Advani warns against rights abuse in J&K
24 October 2000
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Home Minister L.K. Advani has ordered troops deployed in Kashmir not to flout human rights, officials said today. Army ''commanders are paying attention to this aspect and complaints of rights violations are followed by corrective steps,'' they quoted Advani as saying at an overnight meeting in Srinagar. ''The troops are using a heavy hand and alienating people,'' Kashmir assembly legislators told Advani in a complaint during the meeting. The meeting was also attended by Defence Minister George Fernandes and Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, the officials said. Dilawar Mir, a legislator from northern Kashmir, also said army troops deployed in the region were using local residents as ''bonded labourers in their villages.'' ''They are also being forced by the army to patrol during the night,'' Mir claimed. The army reject such charges and say they hire porters and guides on regular wages. The officials who attended the meeting said the legislators also complained of random arrests of civilians and harassment by the military of Muslim guerrillas who have already laid down their arms. ''Two militants, who had surrendered on my assurance, were picked up (by the army) and their whereabouts are not known,'' said Mohammed Shafi, a legislator reprsenting Srinagar''s business hub of Lal Chowk. They said the exodus of thousands of people from the frontier regions of Kashmir because of the regular cross-border shelling by Pakistani gunners was also discussed by Fernandes and Advani. ''We have sought the Centre''s help in redressing the suffering of the people who have had to flee because of the shelling,'' said one of the legislators.