Protesters being shot at to kill or maim: NC

Srinagar: National Conference on Sunday lashed out at the State and the Central Government for a complete, barbaric and uninhibited assault on civilians in Kashmir and said protesters were being shot with an intent to kill or maim. In a statement issued from Party Headquarters in Srinagar, Senior National Conference Leader and Former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Mubarak Gul asked the Central Government to realize that there was absolutely no alternative to engaging with Pakistan and the Hurriyat Conference leadership as well as all other stakeholders in the Kashmir Valley.

“We have seen a clear operative pattern where protesters, especially the youth, are being shot at with the intent to kill or maim. While around 56 youngsters have lost their lives in the current unrest, thousands of young men and women have sustained serious, life-altering injuries with hundreds facing a bleak future due to pellet injuries in their eyes and spinal cords. Despite this humanitarian disaster, the Government has failed to ban the use of pellet guns and continues with an investment in lethal force to deal with a sentiment that inherently political in nature”, the Senior National Conference Leader said in a statement to KNS.

The Senior NC Leader said New Delhi should engage in an unconditional, open-ended, comprehensive and sustained dialogue process with Pakistan and acknowledge that Pakistan is a party to the complex, vexed conflict in Kashmir.

“Chest thumping over bluster in Islamabad might help the BJP in the upcoming elections in UP and Punjab but will further catalyze the agitation in Kashmir and we will continue losing our youth in the absence of New Delhi evolving and rising to the occasion”, Mubarak Gul added.

“The Prime Minister’s deafening silence is also a tragedy in its own right. While the PM finally spoke out against the cow vigilantes in the country – a compulsion sparked by an assault on five members of the Dalit community, he has chosen to maintain a tragic silence on the situation in Kashmir even when fifty six young men have been killed and thousands injured. This is unbecoming of a Prime Minister and can have very dangerous consequences as far as alienation and isolation in Kashmir is concerned”, the Senior NC Leader and Former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly said.

The Senior NC Leader also appealed to the Members of Parliament to rise to the occasion and speak up against excessive use of force on protesters in Kashmir while also holding the Central Government accountable for its abject failure to acknowledge the political nature of the problem in Kashmir.

“National Conference had submitted a memorandum to the visiting Union Home Minister asking for an immediate cessation of lethal force against protesters in the Valley as well as a time-bound accountability of the security forces and the State Police in cases where excessive force had been used. Neither did the Home Minister ban the use of pellet guns, nor has the Central Government shown any inclination to announce any political initiatives to stem the progressing alienation in the Valley. We reiterate our demand that New Delhi should acknowledge the political issue in Kashmir and take immediate, concrete steps to engage with Pakistan as well as stakeholders in Kashmir”, the Senior NC Leader added. (KNS)

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