NEW DELHI, July 18 (Xinhua) — India’s main opposition Congress party Monday questioned the government’s approach in dealing with an ongoing unrest in Indian-controlled Kashmir, saying “should civilians be treated in the same manner as militants?”
The question was raised by Congress party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad while speaking in the upper house of the parliament.
“Please do not push the Kashmiris against the wall by treating civilians like militants,” Azad told the lawmakers. “Please do not use disproportionate force against the residents of the valley.”
The 20-day “monsoon session” of the parliament began Monday in New Delhi. Azad’s remarks came after government had agreed to the opposition’s demand to discuss the unrest in Indian-controlled Kashmir following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militant leader Burhan Muzaffar Wani earlier this month.
The Congress party leader alleged that bullets and pellet guns had been used on children, old men and women in India-controlled Kashmir.
“Should locals be treated the same way we treat militants. Should the same bullets that are used on militants be used on innocent people of the state?” Azad asked.
Muslim majority areas of Indian-controlled Kashmir are reeling under strict curfew for the past 10 days. Hundreds of Indian police and paramilitary personnel remain deployed in the curfew-bound areas in full riot-gears enforce restrictions.
Resident say they were facing a dearth of eatables, essentials and medicines in the wake of the curfew.
The federal government has sent a team of eye specialists to treat people who have suffered ophthalmic and other traumas. Of the injured according to government 134 persons were hit by pellets in eyes and have undergone eye surgeries.
A media gag is in place in the region to prevent flow of news and information since Saturday after police seized newspapers and ordered a halt on their publishing.
The local government has placed key separatist leaders under house arrest, fearing their participation in demonstrations would intensify anti-India protests and mobilize people in large numbers.
Meanwhile, the separatists extended a shutdown call against the civilian killings for two more days on Monday.
Prior to this in 2010, a similar wave of violence hit the region and claimed over 100 lives during clashes that continued for months.
A separatist movement and guerrilla war challenging New Delhi’s rule is going on in Indian-controlled Kashmir since 1989.
Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan is claimed by both in full. Since their Independence from Britain, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.