Authorities should conduct effective, independent and impartial investigations into the killings of seven civilians by a blast in the aftermath of the Kulgam encounter, Amnesty India said on Wednesday.
“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.
Seven civilians were killed in Kashmir’s Kulgam district on 21 October in an explosion at the site of the encounter between militants and government forces. The police claimed that the six of the civilians were killed by “stray explosives” after they rushed to the encounter site, despite a warning by government forces. The police, Amnesty said, has admitted that they withdrew from the encounter site without sanitising the area. The police later registered a case about the incident and have 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. (GNS)