Amnesty Concludes Jammu & Kashmir Visit23 May 2010
New Delhi: A two-member delegation of Amnesty International concluded its six-day visit to Srinagar on Sunday. It held wide-ranging discussions with the government and the separatists but was denied permission to visit the jails. A statement by Amnesty International issued here said the visit was aimed at securing a better understanding of the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir and to discuss Amnesty's future work in the region. This is its first visit to the Kashmir Valley in the last 20 years. During its six-day visit, the delegation met Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Leader of the Opposition Mehbooba Mufti, separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Javed Mir, Maulana Abdullah Tari, Abdul Ahad Parra and family members of detained leaders Shabir Ahmad Shah and Nayeem Ahmad Khan, besides organisations representing different sections of society. “The members of the delegation also conducted research on cases of preventive detention under the J&K Public Safety Act,” the statement said. “The members met with former detainees and families of those currently in detention, the J&K Bar Association, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the State Human Rights Commission and various lawyers and journalists.” Amnesty International said that in a meeting with top officials, the delegation raised concerns over the alleged misuse of the Public Safety Act. “A request to visit detainees lodged at the Central Jail, Srinagar, was denied by the officials but the Chief Minister later promised to consider it.” Amnesty International, the statement said, would complete its ongoing research into preventive detentions and subsequently release its report on the issue. The focus of the research would be the Public Safety Act. Earlier during meeting with the delegation, Mr. Omar Abdullah said that allowing Amnesty to visit Kashmir was a clear indication of the fact that government believed in openness and transparency. The government encouraged objective and fair analysis by all organisations concerned. On the basis of their suggestions, corrective measures could be taken wherever required. He said that the last two decades had seen turbulence in the Valley. “During this turmoil, innocent civilians suffered the most.” Whenever any security man was found guilty of human rights violation, the government was never found lacking to punish the guilty. Both in cases of militancy and general law and order situation, the government adopted the legal and judicial route to deal with the accused. “There is no desire on the part of the government to thwart any legal process or deny any person his legal right,” he said. He said recently a new culture of stone pelting had emerged in the Valley but with the cooperation of general public and Mohalla committees, the youngsters were persuaded to desist from it. Regarding issuance of passports, Mr. Abdullah said that he had directed Police Intelligence Department to issue no-objection certificates even to the kith and kin of militants if they were not involved in any militant activities.