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New Delhi, Mar 24 (UNI) Leaders and representatives of several organisations from Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and the North-East today formed an interim coordination committee to strengthen and build effective cooperation among the constituent units.

Prof S A R Geelani of Society for Protection of Detainees and Prisoners Rights, moderate Hurriyat Conference executive member Sheikh Abdul Aziz, head of Human Rights Wing of the Hurriyat Conference advocate Mohammad Ashraf Lone, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) general secretary Engineer Ghulam Rasool Dar, advocate of Lawyers for Human Rights International Navkiran Singh and Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwarpal Singh.

The representatives from Naga and Assam groups would be included in the committee in due course, announced Mr Geelani and Mr Kanwarpal Singh at a joint news conference here.

The decision to form the committee was taken at a meeting of leaders and representatives of organisations from Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and the North-East, attended among others by JKLF chairman Yasin Malik and presided by Justice (Retd) Ajit Singh Bains, they said.

The committee was formed as a result of continuing deliberations, beginning with a seminar on rights of ethnic nationalities in Chandigarh on December 8, 2007, organised by Dal Khalsa and attended by JKLF, the Hurriyat Conference, the Naga People Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) and the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO).

After extensive deliberations on civil and political rights situation in the respective areas, a number of decisions were taken and it was resolved to expand the scope of the committee to include members from the North-East and other regional groups and movements struggling for the peoples' rights, they said.

Since the past six decades, Mr Singh said various ethnic nationalities had been encountering ''repressive policies of the Indian state and all these groups have resolved to resist the same in a united manner.'' Several resolutions were later unanimously passed at the meeting. The organisation, through the resolutions, demanded that all political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, and the North-East as well as other parts of the country be released.

They also sought withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the Disturbed Areas Act and other anti-people legislation from Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Punjab.

The meeting urged ''the Indian state to abolish death penalty from the statute. Pending the abolition of capital punishment, the death sentences of all the prisoners, including Mohammad Afzal Guru, Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh be commuted to life imprisonment.'' Those prisoners, who were on the death row for an unreasonably long time, should be released immediately.

Widespread impunity and discretion granted to the Army and police, the resolution said, played havoc with the human rights of people in respective areas, in individual cases as well as gross abuse of peoples together, and these should be withdrawn.

The Committee also congratulated people of Kosovo for declaring independence after a century of subjugation and oppression.

The meeting condemned the oppression of Tibetans in Lhasa by the Chinese authorities and urged the international community to intervene to uphold the rights of the people of Tibet.

UNI AG PK GC1828

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