Harman Patil

2016 Kashmir unrest

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2016 Kashmir unrest
Date  8 July 2016 – 14 December 2016
Location  Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Causes  Killing of Burhan Wani Persistent militarisation of Kashmir Human rights abuses Reaction to Hindu nationalism Shrinking political space
Goals  Demilitarization of valley Repeal of AFSPA and Public Safety Act Independence/autonomy/self-determination for Kashmir
Methods  Protests Mob violence Stone-pelting General strikes
2 policemen killed 4,000+ security personnel injured  90+ civilians killed 15,000+ injured

The 2016 unrest in Kashmir, also known as the Burhan aftermath, refers to a series of violent protests in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley in the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir. It started with the killing of Burhan Wani, a militant commander of the Kashmir-based Hizbul Mujahideen, by Indian security forces on 8 July 2016. After his killing, anti-Indian protests started in all 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley. Protesters defied curfew with attacks on security forces and public properties.

Contents

Curfew was imposed in all 10 districts of the valley on 15 July and mobile services were suspended by the government. Kashmir valley remained under 53 days of consecutive curfew which was lifted from all areas on 31 August, however was reimposed in some areas the next day. Jammu and Kashmir Police and Indian paramilitary forces used pellet guns, tear gas shells, rubber bullets, as well as assault rifles, resulting in the deaths of more than 90 civilians, with over 15,000 civilians injured. Two security personnel also died while over 4,000 personnel were injured in the riots.

Background

In late 2015 and early 2016, observers of Kashmir reported growth in home-grown militancy and radicalisation of the Kashmiri population. Several reasons for this trend have been cited such as the absence of a political dialogue, the lack of economic opportunities, frustration due to high unemployment, excessive militarisation of the public space and repeated human rights violations by the security forces.

According to scholar-journalist Haris Zargar, the increasing radicalisation represented a counter-reaction to the shaping of the nationalist identity in India based on its rising middle class and Hindu nationalism. The rise of forceful Hindu nationalism affected how Kashmiri Muslims viewed the Indian state and reshaped their Kashmiri Muslim identity. The communal polarisation in India and the violence targeting Muslims are widely discussed in Kashmiri homes.

In the 2014 Indian general election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which subscribes to a Hindu nationalist ideology, won a majority in the Lower House of the Indian Parliament. Narendra Modi became the prime minister. In the state Legislative Assembly elections in the same year the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won a majority of the seats in the Kashmir region and the BJP won the majority of seats in the Jammu region. Even though both parties campaigned against each other, they joined together to form a coalition government, with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed becoming the chief minister. Following his death in 2016, his daughter Mehbooba Mufti took over as chief minister (first woman chief minister in region). The joining together of the two parties led to the perception of a shrinking political space. It is said to have formed the "final straw" in the people's disaffection.

The militant wing commanded by Burhan Wani, part of the Hizbul Mujahideen, has been dubbed "new-age militancy". It has been designated as a terrorist organisation. It has recruited local youth, educated and middle-class, who are conversant with social media and not afraid to reveal their identities. They have achieved an immense popularity among the Kashmiri population. When Waseem Malla and Naseer Ahmad Pandit, two of Burhan's associates were killed by security forces, tens of thousands of local Kashmiris came to attend the funeral and the funeral rites had to be repeated six times to allow all the mourners to participate. Some of the youths who recently became militants had campaigned for PDP during the general elections in 2014. According to PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baigh the killing of Burhan Wani was against supreme court rule, he was quoted saying, "To my knowledge and reports, the operation in which Burhan was killed was against a ruling of the Supreme Court. A constitution bench of the apex court, consisting of five judges and headed by chief justice, has given the judgment about the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) while carrying out operations even when AFSPA is in force".

Operation against Wani

On 8 July 2016, Burhan Wani was killed in a planned operation by the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Rashtriya Rifles. Following a tip-off that Wani was planning to come down from the Tral forest for Eid celebrations, he and two associates were cornered in the Kokernag area. According to police officials, after an exchange of fire, the house in which the militants were holed up was bombed, killing all three militants. However, eyewitnesses have stated that the three militants were shot down while trying to escape.

According to a police official, there were misgivings within the security establishment against killing Wani owing to his popularity, but they were not heeded by the authorities. Wani left home to become a militant at age 15 after an incident with the police that humiliated him. The Kashmiri youth angered by the "never-ending militarisation" of the Valley were drawn to him and his constant presence on social media made him a household name.

Journalist Fahad Shah stated that, with Wani's killing, the situation in Kashmir entered a period of "amplified instability". At Wani's funeral, an estimated 200,000 people came to mourn him, some of them from remote parts of the valley. Forty back-to-back funeral prayers were offered as well as a 21-gun salute by militants. Protesters had been demonstrating against his killing and continuous incidents of stone-pelting have been reported since the news of his death.

July

After the news of Burhan's death spread, protests erupted in some areas of Kashmir Valley. Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in some places in South Kashmir during the night, and internet services in many areas were cut. Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik called for a strike to protest against the killing of Wani. Geelani, along with other separatist leaders including Asiya Andrabi and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, called for a three-day shutdown in Kashmir to protest against the killing. Violent clashes broke out in response to the killing on 9 July in some areas. Over 20 police stations were attacked by mobs who stole weapons from the stations and fired upon the security forces. A BJP office in Kulgam was vandalised. Stone pelting was reported from many parts of Kashmir, including transit camps of Kashmiri Pandits. Train services and the pilgrimage to Amarnath Temple were suspended. All state board exams scheduled for 9 July were postponed, and all vehicular traffic was suspended on the Srinagar Jammu National Highway. By the end of the day, over 200 people were injured and 11 protestors were killed. By 10 July, more than 20 were confirmed to have died during the unrest. More than 300 CRPF personnel were reported to have been injured. In addition, many vehicles and buildings belonging to security forces were attacked during the day with a number of them being set ablaze. Some suspected militants hiding amongst protesters also threw grenades at the security personnels.

On 11 July, a mob of protesters tried to storm an Indian Air Force base, however they were dispersed. Several police stations and vehicles were burnt in many places across the region. The Amarnath pilgrimage was resumed on 11 July but suspended again on 13 July. It was resumed again on 16 July and suspended for a third time on 19 July, but resumed again on the next day. Separatist leaders called on the people of Kashmir to extend the shutdown to 13 July. On the night of 12 July about 200–300 Kashmiri Pandit employees fled the transit camps in Kashmir due to the constant attacks by protesters; the employees have held protests against the government demanding that all Kashmiri Pandit employees in Kashmir valley be evacuated immediately. Over 1300 government employees belonging to the community have fled the region during the unrest. On 12 July 800 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force were sent to Kashmir in addition to the 1,200 already sent on 9 July to aid the state's police. The house where Burhan was killed was set ablaze by a mob on suspicion that its residents had tipped off the security forces about Burhan. On 13 July, separatists again extended the shutdown call to 15 July.

On 15 July curfew was imposed in all districts of Kashmir and mobile phone networks were suspended. Also on the same day, the separatists extended the call for shutdown till 18 July. Re-opening of schools and colleges in Kashmir, which had been scheduled for 18 July, was postponed to 25 July due to the unrest. A mob tried to storm an army camp in Bandipora district on 17 July. Four people were injured in the incident; one was seriously injured but was later reported to be stable. The government announced on the same day that it was sending 2,000 additional CRPF personnel to Kashmir. On 18 July, the shutdown was extended till 21 July and then till 25 July on 20 July. Schools were ordered to be re-opened on 21 July in districts of Bandipora, Budgam, Ganderbal and Baramulla, although a vast majority of schools either remained shut or had a thin attendance amid the ongoing curfew.

Hurriyat chairman Geelani on 16 July wrote a letter to several international bodies and Heads of States in several countries outlining six measures that the Indian government should take for return of normalcy in the valley: acceptance of Kashmir's disputed status along with right to self-determination, demilitarisation of the valley, repealing of AFSPA and the Public Safety Act, release of all political prisoners in Kashmir along with restoration of their right to political activity, allowance to all international human rights and humanitarian organistations for working in the state and ensuring free political space to all parties in the state.

The law-and-order situation in the valley had started to improve by 24 July. In view of this, curfew was lifted from Ganderbal, Budgam, Bandipora, Barmulla districts and parts of Srinagar city, with Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure still remaining in force in the areas. On 25 July, the shutdown was extended till 29 July with the separatist leaders giving a call to march to Anantnag district on the same day and to Kulgam district by 27 July. People from many places in Kashmir answered the call to take part in the march, which was thwarted by the state police. Dozens of people were injured in the clashes as the police tried to stop the march. On 26 July, in view of the improving situation the curfew was lifted from all areas of the region except Anantnag, while restriction on assembly of four or more persons remained in effect. Many educational institutions in the region remained shut. Protests erupted in many areas after the lifting of the curfew, which was reimposed a day later in Kulgam district, Anantnag and some parts of Srinagar in view of the march called by separatists. It was later reimposed in Pulwama district and Shopian district as well.

On 28 July the shutdown was extended till 31 July. On 29 July violent clashes broke out in several places, with over 130 people reported injured. A large protest was held in Barmulla after the Friday prayers; protests were also held in front of the office of United Nations Military Observer Group (UNMOGIP) in Srinagar. During the day, separatists called for a march to the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar which was foiled when Geelani and Farooq were arrested to prevent it. 70 incidents of stone-pelting were reported, including attacks on army camps. During the protests, a government building in Rafiabad and an animal husbandry office in Shopian were set on fire, and a grenade lobbed in Shopian. On 30 July the curfew was limited to Anantnag, Pampore and Srinagar, with separitists extending the shutdown further till 5 August and calling for a march to Hazratbal Shrine on the day. On the same day, the cavalcade of state Education Minister Naeem Akhtar, who was travelling with MLC Yashir Reshi, was pelted with stones by crowds at Dangerpora and Shilwat. Security forces dispersed the protesters with tear gas and pepper gas.

August

On 1 August in Srinagar, protesters attacked state Education Minister Naeem Akhtar's residence with petrol bombs; Akhtar and his family were not present at the time. The cavalcade of Law and Rural Development Minister Abdul Haq was attacked with stones by protesters in Tangdhar area; Haq managed to escape the attack unhurt. A mob attacked the vehicle of the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) of Ramban with stones on the national highway near Lethpora and set it on fire after it was vacated. Two protesters were killed and another injured when a Personal Security Officer of the ADC fired on the crowd in retaliation. The CRPF, who have a camp near the area, rescued the ADC and dispersed the crowd.

The unrest also started spreading to the Chenab valley region of Jammu Division in August with shutdowns being observed in Kishtwar, Doda, Banihal, Bhaderwah and Thathri. Protests against civilian casualties in Kashmir took place in Doda with people shouting pro-freedom slogans. On 5 August curfew was imposed in several places in view of the march called by separatists. Three people were killed and 674 injured during violent clashes that erupted after Friday prayers. Security forces prevented the separatists from marching to Hazratbal shrine and arrested Geelani and Farooq. The shutdown was extended by the separatists till 12 August. On 11 August security forces prevented a planned separatist march to the "martyr's graveyeard" of Eidgah in Srinagar and arrested Geelani and Farooq. The separatists extended the shutdown till 18 August and asked Kashmiris to observe a "black day" on 15 August. Curfew was extended in several parts of Kashmir the next day in view of the call given by separatists to people for marching to the Eidgah on 13 and 14 August. The next day after Friday prayers, violent protests erupted in several cities, during which hundreds of people were injured. Protests after Friday prayers also took place in Doda against the civilian deaths in Kashmir. Many were injured in the clashes that broke out, with police and protesters blaming each other for stone-pelting and baton charge respectively. The Seerat committee called for a three-day shutdown against alleged police action.

Most parts of Kashmir were placed under curfew on 13 August in view of the weekend protests called by separatists. A march to Lal Chowk called by separatists for demanding referendum was prevented by security forces, with dozens of people injured. On Pakistan's Independence Day, flags of Pakistan were hoisted at many places across Kashmir and pro-Pakistan rallies were carried out, with dozens of people reported injured when security personnel tried to disperse them. In addition, 21 incidents of stone-pelting across the region were reported. A rally in a village of Kulgam was addressed by four militants who raised Pakistan's flags and offered gun salutes to it. Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi was injured along with many other protesters while leading a rally consisting exclusively of women in Tral when security personnel lobbed teargas shells at them to disperse them. On 15 August, one protester was killed in firing by security forces in Srinagar while another succumbed to his wounds received in firing at Tangmarg a few days earlier. On 16 August, five protesters were killed due to firing by security personnel in clashes. Four protesters were killed in Arpianthan village of Beerwah in Budgam district. The police claimed they were fired upon by CRPF after they pelted stones at its convoy, while the village residents claimed they were fired upon without any provocation. Another protester was killed in Larkipora in Anatnag. According to the police, he was killed when the security forces fired upon the protesters after they started throwing projectiles while the residents claimed they only held a peaceful protest and were fired upon without any provocation.

On 17 August, a march called by the separatists to the office of UNMOGIP, in Srinagar, was stopped by security forces who arrested the separatist leaders and sealed all roads leading to the office. The protesters then held sit-in protests. On the same day, a person was killed after the Indian Army raided a village of Khrew. According to the residents, he was beaten to death under the Army's custody, while the police claimed he died during a clash between the residents and the Army. In addition, the house of the MLA of Shopian, Mohammed Yousuf Bhat, was attacked by a mob who set a security guard room and a motorcycle on fire. The separatists also extended the shutdown till 25 August. On 19 August at least 120 people were injured in widespread clashes between protestors and Indian security forces. Indian security forces also forbade local Muslims for a 6th week from assembling at Srinagar's Jamia Mosque for communal Friday prayers. Security forces also prevented a march called by separatists to the village in Budgam where 4 civilians were killed a day earlier.

On 21 August, a youth was killed after being hit by a teargas shell in Srinagar while over 70 people were injured in protests across the region, including about 60 people in a village of Rafiabad Tehsil. Pro-freedom rallies were held at Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama, with 40,000 people attending a rally in a Shopian village addressed by separatists including Geelani. About 20 people were injured when security forces tried to disperse people from a rally in a Shopian village. The Border Security Force (BSF) was removed from counter-insurgency operations and deployed to maintain law and order in Srinagar for the first time in 12 years on 22 August. On 23 August, two special police officers in Sopore resigned from their posts after their houses were attacked by mobs.

On 24 August, a youth died after receiving injuries in a clash with the security forces in Pinglema village in Pulwama. In addition, 9 policemen were reportedly injured on the same day when a grenade was lobbed at them from a crowd of protestors in Pulwama. On the same day, the separatists extended the shutdown till 1 September. Another youth was killed on 26 August when security personnel fired upon protesters in Hall village of Pulwama. More than 200 people were injured in protests across the region. Security forces tried to prevent a march to the Eidgah in Srinagar called by the separatists was, however, some protesters managed to reach it. The forces fired teargas shells to disperse the crowd, with 6 people being injured in the forces' action. A march called by the separatists to the headquarters of XV Corps of Indian Army on 27 August was prevented with Geelani being arrested. Hurriyat released a letter titled "Quit JK" asking the Army to leave the state. A body of a youth was found in the Jhelum river in Sangam, Anantnag. According to witnesses, he had jumped in the river to escape from the security personnel in protests that occurred a day earlier and had drowned. Curfew was lifted from most parts of the region excluding Pulwama and Nowhatta and Maharajganj areas of Srinagar on 28 August. On 29 August, curfew was reimposed in some parts after fresh clashes in which 12 people were injured. Curfew was lifted from Pulwama on 30 August, leaving only 2 areas of Srinagar as regions still remaining under curfew. Protests by women were held in the region during the day with Dukhtaran-e-Millat holding a rally in Mohammadpora in Kulgam. More than 50 people were injured in clashes during the day. Curfew was lifted from all parts of Kashmir on 31 August. One person was killed while over 100 were injured in clashes during the day. A police quarters and house of Rajya Sabha member of PDP, Nazir Ahmad Laway were set on fire by protesters in Hanad Chawalgam of Kulgam district. Meanwhile, the separatists extended the curfew till 8 September.

September

Curfew was reimposed in Nowhatta and Maharajganj areas of Srinagar as well as Baramulla on 1 September. A protester drowned in the Jhelum in Srinagar after he was allegedly chased by security forces. The police however denied there was any deployment of forces in the area. Curfew was reimposed in most places of the region on 2 September including Srinagar, Badgam, Ganderbal, Bandipora and Handwara. More than 50 people were injured in clashes during the day while at least 35 incidents of stone-pelting were reported. The next day, curfew was lifted from most parts it had been reimposed a day earlier, with only some areas of Srinagar remaining under curfew. Meanwhile, a youth was killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in Qazigund. Over 600 people were reported to have been injured during clashes on 4 September with the office of Deputy Commissioner in Shopian being set on fire. On 5 September, a youth who had been wounded a day earlier in the protests, succumbed to his injuries in Sopore. In addition, over 120 people were injured during the day as security forces tried to foil pro-freedom rallies. In Zangalpora village of Kulgam, protesters set a policeman's house on fire when the security forces tried to disperse a pro-freedom rally.

On 6 September, over 150 people were injured during protests in Kashmir with over 100 protesters being injured in Seer Hamdan village alone after security forces used pellet guns on them. A protester was also killed in the action by the security forces. Meanwhile, separatist leaders extended the shutdown till 16 September. On 7 September, over 250 protests were injured including more than 160 in Pulwama and more than 60 in Kulgam as security forces tried to prevent pro-freedom rallies from being carried out. A Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya school in Kulgam caught fire after teargas shells lobbed by security forces landed inside the school's compound. Meanwhile, a rest house in Chawalgam village of Kulgam was set on fire after protesters hurled petrol bombs at it. Curfew and restrictions on assembly of people were lifted from all parts of the region on the same day, however were reimposed in most parts of Srinagar on 9 September. It was however lifted again the very next day. Two protesters were killed on 10 September in clashes with security forces. One of the deceased was killed in Shopian after being hit by a teargas shell while the other was killed in Anantnag when security forces used pellet guns on protesters. A youth succumbed to bullet wounds on 11 September, while over 250 people were injured in the clashes including over 150 in Karimabad village of Pulwama.

Curfew was reimposed on 13 September across the entire region in view of the call given by separatists for a march to the UN offices in Kashmir, while helicopters and drones were deployed to keep a watch on the situation. This was the first time in 26 years that curfew had been imposed in the region during Eid al-Adha. Eid congregations were also barred from being held at the Eidgah and Hazratbal Shrine. Two protesters were also killed in clashes in clashes with security forces on the same day. A youth was found dead with bruise marks in a village in Sopore on 14 September. Locals alleged that he had been beaten to death by the army after he and other protesters pelted their camp with stones. The army however denied this allegation while the state police ordered an inquiry into the incident. Massive protests broke out after the news of his death spread, with security forces using teargas shelling to disperse the protesters. On 15 September, the shutdown was extended till 22 September. On 16 September, a protester who had been injured on 9 September, succumbed to his death while over 50 people were injured in clashes during the day including 15 in Dooru village and 20 in Sopore. On 17 September, the body of an 11-year-old boy, who went missing in protests on the previous day in Harwan, was found near a stream at Dachigam National Park and hadbeen hit by pellets. Protests erupted in Harwan and other areas after the news of his death spread. Several people were injured in the protests. On 18 September, curfew was imposed in Pulwama and Barmulla in view of the call given by separatists to march to these two districts and Srinagar.

On 19 September, curfew was lifted from all areas except some parts of Kashmir in view of the improving situation. A 19-year-old girl died of cardiac arrest dueing clashes between protesters and security forces in Shopian district while a school in Vehil village of the district was burnt under mysterious circumstances. The police blamed the protesters for setting it on fire, however locals denied the accusation. Another school in Anantnag district was also burnt under mysterious circumstances. On 20 September, more than 50 people were wounded when security forces tried to thwart pro-freedom rallies and allegedly beat up residents at various places. Meanwhile, many areas in Chenab valley observed a shutdown after a call given by Hurriyat to protest against the killings. Curfew was lifted from 3 areas in Srinagar on 21 September. Meanwhile, more than 40 people were wounded in clashes across the region. Meanwhile, family members of Hurriyat president of Barmulla district, Abdul Ghani Bhat, alleged that his house in Sopore had been vandalised by policemen, however the state police rejected these allegations. Family members of another Hurriyat leader, Muhammad Yousuf Falahi, also alleged that his house in Muloo village of Chitragam in Shopian had been vandalised Meanwhile, the shutdown was extended by the separatists till 29 September. On 22 September, curfew was imposed in Anantnag district in view of the call for a protest march to the district given by the separatists. On 23 September, a protester was killed in Nadihal when security forces opened fire on a mob throwing stones at their convoy. More protests erupted after his death while over 30 people were injured in clashes across the region. Curfew was lifted from all parts of Kashmir on 25 September while the separatists also declared a temporary relaxation in the shutdown. It was reimposed in Kishtwar after clashes erupted due to arrests of three youths for disturbing law and order.

On 27 September, a girl was killed while another was injured in Parimpora area of Srinagar when a vehicle moving backwards allegedly due to stone pelting. The residents however denied there was any stone-pelting in the area. On 28 September, the shutdown was extended till 6 October. On 29 September, curfew was lifted from Kishtwar, while night curfew remained in place.

November

On 16 November, separatists announced a full-day relaxation for two days on 19 and 20 November. This is the first such relaxation to occur since the beginning of the unrest.

December

The separatists increased the full-day relaxation to five days on 14 December, calling for shutdown on two days. They also stated on 16 December that they will come up with an annual protest programme soon.

Casualties

More than 100 people including 2 policemen have died during the unrest. Over 19,000 people including more than 15,000 civilians as well as 4,000 security personnel have been injured in the unrest. According to local doctors, at least 117 civilians were likely to lose their eyesight as a result of injuries caused by buckshot blasts. Three policemen went missing on 9 July and one was killed on 10 July during protests in Anantnag district when a mob pushed his vehicle into the Jhelum river. Another policeman died on 24 July, succumbing to injuries received on 15 July during an attack on a police station in Kulgam. Two of the missing policemen were later traced by the state police and were found to have become incommunicado after mobile services were cut. Security forces were not able to find the third policeman, or a large cache of arms that went missing after a police station in south Kashmir was immolated. On 18 September 2016, 18 Indian Army soldiers were killed during an attack by militants in Uri. The target was a Brigade headquarters.

Use of pellet guns

Indian security forces trying to control the Kashmiri agitators have used pellet guns, which, although billed as "non-lethal", led to a high number of casualties including permanent eye injuries. In total during the 2016 uprising, 10 civilians were killed by pellet gunfire.

Seventy-seven people were injured, with two killed and many losing their eyesight, between 8–12 July 2016. Due to the medical emergency in Kashmir, there was a shortage of eye specialists who could treat the injured lying in Kashmiri hospitals. In Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital of Srinagar, over 200 patients were admitted by 13 July with the same problem. A five-year-old, Zohra Zahoor, had pellet wounds in her legs, forehead and abdomen, and is one of the youngest victims from the region; she was admitted to a hospital in Srinagar. Human Rights Watch strongly condemned the use of pellet guns on protesters and called it a failure of the authorities to respect basic human rights. According to a Sky News report, the Indian paramilitary fired up to 3,800 cartridges between July and August, each containing 450 metallic balls, totalling up to 1.7 million pellets.

A team of three eye-specialists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, headed by ophthalmologist Prof Sudarshan K. Kumar, reached Kashmir to help the local doctors in treating the pellet gun injuries. After watching the condition of patients in the hospital, they described it as a "war-like situation". By 22 July, the SMHS Hospital has received at least 182 patients with eye injuries, mostly due to pellets with more than 137 eye surgeries having taken place. Another team of three eye-specialists, led by renowned ophthalmologist Sundaram Natarajan of Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Mumbai, organized by Adhik Kadam of Borderless World Foundation arrived in the region on 26 July to treat eye injuries caused by the pellets and performed over 40 retinal surgeries in 3 days. By 28 August, 570 people injured by the guns had been treated in the SMHS hospital and 425 eye surgeries were performed. About 3,000 civilians have been injured due to pellet guns as of 24 August.

Media blackout

On 9 July, mobile internet services were suspended in Kashmir as well as in Jammu region to prevent the rumour-mongering. On 16 July, the Jammu and Kashmir government imposed a press emergency. The police raided the newspaper installations and seized copies of newspapers and printing plates. They said that, in view of the curfew, movement of newspaper staff and the distribution of newspapers would not be possible "for a few days". Landline and mobile telephone services were cut off, except for the lines of a government-owned company, BSNL. Internet services remained suspended. Cable television was also shut off, ostensibly to stop Pakistani channels from being broadcast.

On 19 July, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti denied that there was a ban on newspapers, and her advisor Amitabh Mattoo hinted that the decision might have been taken at the "local level". Mattoo also declared that newspapers would be able to print from 19 July. However, the newspapers refused to publish on Tuesday, claiming there were uncertainties about the restrictions. One editor also asked the government to "own the ban" and issue a statement guaranteeing that the media would not be hampered. The chief minister held a meeting with the Srinagar-based newspaper editors, expressing regret for the restrictions and assuring them that their work would not be hampered. Following this, the newspapers went to press on Wednesday, delivering them on Thursday. The senior superintendent of police of Budgam district Fayaz Ahamad Lone was held responsible for raiding the press and transferred.

Mobile internet was restored in Jammu on 26 July. Mobile telephone services were restored on 27 July for most of the postpaid and some of the prepaid numbers in Kashmir. Mobile internet was suspended again in Jammu on 5 August in view of the growing unrest in Chenab valley however they were restored later in the same day. Mobile telephone services in Kashmir were suspended again on 11 August. In addition, all broadband services were suspended in Kashmir on 13 August resulting in Internet being completely cut off in the region. Broadband internet was restored on 18 August. Mobile services were again partially restored in Kashmir on 20 August.

On 12 September, the state government ordered suspension of all internet services and mobile phone services in Kashmir excluding postpaid connections of BSNL for a period of 72 hours.

Newspaper ban

Kashmir Reader, a prominent English newspaper which is published in Srinagar, was indefinitely banned by the state authorities on September 30. It was asked to stop publication on the evening of Sunday, October 2. The daily was accused of publishing material that "tends to incite acts of violence" and “disturb public peace and tranquility”. Human rights group Amnesty International said the ban was a "setback to free speech" and called on authorities to revoke the order. The "order does not specifically mention any news items in Kashmir Reader that incited violence," said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India. On 28 December, the newspaper resumed publication after the government lifted the ban after nearly three months.

Arrest of human rights activist

Khurram Parvez, a prominent Kashmiri human rights activist, was first stopped by Indian authorities at New Delhi airport on 14 September to prevent him from attending the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva. Parvez was later arrested on 15 September by Indian officials from his home in Srinagar. On 21 September, a day after a sessions court ordered his release, Khurram Parvez had been detained a second time under Public Safety Act (PSA). After 76 days of detention, on 30 November he was finally released from prison following the orders of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

Action against security personnel

Fayaz Ahamad Lone, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Budgam district who had ordered the police forces to raid press offices and stop the publication of newspapers, was transferred to the State Disaster Response Fund as a commandant. Two officers were later transferred from South Kashmir, which has been most affected by the violent protests: the deputy inspector general of police in South Kashmir and the senior superintendent of police in Anantnag.

The SSP in Srinagar was directed on 19 July by a local court to register a case against a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and other police personnel for allegedly murdering an innocent youth after breaking into his house during the unrest on 10 July. It also ordered that the case could not be investigated by anyone below the rank of DSP. Instead of registering a case against the DSP, the state police registered a case against the youth over various offences and alleged that he was leading a procession on the day he was killed. The court rejected the argument and ordered the SSP to register a case against the DSP within a day. A non-bailable warrant was later issued against the SSP for not obeying the court order and registerig a case within the allotted time-period. The SSP was produced in the court by the Deputy Inspector General of Police of Central Kashmir and was granted bail while being ordered to file his statement and register the case against the accused DSP A petition against the filing of the report against the DSP was dismissed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court who directed the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Srinagar to initiate contempt proceedings against the SSP if the report was not registered. The Supreme Court however stayed the contempt proceedings against the SSP as well as the Inspector General of Police in Kashmir on 9 August. The court directed the state government on 12 August to exhume the body of the youth and conduct an autopsy. His autopsy report was submitted to the Supreme Court on 26 September 2016, with the report concluding that he had died due to pellet injuries and not because of a bullet.

A CRPF sub-inspector who shot an ambulance driver on 18 August was suspended the following day over the incident. On 18 August, a probe was ordered into the death of a person who was killed after the raid of the Indian Army in a Khrew village on the same day. D.S. Hooda admitted the next day that the person was beaten to death by soldiers and stated the raid on the village was unsanctioned.

India

On 9 July, Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed for people to maintain peace and calm in Kashmir. On 10 July, the state government appealed to all the political parties including the separatists for help in restoring normalcy in the valley. Separatist leader Geelani agreed and asked the Kashmir is to remain "disciplined" while Farooq ridiculed the appeal for help. Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti appealed for calm in the state on 12 July. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over the unrest in the state and appealed for calm while assuring help to the state government.

The opposition Congress party chairperson Sonia Gandhi expressed deep anguish at the loss of innocent lives. She pointed out the considerable advances made over the last two decades and appealed to Kashmiris to let the political parties find durable ways of fulfilling people's aspirations. Congress also dispatched a fact-finding team made of senior leaders Ambika Soni and Salman Khurshid, who criticised the government for discontinuing the development policies and for the excessive use of force in dealing with protesters. The party has demanded an all-party meet to discuss the Kashmir situation.

South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, Meenakshi Ganguly, said that stone-pelting does not give the police a "free pass" to use force. She pointed out that the main grievance of the protestors is exactly the failure of the authorities to ensure human rights. Women's activist and CPM party leader Kavita Krishnan termed the killing of Burhan Wani an "extrajudicial killing." She pointed out the Supreme Court decree that required every single encounter to be followed by a FIR and a magisterial enquiry. Writer Arundhati Roy asked for an honest conversation about what kind of azadi (freedom) the Kashmiris are demanding.

On 17 July, Minister of State for External Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh urged people of Kashmir to cooperate with the government and stated that they are being misguided by unwanted elements. On 19 July, Home Minister Rajnath Singh blamed Pakistan for the violence in Kashmir. In a statement to the Rajya Sabha, he said, "Whatever is happening in Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored. The name is 'Pakistan', but its acts are na-pak (impure)."

An all-party meet involving all political parties of Kashmir was held on 21 July with the aim of building a consensus on measures to restore normalcy. The Jammu & Kashmir National Conference boycotted the meeting, blaming the government for the situation in the valley. Panun Kashmir, an organisation for displaced Kashmiri Pandits said on 22 July that the union government should recognise the "fundamentalist upsurge" in Kashmir and asked it to take immediate steps to prevent it from becoming an "Islamist-controlled territory". It also demanded that the government publish a report detailing attacks on Kashmiri Hindus.

A two-day visit by Singh beginning on 23 July was announced, in which Singh will visit Kashmir in order to try to calm down the situation and review the law and order situation. After arrival he held a meeting with some local entrepreneurs, houseboat owners, Muslim clerics, members of the Sikh community, members of the Kashmiri Pandit community, and civilians. The meeting was boycotted by several trade bodies, with their officials saying that they boycotted the meeting due to killings of civilians and past meetings produced no results. Later in the day, he met Governor Narinder Nath Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. On the second day he met leaders of various political parties and members of civil society, with the Congress party boycotting the meeting.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on 28 July expressed anguish over the loss of lives and injuries in the region while appealing to the people of the valley to maintain calm. The party later critisiced Mufti and for not knowing about Burhan's presence during the encounter and blamed the unrest in the state on her. It also criticised the Union government for continuing talks with Pakistan despite the unrest. Supreme Court of India on 29 July sought a report from the Union Government over the situation in Kashmir while assuring that it will give all possible help to Kashmiri civilians. On 8 August, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Prime Minister must call an all-party meeting to discuss the situation which should be followed by an all-party delegation to the region.

An all-party conference on the unrest was announced on 10 August along with a visit by an all-party delegation to the region to hold talks with various sections. During the meeting held in New Delhi on 12 August, various suggestions were made for restoration of normalcy. On the suggestion of holding talks with separatists, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the decision to hold the talks will be taken based upon the prevailing situation. Former Home Minister P. Chidambaram on 17 August blamed the state and union government for the unrest in the region which he stated was sliding into chaos. A meeting of all opposition political parties in Jammu and Kashmir was held on the same day with resolutions demanding probe into an enquiry by a retired Supreme Court Judge over allegations of use of excessive force, special assembly session on the unrest and the start of a political dialogue with Pakistan about the Kashmir dispute were passed. During the meeting, the participants also decided that a delegation of opposition political parties will meet the President Pranab Mukherjee over the unrest.

On 19 August 2016, former Chief Minister of Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah stated that Indian forces were "unleashing a reign of terror in Kashmir" that would damage India's global reputation. On the same day, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of India's Northern Command reached out to separatist leaders, stating that their help was required to restore normalcy in the region. In addition, a delegation consisting of opposition parties from the state met the President and requested him to impress upon the union government to initiate a political dialogue with all stakeholders and to acknowledge it as a political issue. They also requested the President to impress upon the government to not to use lethal force against civilians and claimed that instead of the government, it was the opposition parties were taking steps to restore calm while also blaming it for the unrest in the state. The delegation also met the Prime Minister on 22 August, submitting a memorandum to him in which it demanded that the central government start a political dialogue with all stakeholders to end the unrest and ban the use of pellet guns. During the meeting, Modi expressed concern over the situation in the state and asked all political parties work together to find a "permanent and lasting" solution.

Janata Dal (United) on 21 August advised that an all-party delegation under leadership of the Prime Minister or Home Minister should visit the region and hold talks with mainstream parties for finding a way to restore normalcy. Arun Jaitley on 21 August dubbed stone-throwers as attackers while blaming Pakistan for the unrest and stated that there will be no compromise with people indulging in violence.

The Home Minister again visited Kashmir on 24 August to hold a dialogue with various stakeholders. On the first day, he took a review of the security situation in a meeting which was attended by top Army, police and state officials. He advised them to use maximum restraint while dealing with protesters and appreciated their efforts in keeping law and order. He also held a meeting with delegations of several political parties. Most of the parties demanded resumption of talks initiation talks with separatists. There was also a near unanimous consensus among political parties regarding a ban on use of pellet guns. The meeting was boycotted by many trade bodies of the state. Singh also met with state Governor NN Vohra who briefed him anout the internal security situation in Kashmir and steps needed to be taken for restoration of normalcy.

The next day, the state's Chief Minister held a press meet along with Singh which she stormed out of after getting upset over allegations of her government's disproportionate use of force while criticing Omar Abdullah's government during the 2010 unrest. Singh promised to look into alternatives to peller guns and also stated that he is willing to talk with separatists. Mufti while meeting with Modi over the unrest on 27 August, called for creating a mechanism of interlocutors to hold talks with all stakeholders and blamed Pakistan for fuelling the unrest. The next day, Modi said that unity and compassion were the "twin mantras" for solving the Kashmir issue and critisiced those inciting the youth of the region to violence saying they will have to answer to them someday. He also deplored the loss of life in the unrest, saying that the loss of anyone's life was a loss for the whole country and they should do whatever it takes to restore peace in the region. On the same day, Mufti said that talks should be held with anyone willing to reject violence and restore peace in the state while also stating the format of dialogue needs to better than past attempts. She also critisiced people instigating the youth to violence. An announcement regarding an all-party delegation scheduled to visit Kashmir on 4 September was made on 29 August. The delegation was announced to being led by Rajnath Singh with the goal of holding talsk with various sections of the society in order to restore calm in the region. During a press conference with United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on 30 August, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar commented on the unrest stating a small percentage of people were holding the majority "at ransom" in the valley.

The all-party delegation that arrived on 4 September met various representatives on its first day of visit. The separatists refused to meet the delegation, while Mufti wrote a letter inviting them for talking with the delegation. A delegation of the ruling party that met the all-part delegation stated that there was an "urgent need to initiate a result-oriented dialogue to solve the Kashmir issue". A delegation of National Conference stated in a memorandum to the all-party delegation that the frequent unrests in Kashmir was due to a sense of alienation among Kashmiris that arose due to the Union government's refusal to address the injustices meted out to them in the name of national interest and integration. On the same day, Mufti commented that there was a need for unconditional dialogue with all stakeholders. Some members of the delegation tried to meet some of the separatist leaders who however refused to talk to them excluding Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who briefly talked with All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi. According to Owaisi, Farooq had told him that the separatists had decided not to hold talks because the government was not serious about political dialogue. Rajnath Singh critisiced the separatists for not talking with the members saying they did not believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat (humanity) and Jamhooriyat (democracy). The visit of the all-party delegation concluded on 5 September. In its two-day visit, it met with over 30 delegations comprising over 300 members representing various sections of the Kashmiri society.

21 Sufi clerics met Singh on 6 September and requested his permission to carry out an "Aman Yatra" in Kashmir and hold talks with the locals. The clerics also stated that no dialogue should be held with separatists and alleged Pakistan was being behind the unrest. On 7 September, the all-party delegation that had visited Kashmir asked the Central government to hold talks with all stakeholders however stated that there could be no compromise on the issue of national sovereignty. On 10 September, National Conference expressed grief over the deaths of protesters and stated that the situation was worsening with every passing day. It alleged that the Chief Minister of the State was being insensitive and ruthless.

On 11 September, Rajnath Singh directed the security forces crack down on all those who were instigating the youth in the region in order to restore normalcy.

Pakistan

On 11 July, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a statement expressed "shock" over the killing of Burhan Wani and other civilians by the Indian security forces. He also said that it was "deplorable that excessive and unlawful force was used against the civilians". The Indian government responded by saying that the Pakistan government's view on Wani's killing reflected its association with terrorism and advised it to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of India. On 13 July, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif condemned the killings of protesters by Indian security forces.

Sharif declared Wani as a "martyr" on 15 July and said 19 July will be held as a "black day" to express solidarity with Kashmiri people. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs in response criticised Pakistan for "glorifying" terrorists belonging to proscribed terrorist organisations. The observance of the "black day" was postponed by Pakistan's government to 20 July while 19 July was instead observed as "Kashmir's Accession Day" to Pakistan.

A rally called "Kashmir Caravan" organised by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and led by Hafiz Saeed was launched on 19 July at Lahore in support of the freedom demands of the Kashmiri people. Members of various religious organisations are expected to join the rally. The rally's objective during the first phase will be Pakistan's capital Islamabad. During the second phase it is scheduled to reach Muzaffarabad and Chakothi. In the third phase, the rally is planned to cross into Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The "black day" was observed by Pakistan's government on 20 July as scheduled. All government officials were directed to wear black arm bands and prayers for Kashmiris were scheduled during the afternoon. In addition, all diplomatic missions of Pakistan were scheduled to hold special ceremonies to highlight the issue and overseas Pakistanis would hold demonstrations outside offices of United Nations around the world. In a special message, Sharif said that India had no option but to accept "defeat" in front of the "freedom wave" in Kashmir.

Sharif declared that Pakistan will approach the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of itself and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to request it to send a fact-finding team over the killings of civilians in Kashmir and banning the use of pellet guns on them. Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi met with UN officials on 19 July in which she briefed them on the situation in Kashmir and forwarded letters by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz who raised the issue of civilians being killed during the unrest and said that fundamental human rights of Kashmiris were being violated.

A JuD official reported on 25 July that a 30-member medical team of its "Muslim Medical Mission" will apply for visas to India in order to treat the injured Kashmiri civilians and will seek help of Pakistan's government in getting the visas. The mission's president also threatened to hold demonstrations if the Indian government denied visas to it. The Indian Embassy in Islamabad did not allow the team to enter its premises when they went there to apply for visa on 26 July. However, the team was able to apply for visa through the internet and courier. A caravan of the JuD bringing relief material for the Kashmiris was stopped on 2 August by Pakistani security forces at Chakothi. The organisation declared that they would not leave unless India accepted the relief material.

On 1 August, the Parliament of Pakistan unanimously passed a resolution criticising the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir by Indian security forces during the unrest and demanded the UNHRC to send a team to the region to investigate it. On 3 August, ahead of the SAARC Interior Ministers' Conference, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the situation "a new wave of freedom movement," and said, "The Kashmiri youth are writing new chapters of sacrifices to get the right to self determination." On 6 August, Pakistan's government also offered to provide medical treatment to people injured in the unrest and requested on the international community to ask the Indian government to allow it to provide treatment to injured Kashmiris which was disparaginly rejected by the Indian government. On 26 August, Sartaj Aziz met ambassadors of United Nations Security Council and European Union. In the meeting, he briefed the ambassadors about the "killings and human rights violations" by Indian security forces in Kashmir and deplored the use of "lethal force" against innocent civilians.

On 1 September, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakariya stated that Sharif had written another letter to Ban Ki-moon alleging the situation in Kashmir was deteriorating and requested him for sending a fact-finding mission to probe alleged human rights violations in the region. On 6 September, Awais Leghari who is a part of the delegation of 22 members of parliament selected to highlight the situation in Kashmir, briefed the presidents of Human Rights Council and International Committee of the Red Cross over the alleged human rights violations committed by Indian security forces in Kashmir during the unrest and spoke out against their use of pellet guns. On 7 September, General Raheel Sharif stated that the solution for the Kashmir issue lay in heeding to the voices of the Kashmiris and respecting their aspirations, not in firing bullets upon them. He also alleged that Kashmiris were suffering from "worst form of state terrorism" and "repression".

On 13 September, Nawaz Sharif dedicated the festival of Eid al-Adha to "sacrifices of Kashmiris" and stated that their voices cannot be suppressed through force. President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain in a message also stated that people of Kashmiris were atrocities for their demands of self-determination and Pakistanis must support them. During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on 21 September, Nawaz Sharif dubbed Burhan Wani as a "young leader" who had emerged as a symbol of the latest "Kashmiri Intifada" while calling for an independent inquiry into the alleged extrajudicial killings committed by Indian security forces in Kashmir.

United Nations

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon conveyed his concern over the Kashmir tense situation as reported by his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric and called for maximum restraint from all parties. He also offered mediation between India and Pakistan for solving the Kashmir dispute, provided both countries agreed to his mediation. The United Nations Human Rights Commission requested the Indian government to let it visit Kashmir in order to investigate the alleged human rights abuses, however the request was unanimously rejected during a meeting on the unrest in New Delhi on 12 August by all political parties alleging it to be an interference in the country's internal affairs. On 17 August, United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad appealed to the Indian and Pakistani governments to allow its observers access to the region. On 12 August, Ban Ki-moon responded to a letter by Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the Kashmir situation, stating: "I deplore the loss of life and hope that all efforts will be made to avoid further violence... The United Nations remains convinced that it is only through dialogue that the outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, including on Kashmir, can be addressed." On 13 September, Prince Zeid again requested both the countries to grant unconditional access to observers for probing human rights violations in Kashmir.

United States

Spokesperson John Kirby while briefing the media in Washington on 12 July said that the United States was concerned about the violence in Jammu & Kashmir during which 30 people have been killed by Indian forces.

Elizabeth Trudeau, Director, United States Press Office in the Department, who briefed the media on Thursday 14 July 2016, said that the US is concerned about the violence and deaths of civilians in Kashmir and stated that the US government was in touch with the Government of India as well as the Government of Pakistan.

Kirby again addressed the situation in the valley during late July expressing his government's concern about the violence in Kashmir and called on all sides to find a peaceful solution while stating that the American government was in close touch with the Indian government over the issue

According to a statement issued by the office of the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister met Senator John Kerry in September, and both of them expressed their "strong concern" over the violence in Kashmir, particularly the attack on an army base in Uri. On the contrary, the official press release by the US State department mentioned that Secretary Kerry reiterated the need for Pakistan to prevent all terrorists from using Pakistani territory as safe havens, while commending recent efforts by Pakistani security forces to counter extremist violence.

European Union

In a statement issued by its spokesperson Michael Mann on 28 July, the European Union expressed its condolences to the civilians killed and injured during the unrest while urging the restoration of calm and maintenance of law and order in the state. He also urged India and Pakistan to involve people of Kashmir in the dialogue process over the state.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation

In July 2016, Organization of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission expressed serious concern over alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian military and para-military forces. In August, OIC's secretary-general Iyad bin Amin Madani during a press conference in Islamabad said human rights violations in Kashmir were "not an internal matter of the Indian state", adding: "The international community should raise its voice against the atrocities in India-held Kashmir... The situation in Kashmir is heading towards a referendum. No one should be afraid of a referendum and the solution should be through the United Nations resolutions."

On 19 September, the OIC's contact group on Kashmir met on the sidelines of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. Amin again expressed concerns over the situation in Kashmir and called for an immediate settlement of the dispute in accordance with wishes of Kashmiri people and resolutions of United Nations Security Council, while calling on India to immediately stop committing "atrocities" in Kashmir. The foreign minister of Turkey emphasised the need to resolve the dispute, while Azerbaijan's foreign minister called on the OIC to explore "innovative means to highlight the human rights violations" occurring in Indian-administered Kashmir.

China

The spokesman of China's Foreign Ministry, Lu Kang, in a statement to the press, expressed the government's concern over the casualties due to the unrest and called for a proper settlement of the Kashmiri issue through peaceful means. Pakistani media reports claimed that China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang assured his country's support to Islamabad, emphasising a better understanding viz. Pakistan's position on Kashmir by the international community, adding: "We support Pakistan and will speak for Pakistan at every forum." Li also encouraged de-escalation of tensions between Pakistan and India. But on the other hand the official press release by China's Foreign ministry on the meeting between Keqiang and Sharif made no mention of Kashmir whatsoever.

Turkey

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in a joint press conference with Pakistani Prime Minister's foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz on 2 August said that his country backed Pakistan's position of sending a team from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in order to probe the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. He also said that his country hoped the Kashmir issue will be resolved through dialogue.

Italy

Pakistani media reports claimed that Italy's defence minister Roberta Pinotti while on a visit to Pakistan said the use of force and lethal weapons by security forces against civilians was "unbearable", and that Italy would apprise the international community concerning the situation in Kashmir. On the contrary, the official press release by Italy's defence ministry on the Italian defence minister's visit to Pakistan made no mention of Kashmir or pellet guns.

Belarus

A press release by Pakistan government mentioned that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during his visit to Islamabad in October 2016, exchanged views on the situation in Kashmir with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. The two delegations released a joint statement underlining the "need for resolution of all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through peaceful means and in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions". On the contrary, the official press release by Office of President of Belarus on the visit made no mention of Kashmir or UN resolutions.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International accused Indian security forces were using "arbitrary and excessive force" to deal with the protests in Kashmir. It also stated that their actions were a violation of international standards and were leading to a worsening of the human rights crisis in the state. The organisation also critisiced the use of pellet guns stating they had been used a 100 times in Kashmir during the first week of September 2016 even though its use was meant to be rare. It called for their ban stating they were dangerous and also expressed concern at the deployment of PAVA shells in the state as they could be used in an "arbitrary or indiscriminate manner". While, following a seminar on human rights abuses in Kashmir, Amnesty International was accused of sedition in India.

Human Rights Watch

In July, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Indian authorities to credibly and impartially investigate the use of lethal force in Kashmir. HRW's South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly criticized India for previously ignoring "the finding of abuses under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act". Later in October, the HRW urged Indian authorities to end the use of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) to arbitrarily detain people, including children.

Reactions against use of pellet guns

Human rights organisations like Amnesty International have asked the Indian government for prohibition on the use of pellet guns during street demonstrations against stone-throwing protesters. On 4 August, Amnesty International India called for a ban on the use of the guns following the death of a third person due to injuries inflicted by them.

In response to the high casualties caused by use of pellet guns, Rajnath Singh announced that a panel would be set up to look for alternatives to pellet guns. During a visit to Kashmir, he asked the security forces to avoid using pellet guns as much as possible. The Director-General of Central Reserve Police Force, K. Durga Prasad, in a statement issued on 25 July, regretted the injuries Kashmiri civilians received due to the use of the guns but said that they were the least lethal option available to control the protesting crowd and assured they will only be used in most extreme situations. Lieutenant general D. S. Hooda, chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army, supported his claim regarding pellet guns. Prasad's comments were criticised by Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Amarinder Singh as well as Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, the state chief of CPI-M.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on 23 July advised the government to discontinue the use of pellet guns. On 26 July, the court demanded the Union Government to submit report on use of the guns by untrained personnel while disapproving of their use. It asked the government to only allow its use by trained personnel while also asking it to look into other means of crowd-control. The High Court issued notices to both the state and Union government asking them to file a response to a petition seeking ban on the guns. When Prasad was asked during an interview on 9 August about when will the CRPF stop using pellet guns, he replied it was like asking when will you stop beating your wife. His remarks created a controversy and were seen as misogynistic by women's organisations, news organisations and social media users. Prasad later apologised for his comment. Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh ruled out a ban on the weapons stating they were only used in extreme situations. The army recommended the CRPF and police to use sound cannons, pepper shotguns and chilli grenades instead of the pellet guns.

In an affidavit filed before the court on 17 August, CRPF told the court that the guns were only used in extreme situations and their withdrawal will result in CRPF personnel resorting to the use of rifles which might lead to an increase in fatalities. The government-appointed panel submitted its report on 29 August, reportedly recommending nonivamide (PAVA) shells, stun lac shells and Long Range Acoustic Devices. It was also reported that a ban on pellet guns was ruled out with the use of weapons limited only to "rarest of rare" cases. On 3 September, PAVA shells as an alternative to pellet guns was approved by Rajnath Singh.

On 6 September, the state government justified the use of pellet guns before the state's high court stating they were a modern method to deal with violent protesters and contended that a court couldn't recommend how law and order situations are to be handled. It also claimed that pellet guns were not compatible with the Standard Operating Procedure of firing below the knees as the pellets spread to a diameter of 6 metres when the gun is fired. On 10 September, V.K. Singh who is also the former chief of Indian Army, supported the use of pellet guns stating they were non-lethal and it was a "sensible and well-thought" decision by the Home Ministry to use them. On 21 September, the state High Court rejected the petition regarding banning of guns, stating that the use of force was inevitable as long as unruly mobs indulged in violence.

References

2016 Kashmir unrest Wikipedia


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