Killings of civilians in Kashmir ‘needs to be investigated’: UN spokesperson

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United Nations, April 2 (IANS) The recent killings of civilians in Kashmir “needs to be investigated,” Stephane Dijarric, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday as protests swept the state.

“Civilians have to be protected wherever they are, whether it is in Gaza, whether it is in Jammu and Kashmir, whether it is in Yemen; it is a basic principle,” he said in reply to a reporter’s question. “Any loss of civilians needs to be investigated wherever they occur.”

Four civilians were killed in Shopian district during operations against militants on Sunday.

Three soldiers and 11 militants were also killed during fierce fighting on Sunday.

Among the dead were two terrorists who had abducted and murdered Indian Army’s Lt Ummer Fayaz in May last year, according to Lt Gen A.K. Bhatt, Commander of the Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps.

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During protests on Monday in Srinagar, police intervened in the Polo View area on Residency Road as protesters tried to move towards the headquarters of UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in Sonwar area.

Meanwhile, Security Council President Gustavo Meza-Cuadra said that there were no plans for the Council to take up the Kashmir developments.

Meza-Cuadra, who is the Permanent Representative of Peru, which holds the rotating presidency for April, said in answer to a question: “This is an important topic. But at this time there is no consensus in order to address it. So far, for the time being we don’t have anything planned on the (topic in the) programme.”

The Pakistani journalist who asked the question during Meza-Cuadra’s briefing falsely said that 20 civilians had been killed.

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Earlier at his daily briefing, Dujarric said: “The Secretaray-General is very concerned about the situation we see in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“He reminds that member states are responsible under international humanitarian law to protect civilians,” he added. “The Secretary-General reiterates his call on member states to find ways to address disputes in a peaceful manner.”

On Monday, at least 20 protesters were reported injured in clashes in Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag districts of south Kashmir where mobs threw rocks at security forces, who fired pellets and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])

–IANS

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