Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

INDIA Church demands government end violent protests in Kashmir valley

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 11, 2009

On 2009-6-10

NEW DELHI (UCAN) — Church people in the Kashmir Valley say the government should intervene to end violent protests resulting over the rape and murder of two women, allegedly by security forces.

“Justice has to be done” for the victims’ families said Father Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India on June 10.

The Kashmir Valley, in the northern part of Jammu and Kashmir State, has witnessed several violent protests since May 30 after the bodies of two women were found near a stream in Shopian district.

Autopsies on Nilofar Ahmad and her sister-in-law Asiya Jan reportedly confirmed they were raped before they were murdered.

Father Joseph said “it is sad” that despite the government talking about the empowerment of women, “they are still abused in this country.”

The Divine Word priest said the Church wants the government “to take steps to restore peace in the area as early as possible.”

Violent protests and strikes began after the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a conglomeration of political parties that want self-determination for Kashmir, accused Indian security forces of the crime.

The protesters — most of them students — took to the streets demanding the arrest of the killers whilst shouting slogans calling for independence from India. They shut down shops, blocked roads and confronted riot police.

About 24 people were injured after police fired on protesters during a June 8 demonstration, which turned violent. Police also imposed a curfew in some areas to curb the violence.

The situation is very “volatile and it should be handled with care,” said Sister Jyoti Thomas, vice-principal of Presentation School in Srinagar, the state capital.

“Curfews, protests and strikes have totally paralyzed normal life here. Apart from a few chemist shops all other shops, banks and schools are shut,” the nun told UCA News, adding that her school “had been closed for seven days.

However, the school opened on June 9 after the situation improved, following a call from the jailed leader of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, asking for an end to the protests. He was arrested on June 7 after making the murder allegations against the security forces.

Sister Thomas said the situation has since become better but it is “very difficult to get essential goods” and prices have shot up as a result.

“Every day cases of rape and violence against women are being reported all over the country. If the whole country and its leaders react like this the entire country will be paralyzed,” added the nun.

Father Shaiju Chacko, vice-principal of St. Joseph’s School, situated in the state’s Baramulla border area, told UCA News that school children are the most affected due to the strikes and curfews. “We are forced to close down schools every other day.”

He said the government should investigate and arrest those responsible for killing the two women in order to provide justice for their families. However, he said a demand for justice should not result in violence and curfews. Curfews are not a “means to bring about justice,” he said. Despite the current lull in violence, people are faced with constant uncertainty. “Nobody knows what will happen from one day to the next,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-dominated state, has been the subject of disputes between India and Pakistan since Britain partitioned the subcontinent in 1947. Separatist violence has killed at least 80,000 people over the past two decades, according to some media reports.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars over the region, and recently a more localized conflict in 1999. Pakistan calls the part of the territory it controls Azad (free) Kashmir. The Indian-controlled area is part of Jammu and Kashmir state.

Article printed from Union of Catholic Asian News: http://www.ucanews. com

Advertisements

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

 
%d bloggers like this: