Srinagar, January 26, 2013 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, Hurriyet leaders and civil society while welcoming Justice JS Verma committee’s recommendations for review of the draconian law, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), have asked India to act on the proposal forthwith.
The veteran Kashmiri Hurriyet leader, Syed Ali Gilani, in a statement issued in Srinagar hailed the recommendations of the penal, terming them as appropriate and justified. He said that all the personnel of all armed forces, including military, paramilitary and police, operating in Jammu and Kashmir were involved in hundreds of incidents of sexual assaults on women and gang rapes.
“The authorities at all levels have been ignoring calls for free and fair trials of those involved in these heinous crimes,” he said, reiterating the demand for investigation in all these cases by some international agency.
The veteran leader deplored that instead of taking punitive action against the personnel of armed forces involved in the crimes against women in the occupied territory, the government of India was awarding them promotions and cash rewards. He also recalled the statement of former Indian Home Minister, L K Advani, wherein he had stated that the forces deployed in Kashmir could not be punished, as it would demoralize them.
Syed Ali Gilani said that such statements, emanating from the person who was demanding capital punishment to rapists in India, had always encouraged the armed forces to indulge in crimes against women in occupied Kashmir.
He added that the crimes against women and other human rights abuses would continue to take place till Indian troops were present in occupied Kashmir, calling for withdrawal of the troops from the territory. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik, said that there was no room for black laws like AFSPA in the occupied territory.
The members of Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies (KCSDS), a civil society group, talking to media men in Srinagar appreciated the recommendations of the panel and called for repeal of the AFSPA from the territory forthwith.
The KCSDS members demanded that there should be an equitable law to treat the people. “Any person, whether he is a civilian or uniformed, involved in any crime against women should be tried as a criminal. APSPA should not be used as a shield by the armed forces,” they said.
Referring to crimes against women in Kashmir, the group maintained that there had been more than 10,000 cases of rape and molestation by the armed forces during the past two decades. “International rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Asia Watch have called, from time to time, to investigate the crimes perpetrated by the forces,” said Abdul Majid Zargar of the KCSDS. On the other hand, pro-India parties, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist) have also hailed the recommendations of Justice Verma panel.
It is to mention here that the commission headed by former Chief Justice of India, Justice J S Verma, has strongly recommended the need to bring sexual offences by armed forces and uniformed men under ordinary criminal law. The commission was set up by the Indian government to look into laws for sexual crimes following recent gang rape of a young girl in New Delhi.
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