PAGD Writes to President: 'Punish Those Involved In Killings'

PAGD leaders address a presser in Srinagar | KO file photo by Abid Bhat

Srinagar- The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind to ensure that the rule of law prevails in Jammu and Kashmir and those "erring officials" involved in the killing of civilians in the Hyderpora encounter are brought to book and punished.

In a letter to the President that was issued to the media on Friday, PAGD president Farooq Abdullah said the tragic incident in Hyderpora has evoked enormous public anger.

"In this unfortunate incident three civilians got killed in suspicious circumstances. The incident calls for a time-bound judicial probe so that true facts are unravelled and brought in public domain," he said.

PAGD is the alliance of six mainstream political parties in Jammu an Kashmir, including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Abdullah, who heads the National Conference, said such unfortunate incidents widen the gulf between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the Government of India and, therefore, are to be avoided at any cost.

"We would remind Your Excellency that the administration of Jammu and Kashmir is being run in the name of Your Excellency by the Lt. Governor acting as an agent and, therefore an onerous responsibility is placed on Your Excellency to ensure that the rule of law prevails and the involved erring officials are brought to book and punished under law, he said.

He also raised the issue of the practice of taking away bodies of the victims of such incidents and depriving their families of the right to organise their burial in accordance with religious practices.

"In the unfortunate incident of Hyderpora also, the bodies of three civilians have been taken away by the security forces and reportedly buried 100 km away from their residences. Your Excellency, the right to decent burial is well recognised in the Constitution of India as well as in the international humanitarian law.

The dead bodies cannot be denied the right to burial under any circumstances including the so-called law and order problem. The bereaved families likewise also have a right to organise burial of the dead body in accordance with their religious practices, he wrote in the letter dated November 18.

The PAGD alleged that in the past few years such rights have been violated with impunity .

"In the present case these rights are being denied. We would request Your Excellency to intervene in the matter and ensure that the dead bodies are returned to their families so that they can perform their last rites in accordance with their respective religious practices, it said.

The matter is of grave concern and calls for an urgent action, Abdullah added.

The bodies of the two civilians -- Altaf Bhat and Mudasir Gul -- killed during Monday's encounter in Hyderpora area of the city were exhumed at Handwara late on Thursday and were handed over to the families. The bodies were buried here during the night after their last rites were performed by the families.

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