Civil society groups stage dharna at Jantar Mantar

New Delhi, July 21: A protest march followed by dharna was organised at Jantar Mantar here on Sunday to protest against the recent killing of four innocent civilians in BSF firing at Gool in district Ramban. The protest dharna was organised by Save Sharmila Campaign and Mission Bhartiyam.

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The protestors raised slogans and demanded stern action against those behind the killings. They further demanded withdrawal of contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which the protestors felt was the root cause behind such incidents.
Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign is a nationwide campaign in support of Irom Sharmila and for the repeal of the draconian law AFSPA. For two years, it has been working to spread awareness, mobilize support and generate political pressure to get the law repealed. It is an umbrella of many civil society organizations. The protest was joined and supported by many progressive groups namely AISA, Campus Front of India, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, NCHRO, PUCL, J&K RTI Movement and PUDR among several others. 
Condemning the “brutal Gool killings”, they felt that the massacre was not a sudden reaction to the protests by locals over alleged desecration of Quran.
A large number of people from Jammu and Kashmir and North Eastern states also joined today’s protest at Jantar Mantar. Among the speakers were Ravi Nitesh, Mission Bhartiyam, Muhammad Tanveer from NCHRO, Amit, Sandeepan and V Arun from AISA, Dr Muzaffar Bhat from J&K RTI Movement, Piyush from JNSU, Hemant from DSU, Talha Huseyn from Campus Front, Asad Ashraf from JSS, Manjit from PUDR, Guneet from PUCL, Dar Rashid a Human Rights lawyer from J&K and Devika Mittal from Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign.
“The Ramban incident is a prima facie case of coercive method adopted by the security personnel. It highlights the highhanded attitude of the security forces that they have acquired over a period of time due to their absolute powers and the impunity granted to them”, Nitesh said.
“This protest is about this unacceptable massacre, it is to show our solidarity with the victims and demand justice but it has been organised to attack the root. We know that this incident is not the first incident in Kashmir. These inhuman incidents are quite frequent in Kashmir and in states of North East because draconian laws like AFSPA breed them. We are here today to appeal for humanity, to demand the repeal of AFSPA.” remarked Devika Mittal.
“It is unfortunate that these incidents are happening in the World’s largest “democracy”. It is unfortunate that these killings are justified in the name of upholding the ‘integrity’ of the nation. We feel that development, basic civil rights, basic amenities and justice should be used to uphold the ‘integrity’ not torture and killings.” said V Arun Kumar.
Dr Muzaffar Bhat of J&K chapter of RTI Movement remarked, “this incident happened in Jammu which is seen to be more “peaceful”. So there cannot be any justification. It shows that the entire Jammu and Kashmir is under attack.”
“There is a long list of incidents where security personals of almost all wings have violated the human rights in J&K. There have been fake encounters, torture, rapes etc. in the state but nothing has been done to prosecute the culprits till now. So there is every reason to believe that like other similar incidents before, there will be no action taken by the government against security personnel in Ramban massacre too”, said Mohammad Tanveer of Campus Front of India.
Asad Ashraf from Jamia Solidarity Students told that “unless and until there is demilitarization, the situation will not improve in J&K. We must know that dissatisfaction is a primary reason for increase in insurgent activities so it’s high time that we think about “their” welfare, not “ours”.
Kaashif who was here from Chhatra Vimarsh magazine, remarked that; “How do we take pride in being the world’s largest “democracy” when democracy is not extended to all states within our own country.”
Manjit from PUDR remarked, “It is tragic that Kashmiris are looked upon as “anti-national”, as “anti-Indian”. It is true that there are anti-state slogans in Kashmir but this is because the only symbol of India i.e. the army has created hell in their land (J&K)”.
The protest was supported by Activists like Gautam Navlakha, Prashant Bhushan, Manisha Sethi and Dr Sandeep Pandey, the organisers claimed. However, they were not present on the occasion.

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