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Custodial deaths, disappearances lowest: J&K CM
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October 30, 2006 17:13 IST

Jammu and Kashmir [Images] Chief Minister Ghulam [Images] Nabi Azad claimed that custodial deaths and disappearances in the state have been at its lowest during the past one year, and said directions have been issued to security forces to avoid rights violations during counter-insurgency operations.

There has been lowest custodial deaths and disappearances during the past one year since the inception of militancy in 1990, Azad said at the foundation stone laying ceremony worth Rs 1.50 crore of Khidmat Trust Hostel, owned by the Congress party.

However, separatists and human rights organisations contested the chief minister's claim and alleged there has been no change on the ground, even after the peace process started by India and Pakistan.

Azad said security forces have been given directions from the state and central governments to observe every restraint while combating militancy.

No rights violation would be acceptable under any circumstances, he said adding, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] too had declared zero tolerance for human rights violations.

The main opposition party in the state, the National Conference however, alleged that rights violations in the state during the coalition government has increased.

The party leaders said innocent people are being killed in fake encounters and labelled as militants. They alleged that a number of people were killed by security forces in villages and towns without any provocations during the past one year.

They demanded a white paper on all inquiries ordered by the coalition government of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Congress into various incidents of custodial killings and disappearances.

Meanwhile, the United States-based international non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch, conducting research and advocacy on human rights alleged that India had given its armed forces a free rein in Jammu and Kashmir.

In its released recently report, it said both militants and security forces have committed widespread human rights abuse and violated international humanitarian law in the state since the outbreak of violence.

It alleged that the Indian government has failed to end widespread impunity of human rights abuse committed by its security forces and militants in the state.

HRW further alleged that security forces have committed torture, and arbitrary detentions and continue to kill Kashmiris in fake encounters.

Both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party have also said that there has been no change in the human rights violations in the state.

The HC (Omar) chairman Mirwaiz Omar Farooq has threatned to pull out from the talks with the Centre, if the rights violatons by the security forces were not stopped.

Omar who held three rounds of talks with the Centre -- two during the National Democratic Alliance government and one with Dr Singh -- said human rights violations were increasing with every passing day.

The HC (Geelani) chairman Syed Geelani, who was put under house arrest about half a dozen times during the past three months, to prevent him from attending the funeral processions of militants and civilians killed by security forces, alleged that people in the Valley and Doda districts are being subjected to torture by security forces.

He said hundreds of innocent Kashmiris are languishing in jails for years without any trial.

JKLF chief Mohammed Yaseen Malik and JKDFP chairman Shabir Ahmed Shah too have alleged increase in the human rights violations in the state.

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