MARCH 24, 2003
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India/Kashmir: Safeguard the Lives of Civilians
24- Amnesty International today condemned the unlawful killing
by unidentified gunmen of 24 civilians in Nadimarg village in
the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The dead included 11 women
and two children and were all members of the Kashmiri Pandit community.
reports, around midnight on 23 March, approximate 15 men wearing
army fatigues and carrying automatic weapons disarmed police officers
at a nearby police station before ordering villagers out of their
homes. When the villagers where gathered outside, the armed men
fired on them indiscriminately killing 24 people before escaping
into nearby forest. So far no one has claimed responsibility for
the killings. This comes in the wake of the Government of Jammu
and Kashmir's calling on the Pandit community to return to the
Kashmir Valley after a decade and its attempts to restore the
rule of law across the state.
must safeguard the lives of civilians in Jammu and Kashmir," Amnesty
humanitarian law prohibits deliberate attacks on civilians and
those not taking direct part in hostilities. It is as yet unclear
who is responsible, but we wholeheartedly condemn this attack."
of innocent civilians should never be used to score a political
point or undermine a political process," the international human
rights organization continued.
urged the authorities to take measures to prevent further abuses
against civilians and to ensure that the killings in Nadimarg
are comprehensively and transparently investigated with a view
to identifying the perpetrators and holding them to account.
"In the past,
all too often the unlawful killing of civilians were left uninvestigated
and those responsible remain punished," Amnesty International
As an example,
the organization referred to the massacre at Chitthisinghpora
in which 36 Sikh civilians were deliberately killed in March 2000,
which has still not been subjected to scrutiny.
An early consequence
of the rise of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir was the migration
of large numbers of the Hindu Pandit community from the Kashmir
Valley. The Pandits were regarded by some as having strong links
to the rest of India because they were Hindu and because they
held a large percentage of government posts. Sections of the press
called for the community to leave the Valley and anti-Pandit demonstrations
took place in Srinagar. Several prominent members of the Pandit
community, such as leading academics, were allegedly killed by
In 1991 about
150,000 Kashmiri Pandits migrated from the Kashmir Valley. Those
who were wealthy or had relatives in New Delhi moved there while
the rest were relocated in camps around Jammu and New Delhi. A
decade later, thousands of the migrants still live in camps around
Jammu. According to government figures in April 2001, about 32,000
Kashmiri migrant families have been registered with relief organizations.
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