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Omar, Mehbooba, Sajad condemn civilian killings

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Omar calls it ‘massacre’; Mehbooba says, no country can win a war by killing its own people; Lone urges govt to abandon ‘its Rambo mindset’

Srinagar, Dec 15: Mainstream political parties in Kashmir Saturday condemned the killing of civilians allegedly in government forces’ action during an encounter in Pulwama district, with National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah calling the incident a “massacre”.

Abdullah alleged that the Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration was apparently not doing anything for the security of people in Jammu and Kashmir.

Seven civilians died in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district when government forces opened fire at a crowd which it said “tried to storm the site of an encounter” in which three militants and Army-man were killed.

Abdullah said there was no explanation for such excessive use of force and “massacre” was the only way to describe it.

“7 dead. There is no explanation for this excessive use of force, none what so ever. This is a massacre & that’s the only way to describe it,” he wrote on Twitter.

Earlier, the NC vice-president said the encounter was “badly executed”.

“6 civilians killed and numerous more injured, many critically. Any way you look at it this was a badly executed encounter. Protests around encounter sites are now the norm not the exception. Why are we unable to learn how to handle them better? (sic)” Abdullah tweeted.

He said the Governor’s administration appears “not doing anything on restoring peace” in the “troubled” Valley.

“The administration of Governor Malik has one task & one task only – to focus on the security of the people of J&K & restore peace to a troubled Valley. Sadly, it appears that’s the only thing the administration is not doing. Publicity campaigns & full page ads don’t bring peace,” he tweeted.

Condemning the unabated killings of civilians, NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah said, “Valley has been turned into theatre of death and destruction. Incidents like these put a big question mark on the working of government and security agencies in such circumstances. I am deeply saddened over the killing of civilians in Pulwama. My heart goes out to families who have lost their loved ones in the incident.”

He said the incident must be probed thoroughly and those found guilty must be brought to book. “I pray for peace to departed souls and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”

PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said no country can win a war by killing its own people.

“How long are we going to shoulder the coffins of our youngsters? So many civilians killed today post encounter in Pulwama. No country can win a war by killing its own people. I strongly condemn these killings, and once again appeal for efforts, to stop this blood bath (sic),” Mufti said in a tweet.

“No probe enough to bring back the dead innocent civilians. South Kashmir has been reeling under fear for the last 6 months. Is this what was expected from Gov rule? The admin has failed in securing civilian lives. Deepest condolences to the bereaved (sic),” she said in another tweet.

Former minister and Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone said the administration needs to “seriously evaluate” the costs of such anti-militancy operations.

“Extremely disturbing news coming from Pulwama. The administration needs to seriously evaluate the costs of its operations. If there is even a remote chance of civilians getting killed during military operations it is better to call off such operations,” Lone said in a tweet.

He expressed hope that the administration abandons “its Rambo mindset”.

“My heartfelt thoughts with the families of those who lost their lives in Pulwama. I just pray that Almighty takes us out of the perpetual state of mourning that we seem to have been sucked into. And also hope that administration abandons its Rambo mindset,” Lone said.

“The preparedness of security forces would in the Pulwama context be the ability to make the distinction between combatants and non combatants. If u end up killing 7 civilians in order to kill 3 militants. It is time for heads to roll. We can’t afford a state of impunity,” he said in another tweet.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president G A Mir expressed anguish over the killings and described them as very unfortunate, sad and highly condemnable.

Calling for an end to bloodshed, Mir said it was “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.”

“The civilian killings in Pulwama could have been avoided had the forces followed the SOP (standard operating procedure) properly, but unfortunately that has not happened,” he said.

The JKPCC chief said the central as well as the Jammu and Kashmir government have “miserably failed” to restore peaceful atmosphere in the Valley.

He urged the forces to exercise restraint while dealing with the militant-related activities and ensure no harm to civilians.

CPI(M) leader and former legislator M Y Tarigami while expressing pain and sorrow over the “brutal killings”, said “for the BJP, Kashmir is expendable for its narrow electoral interests.”

“Condemnation and ordering a probe after every killing is not enough. What is required is making security forces accountable and punishing those responsible for such unfortunate killings,” he said.

Tarigami said the BJP regime in New Delhi “has been treating Kashmir as only a security problem instead of having political approach to address the issues”.

“The youngsters have been pushed to the wall due to the mistakes and mishandling of Kashmir by BJP government. Given the rising toll of casualties and no visible efforts by New Delhi to hold meaningful dialogue, there is apprehension that the situation may worsen further,” he said.

He demanded immediate steps for identifying those responsible for the killings so as to ensure that they are punished under law.

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