An Appeal to join in the Candle Light Protest in Kolkata from Concerned Citizens for Kashmir

Tufail Mattoo (17)  
Javid Ahmad Maila (18) 
Shakeel Ahmad Ganai (14) 
Firdous Ahmad Kakroo (17) 
Asif Hassan Rather (9) 
Ishteyaque Ahmad Khanday (15) 
Imtiyaz Ahmad Itoo (17) 
Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat (17) 
Abrar Ahmad (17) 

These are some of the twenty or so civilians killed by the security forces in the past month. The home minister has come out with statements like: Parents should ensure that their children remain indoors. It is the responsibility of parents,” He further said that the purpose of moving in the Army was to “serve as a deterrent.” The Army would be in Kashmir “as long as it is necessary” to deal with the situation there. Fingers have been pointed at terrorist groups as well as the half-hearted attempts of the ruling NC state government to control the situation. But it is increasingly clear that spaces for civil dissent in Kashmir are few and continually shrinking. The armed forces have been used to crush all forms of civilian dissent in Kashmir and the protests and protesters in the valley are always criminalised more than anywhere else in the country.

No one from the central government has come out with a statement expressing grief at the loss of so many young lives and consoling the bereaved families. And all the while the civilian death-toll is mounting and will continue to do so as long as the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA)—which gives army officers the power to open fire on protesters and anyone else they decide is a potential lawbreaker whilst granting all personnel impunity from prosecution under civil law—remains in force in Kashmir.

Whatever our separate and individual takes on azaadi and armed insurgency, there cannot be any doubt that these killings of unarmed civilians—mostly angry teenagers—by the armed forces in Kashmir are gross violations of human rights and civil liberties. We must come together to

  1. express our solidarity with the families of those who have been killed in the recent events and also with those who are protesting against the continued presence and the misconducts of the armed forces in the valley
  2. strongly condemn the violence and the role of the security forces
  3. insist that the Government of India and the state government take immediate action to prevent further loss of life and property and initiate an impartial investigation into the recent killings
  4. demand the immediate repeal of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA)
  5. demand  immediate steps for the gradual demilitarization of the valley with troops confined to the border areas

A candle light protest will be held on July 24, 2010 in front of Academy of Fine Arts between 5pm and 8 pm to protest and denounce the killings and human rights violation in Kashmir in the past weeks. We invite you to come and join the vigil and voice your protest. Please forward this appeal to others. We are also sorry about crosspostings, if there are any.

We would also request you to get in touch with us by July 16, 2010 to let us know if you would like to support and participate in the vigil.



Aniruddha, Debjani, Madhura, Parjanya

(on behalf of Concerned Citizens for Kashmir)

Contacts: Aniruddha: 9836412779
Debjani: 9674063020
Madhura: (0)9582318323