Safety of civilians should not be compromised

By Amnesty International India
Bengaluru/ New Delhi: 25 October 2018 11:59 am

Representational image, source: PTI

Authorities should conduct effective, independent and impartial investigations into the killings of seven civilians by a blast in the aftermath of the Kulgam encounter in Jammu and Kashmir and bring those responsible to justice, Amnesty India said today.

“In case of any direct or indirect violence between security forces and armed groups, extra caution should be exercised to ensure that civilians in the area do not become collateral damage. Safety of the civilian population should be of paramount importance,” said Aakar Patel, Amnesty India.

According to the media reports, seven civilians were killed in Kashmir’s Kulgam district on 21 October in an explosion at the site of the encounter between militants and security forces. The police claimed that the civilians were killed by “stray explosives” after they rushed to the encounter site, despite a warning by security forces. One of the media reports quoted a senior police officer admitting that they withdrew from the encounter site without sanitising the area. The police later registered a case about the incident and has initiated an investigation.

“What transpired in the aftermath of the Kulgam encounter is unfortunate and could have been avoided had the authorities taken extra caution to ensure that civilians would have access to the area only after proper sanitization of the encounter site was done.  While we acknowledge that a case has been registered, we urge the authorities to ensure all those responsible for the incident are brought to justice for their failure to protect the human rights of the population of Jammu and Kashmir,” said Aakar Patel.

BACKGROUND

Three suspected members of armed groups were killed in a house after a gunfight broke out early on Sunday, 21 October, after security forces began a cordon-and-search operation following reports of the presence of suspected members of armed groups in Laroo village. The police said once the firing stopped, local residents went too close to the encounter site before security forces could sanitise the area.

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