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Amnesty launches online, postcard campaign for ban on pellets in Kashmir

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 16: Amnesty International India (AII) has launched a ‘postcard and online campaign’ against the use of pellet guns in Kashmir.
The human rights organization Tuesday announced that it launched postcard campaign and petition, urging J&K government to ban pellet-firing shotguns.
“Government shall also provide reparation to those affected, and set up independent investigations into cases of deaths or serious injuries,” a spokesperson of the AII, said.
It has decided to submit signed postcards and petition to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
“The campaign aims to bring people from across Jammu and Kashmir to write postcards to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti,” the spokesperson said.
“Pellet-firing pump-action shotguns have been responsible for killing, blinding and injuring thousands of people in Kashmir,” the spokesperson said.
AII Executive Director, Aakar Patel, claimed that it was “shameful” that the serious concerns raised repeatedly regarding the use of pellet-firing guns have failed to receive “sufficient attention” from the state government.
“The use of pellet shotguns is inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate. These so called non-lethal weapons have killed at least 14 people since July 2016,” he said. “Thousands more have suffered extensive and debilitating physical and psychological harm. It is unconscionable for authorities to continue using pellet-firing shotguns despite being aware of the damage they cause,” he added.
Campaigner AII, Zahoor Wani said that they want to send a message to the JK government through the campaign that people of Kashmir want an “immediate end” to the use of pellet-firing shotguns. “The voices of the victims and those who stand in solidarity with them must be heard,” Wani said.
The AII said that use of pellet shotguns in Kashmir “violates” international standards on the use of force.
“The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states that law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty. The UN Basic Principles on the ‘Use of Force and Firearms’ states that force should only be used when unavoidable, and law enforcement officials should exercise restraint in using force and minimize damage and injury,” it said.
The state government admitted recently in the state legislative assembly that 6,221 persons had received pellet shotgun injuries, including 782 eye injuries, between July 2016 and February 2017.
In September 2017, the human rights released a report, “Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns”, which documented cases of 88 people whose eyesight was either temporarily or permanently damaged by metal pellets fired by security forces between 2014 and 2017.
AII also obtained information, which suggests that at least 16 Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police personnel suffered pellet injuries in 2016.
AII had also demanded that state government should initiate prompt, independent and impartial civilian investigations into all incidents where the use of pellet-firing shotguns led to deaths or injuries to establish whether arbitrary or excessive force was used.


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Zakir Musa’s successor killed, Ansar Gazwatul Hind wiped out: DGP

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Oct 23: Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Wednesday claimed that they have wiped out militant outfit Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH) from Jammu and Kashmir after security forces killed its last three surviving militants including the successor of slain Zakir Musa, in an encounter at Rajpora in Pulwama district on Tuesday evening.

“Three militants were killed in Rajpora. They were later identified as Hamid Lone alias Hamid Lelhari of Lelhari village Kakpora, Naveed Ahmad Tak of Batpora and Junaid Rashid of Nowdal Tral. All the three were associated with Ansar Gazwatul Hind, which now has been wiped out from the valley,” Singh told reporters.

The DGP said the trio was “involved in many attacks on forces and killing of civilians in Pulwama district.”

 

“After killing of Zakir Musa, Lelhari took command of the AGH. He had joined the militant group in 2016 and since then he was involved in many militant activities.  Lelhari had motivated these two slain militants to join his group. He was a part of the group, which attacked forces in Kakapora. Lelhari along with another militant Yasir had killed two Gujjars recently in the area,” he said.

DGP noted that Junaid Rashid was the second militant of his family to have been killed by the forces. “We feel very sad for that. These work at the behest of Pakistan based agencies,” he said.

Singh said the slain militants were working in coordination with Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT). “Jaish is currently trying to coordinate with every militant group operating in the valley.  Both JeM and LeT decide the targets and work in coordination with other groups,” he said.

DGP used the occasion to appeal the youth to shun militancy saying “taking to weapons is like inviting death.”

“Weapon creates an environment of death. We wish such activities are stopped. Youth should shun militancy to restore peace in the valley,” Singh said.

The DGP claimed the situation in the valley has improved after August 5 and youth joining militancy has shown a downward trend during the period.

“People were of the notion that militancy will increase after August 5. But the momentum of youth joining militant ranks has come down drastically during the period. People have now set up their stall and kiosks on roads everywhere to do their routine business,” he said.

Singh said that only five to six youth have gone missing from their homes after August 5. “We can’t be sure that they have joined any militant group. There can be other reasons behind their decision to leave home,” he said.

Asked whether there was any possibility of Pulwama like attack, he said: “Forces are alert on ground to respond to these threats.”

“It is difficult to anticipate anything since there have been many threats by Pakistan including their Prime Minister.  Pulwama like incidents can happen anywhere. But if we face such situation, we are alert on ground to take care of these threats,” Singh said.

Asked about reports of detentions in south Kashmir, Singh said: “Propaganda is created by certain media houses without verifying the news”

“This is clearly a misinformation and propaganda.  We always verify about the possible OGW network or either associates of militants before picking any person. Later verification follows and then they are being freed after proper counselling,” he said.

 DGP said out of five people arrested, four are later released. “We are not fond of keeping people in custody unnecessarily. 17000 cases are being registered ever year by the police and it doesn’t mean we pick and torture them.  In case of juveniles, the age is being verified and then legal action follows. We follow Juvenile Justice Act,” he said

On the reports of withdrawing post-paid phone services again in the valley, Singh said they take every decision after considering the ground situation.

“Phones were blocked after assessing of situation. Same procedure was followed when the service was resumed,” he said.

The DGP said that proper security arrangements will be put in place for conducting exams in the valley. “Exams are in the interest of children and their parents.  Whenever need arises we are ready to help them by ensuring proper security. We appeal children not to spoil their career,” he said.

Singh said police has put in place security arrangement for Block Development Council election on Thursday.  “We have directed SPs to make every security arrangement in their respective zones,” he said.

DGP noted that they have reviewed the security “to ensure protection of the people particularly those associated with apple trade.”

“There were some unfortunate incidents when militants targeted two truckers, a labourer and apple trader. People took it serious and condemned the act. They (militants) can interfere to the extent of killing people who do their routine work, but we have now reviewed the security. We have now intensified our operation against militants,” he said.

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Sizable infiltration post Aug 5:DGP

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Oct 23: Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Wednesday admitted that sizable infiltration has taken place after August 5 when Centre abrogated Article 370 and divided state into two union territories.

“Some infiltration by militants has taken place. However many of their attempts to sneak in have been foiled. Now we see ceasefire violation in Rajouri, Poonch, Samba, Hiranagar, Karnah, Uri, Machil, Gurez and Keran every day. Ceasefire violation is aimed at pushing militants into Kashmir,” Singh said.

The DGP said the exact number of militants who have sneaked in can’t be known, but the infiltration has been a sizable one.

 

“We feel the number is sizable. But I don’t see the number that big to worry us. Process is on to bring their number down,” he said.

Singh said lesser number of militants was worrying Pakistan and that is why “they are trying to push in more infiltrators”.

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Dumping of construction waste: Kashmir stares at environmental disaster

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Oct 23: An environmental disaster is unfolding in Kashmir as more than 6650 metric tonnes of construction and demolition (C&D) waste is brazenly dumped along the river banks and vacant lands annually.

Official document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that total C&D waste generated in Kashmir for 2018-2019 was 6650.28 metric tonnes. 

The construction and demolition waste management rules 2016 apply to every waste resulting from construction, re-modeling, repair and demolition of any civil structure of individual or organization or authority which generates construction and demolition waste such as building materials, debris and rubble.

 

However, in absence of any collection and disposal of C&D waste, the waste is being dumped on unused vacant lands, along river banks.  “The waste is disposed of by owners themselves on completion of construction work as per municipal authorities and only unclaimed waste is transported by local bodies. “There is no progress as far as identification of sites is concerned for processing of C&D waste,” the document reads.

The urban local bodies (ULBs) are responsible for the management of construction and demolition waste.

“As per the rules, the ULBs should chalk out stages, methodology and equipment, material involved in the overall activity and final clean up after completion of the C&D waste,”  said an official at the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB).

Environmentalist Dr Arshid said dumping the waste along the river banks can prove detrimental to fragile environment. “The waste carries increased amount of dust load which can deteriorate the water quality. It erodes over a period of time and can increase turbidity,” he said

Director State Pollution Control Board, Rafi Ahmed: “As per rules, the municipal corporations are bound to identify a separate landfill site for the proper disposing off of C&D waste. They are currently in process of identifying some sites for the waste.”

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