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HRW condemns Kashmir killings

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Human Rights Watch has condemned the killing of protesters by security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir, saying the country should designate an independent commission to investigate the incident.

On Saturday, the international body said that the Indian government should end impunity of Border Security Force (BSF).

“The loss of life at the Ramban mosque needs a prompt investigation by an independent commission,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

“Any finding of illegal use of force by BSF troops should result in prosecutions. Too often the BSF’s version of events is simply accepted, allowing killing after killing for which no one is held to account,” she added.

On Thursday, four protesters were shot dead and at least 40 were injured by Indian troops in the Gool area of Ramban district, 200 kilometers south of Srinagar, Kashmir.

The villagers were protesting the alleged desecration of the Holy Qur’an by the border security forces.

The protesters accused the border guards of tearing pages of several copies of the Qur’an and beating a school caretaker at a religious seminary in a village in Gool on Wednesday night.

On Friday, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Srinagar and other cities and towns, despite strict security measures in the valley.

Several people were injured in clashes which erupted after security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd in Srinagar marching to protest the killings.

Kashmir lies at the heart of more than 65 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim the region in full but each only has control over a section of the territory.

Over the past two decades, the conflict in Kashmir has left over 47,000 people dead by the official count, although other sources say the death toll could be as high as 100,000.

On Friday, Islamabad expressed its “deep concern” over the killings of the protesters.

“Such acts incite violence and hurt the sentiments of Muslims not only in Pakistan but all over the world,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The government of Pakistan calls for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out expeditiously and those responsible for this act to be brought to justice,” it added.

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