ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has made renewed calls for an independent inquiry under international scrutiny into the extrajudicial killings of three labourers in Indian-occupied Kashmir in July.
The Indian troops killed three civilians — including a 16-year-old boy and a 25-year-old man who was father to a 15-month-old son — in the region’s Shopian district that has been the scene of frequent gunfights between Indian security forces and freedom fighters.
Initially, the army claimed to have killed three “hardcore terrorists” in Amshipora village during a search operation that led to a gunfight. It said the militants were hiding in a “cowshed of a lone house in the orchard”.
However, the official version began to unravel when family members of three missing persons from a remote village in Rajouri district filed a complaint with the police, and local activists raised concerns on social media.
Last week, after four months into the incident, Indian police indicted an army officer, Capt. Bhoopendra Singh, who used the alias Maj Bashir Khan, accusing him of the killings and staging the deaths as a fake gunfight.
A police inquiry revealed Singh, with assistance from two of his informers, killed the men, planted illegal weapons on the bodies and branded them “hardcore terrorists”.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudri said: “The revelations that weapons were planted on the bodies of the labourers martyred in occupied Kashmir — to make it look as though they were armed fighters in a staged gun battle — are only a tip of the iceberg of Indian crimes against the Kashmiri people.”
Allegations of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings of civilians have haunted the occupied region for decades as the Indian security forces have sought to crush the ongoing freedom movement, which they claim has an allegiance to Pakistan.
The Foreign Office observed the list of Indian crimes against the people of Kashmir was long. “More than 300 innocent Kashmiris, including women and children, have been martyred in fake encounters and staged cordon and search operations during the last one year.”
“Pakistan has been consistently drawing the international community’s attention towards extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris by the Indian occupation forces to further perpetuate India’s illegal occupation of the region.”
The statement recalled similar findings of extrajudicial killings had been reported by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in two reports on occupied Kashmir in 2018 and 2019.
“The horrific act of extra-judicial killing of the Kashmiri labourers, as well as other such acts over the past three decades, warrant investigation by a UN commission of inquiry, as recommended by the OHCHR, to expose the brutalities of Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir,” the FO said.
“Nothing short of an inquiry under international scrutiny will either meet the requirements of justice or be accepted by the Kashmiris people. No cover-up exercises can anymore hide India’s crimes and save it from international censure.”
“Pakistan reiterates its calls upon the international community to hold India accountable for its crimes against the Kashmiri people and work for the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” the statement said.