personnel in Poonch district by Pakistani army deployed along the Ceasefire Line (defacto border) and the killings of civilians due to border skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani army”.

“It is in this context JKCCS would like to reiterate its demand for insurgent groups and Indian armed forces involved in the Jammu and Kashmir armed conflict, which according to our understanding is an international armed conflict, and all the parties involved in the hostilities must always abide by principles of the International Humanitarian Law”, CCS said.

India and Pakistan are signatories to Geneva Conventions and other International humanitarian instruments, which regulate conduct of combat in all conflict situations.

United Jehad Council (UJC), the umbrella organization of all the insurgent groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir, besides having its own Code of Conduct has on various occasions assured the people of Jammu and Kashmir that it believes in abiding by the four covenants of the Geneva Conventions. More clearly it was in October 2007, while signing the Unilateral Declaration on the Ban of use of landmines, the UJC reiterated its commitment to abide by all four covenants of Geneva Conventions.

Despite all the public commitments by India and Kashmiri insurgent groups, the people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to witness loss of civilian lives, destruction of their property and denial of their civil and political rights, it said.

“There have been consistent media reports in the last few months about the escalation in the direct hostilities between the state and non-state forces. Amid the obvious political simmer, and reported ‘prospect of hot summer’ coupled with many recent civilian killings, we as a civil society organisation feel duty-bound to remind the state as well as non-state actors of their moral/legal/religious obligations towards people”.

“We would like to remind India, Pakistan and the UJC in the context of continuing armed conflict, about their responsibilities in protecting civilian lives, property and civil rights”.

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