Alleging army personnel of gross human right violations in the conflict-torn State of Jammu and Kashmir, All India Students Association (AISA) Saturday held a protest at Jantar Mantar in national capital in solidarity with the families of the victims in the Handwara killings.
Humming justice songs and carrying placards bearing script that reads "Kashmiri Lives Matter-End the Spate of Killings of Civilains in Kashmir" , the protestors demanded the immedate arrest of Army and Police personnel involved in the killings of 5 innocent civilians in the past one week in the Valley. The protesters also sought justice for the victims.
In the past six days, five persons were killed including an elderly women during a protest in the north Kashmir's Handawara area, 90 kms from summer capital Srinagar. The protests erupted when army personnell allegedly molestated a school girl when she was inside the washroom close to an Army bunker in the main market of the town.
Addressing the gathering, Sucheta De, the National President of AISA and former JNU Students’ Union President said that in the name of National security innocent Kashmiris are being killed for no apparent reason.
"We dont need this kind of national security where people are being killed to save the chastity of a girl. Whenever you raise your voice in Kashmir you get a bullet in return," she said.
Setting an example of Kunanposhpora rape incident in 1991 in which more than 50 women were raped in a single night by the Army, Sucheta said, "that it is an irony that after so many justice has not prevailed."
She further said under the draconian law like Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), security forces in Kashmir are protected from all heinous crime which they have committed over the past two decades.
"This black should be withdrawan from Kashmir and guilty ones should be booked for their crimes," she said.
As the protest was going on peacefully, the situation took an ugly turn when some photo-journalists from print media teased some Kashmiriprotesters of carrying a Pakistani flag with them and their intentions of unfurling it. It was followed by another incident in which some Hindu
right-wing activists, disrupted the gathering and started to sloganeering "Bharat Mata ki Jai". However a large contingent of police deployed at the venue brought the situation under control.
After the situation was calm down, All India Progressive Womens’ Association (AIPWA) National Secretary, Kavita Krishnan targeting the Hindu right- wing groups in her speech said that before chanting "Bharat Mata ki Jai" people should first learn to respect women.
"You rape women in Kashmir. You rape Dalits. You rape innocent girls on streets. And than chant Bharat Mata ki Jai. First, learn to respect women, than talk of Bharat Mata" she said.
Krishnan said that Handawara episode is a lesson that how laws are openely violated with impunity in sexual assault case in Kashmir.
"Under the POCSO law a teenage girl gets a special protection and that her statement be recorded in the presence of child right activists with outmost senstivity, patience and privacy.
"Instead, the police manipulated the girl to shoot a video with the political motive of exonerating the Army personnel," Krishnan said.
Krishnan condemning the killings questioned the Indian establishment of guns and live bullets routinely used to deal with any civilian protest in Kashmir.
"Recently, the Jat agitation violence was met with kid gloves, while Kashmir agitation with live bullets, killing young men and women. It has been the fate of Kashmir."
Vice-president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) Shehla Rashid reminded the gathering that how justice were denied in the Chattisingpora and Pathribhal massacre.
" It is not new in Kashmir when justice has been denied . We have so many examples from past to learn from. However, we have to end this normalisation where people get killed without any accountability," Shehla said.
J&K Congress leader Salman Nizami who was also present in the protest asked for an immediate release of the minor girl and her father from police custody.
Taking a dig at BJP, Nizami said that why no delegation from Center visited Handawara to sympathize with the families of the victims.
"Where is Anupam Kher . Weren't the victim of Handawara his own people. Why only hue and cry over NIT issue," Nizami said.
A number of Kashmiri students also spoke on the occasion expressing their solidarity with the families of the victim.