- Up to 30 innocent Kashmiris killed, several hundred injured as protesters seeking freedom from Indian rule ignore curfew, storm airbase near Srinagar, set police stations and vehicles on fire
- Pakistani FO summons Indian high commissioner, conveys Islamabad’s concerns over ‘extrajudicial killings’
- Indian official says Pakistan’s statements ‘reflect its continued attachment to terrorism’
India on Monday asked Pakistan to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs and issuing statements on the recent unrest in held Kashmir, as the death toll from the ongoing killing spree unleashed by Indian troops following the killing of freedom fighter Burhan Muzaffar Wani soared to 30, with two more Kashmiris, among those shot by forces during protests on Sunday, succumbing to their gunshot wounds.
Also on Monday several hundred protesters tried to storm an Indian Air Force base about 25 kilometres south of the capital Srinagar. The police said that the protesters were pushed back, but gave no information on casualties that may have occurred during the clashes. The protesters also set police stations and vehicles on fire.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office in Islamabad summoned Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Gautam Bambawale and conveyed Pakistan’s “serious concerns” over the recent killings of Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani and many other civilians by Indian military and paramilitary forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
“The foreign secretary (Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry) called in the Indian high commissioner this evening and conveyed Pakistan’s serious concerns over the recent killings ….,” said a statement released by the Foreign Office.
“The use of excessive force against innocent civilians protesting peacefully over extrajudicial killings, is deplorable and blatant violation of the right to life, right to freedom of expression and opinion, right to peaceful protest, right to peaceful assembly and other fundamental rights,” the communiqué quoted Chaudhry as saying.
The foreign secretary also called for a fair and transparent inquiry against individuals responsible for the killings, and stated that such brutal use of force was not acceptable under any circumstances.
“It was emphasised that oppressive measures cannot deter the valiant people of the Jammu and Kashmir from their demand of exercising their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions,” the statement detailed.
INDIA SNUBS PAKISTAN:
Reacting to the development, India ‘advised’ Pakistan to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs.
“We have seen statements from Pakistan on the situation in Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. They reflect Pakistan’s continued attachment to terrorism & its usage as an instrument of state policy,” Vikas Swarup, the spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, wrote on his official Twitter account.
“Pakistan is advised to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbours,” Swarup went on to say in his statement.
Swarup’s statement comes after Pakistan on Sunday condemned what it termed as the “extra-judicial killing” of separatist commander Burhan Wani and other civilians by government forces in India-held Kashmir (IHK).
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Sharif expressed shock over the killing of innocent civilians, while the Foreign Office (FO) expressed Pakistan’s concerns over the detention of Kashmiri leadership in IHK and called upon the Indian government to fulfill its human rights obligations as well as its commitments under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
TENSION SIMMERS IN VALLEY:
Demonstrations by Kashmiri protesters follow the killing on Friday of Burhan Wani, a 22-year-old commander of Kashmir’s largest militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, during a gun battle with Indian forces. More than 300 people, including over 100 security personnel, have been injured since.
Thousands again defied the curfew to take to the streets on Monday, the third day of deadly clashes between government forces and demonstrators angered by the killing of the popular freedom fighter.
Police in Srinagar said several hundred protesters tried to storm an Indian Air Force base about 25 kilometres south of the capital. “A few hundred protesters stormed the air force base,” a senior officer told a foreign media outfit, on the condition of anonymity.
“We do not know if firearms were used, but the protesters were pushed back,” he said, adding that there were no immediate reports of casualties.
As anger against security forces is at its height and many police stations and other locations have come under mob attacks, the police and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) have abandoned some of their camps at isolated places in south Kashmir.
A report from Pulwama said that a security forces’ camp being manned jointly by the counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) of the J&K Police and the CRPF in Litter area of the district was abandoned by them overnight. Some 800 additional CRPF personnel are being rushed to Kashmir in view of the prevailing situation, said official reports.
Reports received in Srinagar said that two more persons identified as Feroze Ahmed Mir (22) and Khursheed Ahmed Mir (38) were killed in southern Kulgam district.
A 13-year-old boy Asif was shot by forces in Zainapora area of Shopian district on Sunday. He died soon thereafter. A girl Yasmeena who was injured in shooting in Damhal Hanjipora area of neighbouring Kulgam district earlier also succumbed at Srinagar’s government-run SMHS hospital. On Sunday one police officer, Afroz Ahmed, drowned when his armoured vehicle was pushed into a river.
MEDICAL EMERGENCY AT HOSPITALS:
As the number of casualties received at various hospitals across the Valley has increased manifold, a medical emergency has been declared at these facilities and the authorities have asked the doctors and paramedical staff presently on leave to resume duties immediately.
Srinagar’s main government-run SMHS hospital had till Sunday evening received over 100 patients and most of them had sustained bullet or pellet injuries or were hit by teargas canisters or stones during clashes.
The Amnesty International has urged Indian authorities to ensure that people injured in firing by Indian forces have access to medical assistance, and medical professionals should have freedom to carry out their work without interference. The Amnesty International in a statement asked forces to not use live ammunition and pellet-guns on protesters.
HURRIYET CONFERENCE EXTENDS CALL FOR STRIKE:
Meanwhile, All-Parties Hurriyet Conference Chairman Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, in a joint statement issued in Srinagar on Monday, extended the joint call for the strike for another two days from tomorrow (Tuesday). They appealed to the international community to respect the freedom sentiments of people of Kashmir and play its role in settlement of the Kashmir dispute as per relevant resolution of the United Nations.