Amnesty India Calls for 'Impartial' Probe Into Civilian Deaths in Kashmir's Kulgam

Seven civilians were killed and at least 25 injured in a blast at an encounter site on Sunday.

New Delhi: Amnesty India on Wednesday called for an “independent” as well as an “impartial” probe into the October 21 deaths of seven civilians in a blast at Kulgam district in south Kashmir. At least 25 others were injured in the incident. The organisation has further stated that those found responsible for the episode should be brought to justice.

Seven civilians were killed on Sunday when explosives left unused by three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants – gunned down in an encounter – blew up in Kashmir’s Kulgam district. The incident took place at Laroo village in the district when security forces had launched a search-and-cordon operation following intelligence report about the presence of militants.

The Wire earlier reported that all those affected in the incident, the dead and the injured, were natives of Kulgam and had swarmed to the gun-battle site to douse the fire in a house where the three rebels were killed in an early morning encounter.

Also read: Kulgam Deaths Leave Kashmir in Mourning With No End in Sight to Decades of Conflict

Aakar Patel, the executive director of Amnesty India was quoted by PTI as saying that in case of “any violence between security forces and armed groups,” there is a need for “extra caution” to ensure civilians in the area do not become “collateral damage”.

“Safety of the civilian population should be of paramount importance,” Patel said.

Soon after the incident, Kulgam MLA and CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami had expressed grief over the loss of civilian lives and demanded a probe. “It is devastating. This needs to be investigated through an impartial probe…We are now tired of crying and demanding, but those who matter have turned a deaf ear,” he said.

Also read: The Centre Is Defeating Itself in Kashmir

Patel further said on Wednesday: “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.”

Reacting to the incident, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had termed the deaths as the “killing of innocent Kashmiris by Indian security forces”, remarks that India’s external affairs ministry had slammed. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said that instead of making comments on India’s affairs, the Pakistan leadership should “look inwards and address its own issues”.