Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir condemned the killings of at least seven civilians on Saturday allegedly during clashes with security forces after an encounter with suspected militants in Pulwama district. Several people were injured in firing.
National Conference vice-president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah called the incident a massacre and accused Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration of not doing enough to protect the state’s citizens. “There is no explanation for this excessive use of force, none what so ever,” Abdullah tweeted.
The state has been under Governor’s Rule since June.
Peoples Democratic President and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also condemned the killings. “How long are we going to shoulder the coffins of our youngsters?” Mufti tweeted. “So many civilians killed today post encounter in Pulwama. No country can win a war by killing its own people.”
People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone demanded a serious evaluation of such operations and the need to “abandon the Rambo mindset”. “If there is even a remote chance of civilians getting killed during military operations it is better to call off such operations,” Lone tweeted. “It is time for heads to roll.”
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president GA Mir called for an end to bloodshed. “It is obvious that unabated innocent civilian killings in Kashmir valley has always been detrimental to peace initiatives initiated from time to time, besides vitiating the atmosphere, resulting in the deterioration of situation to a largest extent,” PTI quoted him as saying. Mir said the forces could have avoided killing the civilians if they had followed the standard operating procedures.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami expressed his sorrow over the killings and accused the BJP of treating Kashmir like an “expendable” option in favour of its electoral interests. “What is required is making security forces accountable and punishing those responsible for such unfortunate killings,” Tarigami said, while adding that the Centre needs to have a political approach to handle Kashmir matters and not treat it as only a security problem.
“The youngsters have been pushed to the wall due to the mistakes and mishandling of Kashmir by BJP Government,” Tarigami said.
The local administration has suspended train and internet services in the region.
Earlier on Saturday, the separatist group Hurriyat Conference called for a three-day strike and protests across Kashmir.