Rights body urges Center to use restraint to deal with protest

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New York, Aug 15 (UNI) Human Rights Watch has said India should order troops and police to refrain from using lethal force against irate protesters in Jammu and Kashmir, unless absolutely necessary to protect life.

The New York-based rights body has urged political parties and groups leading the protests to end their dispute peacefully and do all they can to prevent the violent acts.

The Human Rights Watch said the Indian security forces should abide by the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, which call upon the law enforcement officials, including members of the armed forces, to apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and only in proportion to the seriousness of the offense.

The UN principles allow use of lethal force only when it is unavoidable in order to protect life.

''With violence escalating, the troubled state Jammu and Kashmir is again on the brink of catastrophe,'' Meenakshi Ganguly, senior Asia researcher with Human Rights Watch, said yesterday. ''To end this cycle of tragedy, the government should order security forces to act with restraint and all parties should try to settle the dispute peacefully.'' ''Political leaders and civil society in Jammu and Kashmir should seek a mutually agreeable solution to the immediate crisis so that peace is restored,'' Ms Ganguly said. However, unless there is justice for the previous crimes, Jammu and Kashmir will remain a tinderbox that can be set aflame by anyone with a vested interest in the conflict, she added.

Violence erupted in Jammu and Kashmir after a state government decision in May 2008 to transfer land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board for raising infrastructure for the pilgrims. Once the decision became public in June, there were protest against the land transfer, and following the protest, the transfer order was revoked. That further led to widespread protest in Jammu to withdraw the revocation of land transfer order.

UNI XC RC RK0915

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