SRINAGAR: As Indian forces continued to fire tear-gas shells at Kashmiris protesting against the killing of innocent civilians on a third consecutive day amid a lockdown of the restive valley, the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemned the shooting at demonstrators by the Indian forces and called upon the international community to intervene.
Businesses and schools across the India-held territory remained closed on Monday when the protesters marched on India’s military headquarters against the Saturday killing of more than half a dozen Kashmiris in the Pulwama region.
Expressing condolences to the families of the victims who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist act and wishing the wounded prompt recovery, the OIC general secretariat asked the international community to play its role in order to reach a just and lasting solution to the Kashmir conflict, in accordance with the international resolutions adopted by the OIC and the UN Security Council, and fulfil the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
In Srinagar, police fired tear gas to drive back dozens of protesters led by a key Kashmiri leader, who tried to reach the Indian military base, while authorities had barricaded roads to the base with razor wire and armoured vehicles.
National Assembly adopts resolution asking India to bring an end to human rights violations
Yasin Malik, chief of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was detained by police, while other Kashmiri leaders were put under house arrest to stop them marshalling other protesters.
Mobile phone and internet services remained suspended in some areas and train services shut down to prevent protesters from massing in numbers. “Restrictions are in place in some city areas and in Pulwama,” Inspector General of Police Swayam Prakash Pani told AFP, referring to Srinagar and the southern district where Saturday’s shooting occurred.
India’s army, which has half a million troops deployed in the disputed territory, urged the public to ignore the call for protest. “Indian army strongly condemns this call by Pak(istan) proxies and advises people not to fall prey to such designs of anti-national forces,” an army spokesman said in a statement issued late Sunday.
While India has long accused Pakistan of funding and arming the Kashmiris fighting in the held Kashmir, Islamabad denied this and said it had always provided political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris struggling for self-determination.
Saturday’s shooting ignited fresh anger across the region that has witnessed its bloodiest year since 2009 and increasingly violent public opposition to Indian rule.
Popular support for the Kashmiris fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan has grown in recent years and villagers, sometimes in their thousands, swarm the sites of gun battles with government forces to assist fighters.
The weekend violence also saw three fighters and an Indian soldier killed in a shootout.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly of Pakistan passed a resolution to condemn Indian atrocities in India-held Kashmir.
The resolution, which was tabled by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, also welcomed the OIC statement on the human rights situation in held Kashmir.
The NA condemned the grave human rights violation in the disputed valley and urged the international community to play its role in resolving the long-standing issue.
The resolution expressed serious concern over the killing of 14 Kashmiris and injuring of over 200 others by the Indian security forces in Pulwama district.
It saluted and expressed complete solidarity with the brave Kashmiri people, who had been engaged in peaceful protests to demand their right to self-determination. It said the brutal tactics of the Indian authorities could not deter the Kashmiris from their genuine demand for freedom.
It asked the Indian government to bring end to all human rights violations and state terrorism, lift the restriction on press and internet and give the right to the people in held Kashmir.
The resolution reiterated that Pakistan would continue to provide diplomatic, moral and political support to the Kashmiris in their just struggle for freedom.
Meanwhile, the director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor also condemned the targeting of innocent civilian population by the Indian forces across the Line of Control (LOC). In a tweet, the DG stated: “State sponsored terrorism by Indian Occupation Forces on innocent Kashmiris including unethical targeting of civilian population across LOC are highly condemnable. Bullets can never suppress unarmed brave Freedom Fighters. Indian Army must respect ethics of professional soldiering.”
Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2018