State Violence Against Peaceful Public Meetings
6 September 2016 — Over the last week – August 29 to 5 September, of uninterrupted curfew in Kashmir, the government’s unbridled use of force on peaceful public meetings/rallies, which are either funeral processions of the civilians killed by government forces or peaceful political rallies where people demand their right to self determination, across Kashmir valley has resulted in injuries to 1215+ people, many of whom are injured by pellets shot guns. The violence used by government forces against un-armed peaceful rallies deflates its claims that its forces only resort to violence when they are pelted with stones. Contrary to government claims, the use of force against the peaceful demonstrators acts as a provocation to people and youth in particular who then retaliate by stone throwing on Indian forces. The sheer number of peaceful pro-freedom rallies held in the last week alone symbolizes the nature of the current anti-India uprising which has seen lakhs of Kashmiris on streets to voice their demand for right to self-determination. Such attacks are against the internationally, and domestically, recognized fundamental rights of peoples to peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of opinion and expression, including India’s obligation under the ICCPR.
In the week spanning from 29 August to 5 September, a total of eighty public meetings/rallies were held across all districts of Kashmir among which government forcibly disrupted 36 rallies, using extensive of force against the assembled people; shelling with bullets, tear gas shells and pellets. The government forces, in many instances, vandalized the venue of these pro-freedom rallies, set ablaze the tents and threw away the food items which were cooked by local organizers for the participants of the rallies. The rest of the rallies went on peacefully. This clearly shows that the 44 protest programs/rallies which were organized in the last week remained completely peaceful and no stone pelting was witnessed in these rallies, while as the 36 rallies where Indian forces used violence to vandalize the already set up venues and desist the participants from attending the programs, has resulted in clashes in which around 1215+ people have been injured.
The use of force against the participants of these peaceful rallies is in continuity with the government’s brazen display of brutality on Kashmiri people this summer of anti-India uprising, following the extra judicial killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani on 8 July, in which 75+ people have been killed and 10,000+ people injured thus far.
The government’s actions on ground contradict with its political rhetoric. On the one hand it wants people, particularly youth, not to engage in stone throwing but on the other hand it denies people peaceful congregation thus provoking them to resort to stone pelting.
The violence perpetrated on peaceful rallies in Kashmir is in continuation of decades of State violence, aggression and denial of people’s rights. JKCCS condemns this use of force on peaceful rallies. It should be publicly clarified on whose orders the government forces are attacking these peaceful rallies of people and vandalizing venues and injuring hundreds of people by use of excessive force.
Statement by Spokesperson, JKCCS