ISLAMABAD: Human rights defenders issued an appeal to the Government of India to resume investigations into a case registered under Section 302 at Karan Nagar police station in Srinagar, Indian-occupied Kashmir, on 11 June 1991, where 18 civilians were killed according to Indian police, and 32 according to local eyewitnesses. The 30th anniversary of the incident, which Kashmiris remember as Chota Bazar Massacre, requires a transparent probe and punishment for security personnel involved, said a press statement by YFK-International Kashmir Lobby Group, an independent group working with international mechanisms for conflict resolution in Kashmir.
The demand came in a seminar organized by YFK in Islamabad where Mushaal Hussain Mullick, a rights activist and head of Peace and Culture Organization, spoke about her experience learning about the legacy of Chota Bazar Massacre while living in Srinagar. Other speakers included Maria Hamid, a scholar at National Defense University, and Ahmed Quraishi, YFK executive director and host of the event.
The objective of the event was to ensure that the Chota Bazar incident is not forgotten, said Quraishi, who explained that India has responsibilities in Kashmir as the administering power in a disputed region, and one of those responsibilities is to protect the life and property in the disputed region under administration, and ensure credible investigation into criminal cases, especially where significant loss of lives has occurred.
On June 11, 1991, local residents say an Indian paramilitary force company (Central Reserve Police Force-CRPF) barged out of a camp located near the General Medical College (GMC), near the Chota Bazar locality, and opened indiscriminate fire on shops and passersby. These were the early days of the launch of an armed struggle in Kashmir against symbols of Indian presence, and Indian military forces in the disputed region were in panic, leading to several violent incidents in 1990, 1991, and 1992, where it is suspected that Indian soldiers resorted to use of excessive force with impunity.
Indian authorities are yet to conclude a probe into the case thirty years later.
NDU’s Maria Hamid said the Indian responsibility for an incident in a territory under its military control where a large number of civilians inexplicably have lost lives is undeniable. “Given the articles of Geneva Conventions on rights and status of an occupying force in a region, India is bound to respect Jammu and Kashmir’s sovereignty, maintain law and order by the local administration, ensure health, hygiene, medical care, food supplies, safety, and security of the general population,” the scholar added. Mushaal Mullick, whose husband, the renowned Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, is jailed by Indian authorities, walked the audience through her experience in visiting the Chota Bazar locality. She explained that this is a densely populated area where an attack by security forces would Javed led to a high casualty figure, lending credence to reports that suggest up to 32 Kashmiris were killed in the incident. Maria Hamid said that, under the jurisdiction of the law, the Indian Army is bound to respect public and private property.
YFK–International Kashmir Lobby Group (Youth Forum For Kashmir) is a non-partisan, international non-governmental organization, working for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir Conflict in accordance with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.