New Delhi, May 4 (UNI) The 'Amnesty International' today slammed Kashmiri terrorist groups for killing innocent people in Jammu and Kashmir and observed that while human rights violations by ''state agents'' had declined, violence by armed groups had not substantially reduced.
Expressing grave concern at the recent massacre of at least 35 'members of the Hindu community in two targeted attacks' in Jammu and Kashmir, the Amnesty called upon the state government to ensure prompt and independent investigation of the incidents to bring the perpetrators to justice.
It also appealed to armed groups to refrain from violence against civilians, including torture and deliberate killings.
''Deliberate attacks on civilians can never be justified and are prohibited under international law,'' the international human rights oganisation said in a statement issued here.
It said the attacks had occurred just two days before the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and separatist Hurriyat leaders. Separately, a new round of talk between India and Pakistan was held on May two to discuss further confidence-building measures.
The statement said some 30 armed opposition groups are active in the state...''As a result of the conflict, thousands of Hindus have fled the state and have for years been living in camps near Jammu and Delhi,'' the statement added.
Pointing out that peace talks between India and Pakistan had brought about a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LOC) and bus connections between the two sides, the Amnesty statement said armed groups had used violence on several occasions during this process to stall the talks which they oppose.
''Amnesty International has repeatedly called on them to cease using violence against civilians,'' it added.
It said armed groups had been accused of killing some 350 Hindus and Sikhs in the past six years in the state with some 116 members of the minority communitly reportedly killed in 2000 alone.
''Since the beginning of the peace talks, human rights violations by state agents have declined somewhat...Violence by armed groups does not appear to have substantively reduced during this period,'' the statement added.
UNI RB AK VC1602