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Kashmir insurgents ban use of antipersonnel mines

Srinagar, October 18, 2007:

UJC Chief
UJC Chief
An alliance of major guerilla groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir has announced a ban on antipersonnel mines in the region.

The Muzaffarabad based United Jehad Council, an amalgam of 13 guerrilla groups fighting Indian rule made the announcement on Tuesday at the end of a two-week visit by the members of International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) to Pakistan administered Kashmir, an ICBL spokesman said.

ICBL in partnership with Srinagar based civil rights group, Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) had organised a series of year-long activities calling for a ban on the use of antipersonnel mines in Kashmir.

Welcoming the announcement ICBL Executive Director Sylvie Brigot said, “The UJC’s pledge is yet another sign of the growing acceptance of the norm which prohibits antipersonnel mines because of their indiscriminate nature.”

Besides the 13 armed Kashmiri groups, five other non-Kashmiri groups have ‘observer’ status in the UJC and the directive of banning use of antipersonnel mines are binding upon them.

“We now encourage both India and Pakistan to consider a moratorium on new mine use and to launch comprehensive mine clearance programs,” Brigot added.

Most mines in Kashmir are planted near the 720 km long Line of Control, the de facto border in Kashmir between the Indian and Pakistani administered areas.

Some mines are also planted near highly guarded army cantonments like Khundroo arms depot in Indian administered Kashmir.

The UJC in its declaration has said that the use of antipersonnel mines is equivalent to “blind terror” and that use of antipersonnel mines is prohibited under Islam.

The amalgam has said that the UJC members have made only limited use of antipersonnel mines in the past.

However, in the recent years, some of the alliance members, particularly Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest indigenous guerilla outfit operating in the region and Pakistan based Laskar-e-Toiba, have used command-detonated Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), some of which have caused civilian deaths and injuries.

The UJC has said that it may continue to use command-detonated IEDs against military targets, but has banned use, production or trade of victim-activated mines as prohibited under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

“Unless a total ban is imposed on the production, trade, stockpiling and use of landmines tragedy will continue, not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but also in the entire world,” the UJC statement said.

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