Srinagar, April 04 (KMS): As the world observes International Day for Mine Awareness today, a noted human rights activist in Indian occupied Kashmir said that response of the Indian government to deal with the menace has been disappointing.

An award-winning activist Khurram Parvez, also a landmine victim, while monitoring elections in 2004, lost one of his legs in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast.

In an exclusive interview with foreign media, Parvez, who also heads the Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances and is the program coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, said that vast tracts of land in Kashmir are laden with mines.

Khurram Parvez said that hundreds of thousands of APMs were laid along the 734-kilometer (456-mile) Line of Control and the 190 km (118 mi) of the international border between India and Pakistan during the 1999 Kargil War and then again in 2001 when both countries were face to face following an attack on the Indian Parliament.

He pointed out that there is no specific data on the total area under landmines. But in response to a question, the Indian government told Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in 2013 that the Indian Army had laid land mines in approximately 3,512 acres of land in several villages in 1999.

A report by an Indian parliamentary panel in 2005 said 1776 Indian soldiers died while laying and removing mines from 2001-2005. Since then, Landmine Monitor’s annual reports on India have been recording killings of Indian soldiers and civilians in landmine explosions continuously. In February last year, an army major was killed while defusing a mine. He was to get married the following month. A civilian was injured last year in December.

According to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, a total of 1091 people have been killed and 2638 injured from 1999-2016. The Monitor has said that the cumulative number of casualties in India are not known”.

When asked what the Indian government did to alleviate the threat posed by landmines, Parvez said not much. Despite favouring the UN resolution tabled in 1996, to enact an international treaty banning anti-personal landmines, it has refused to sign it. More than 160 countries have signed the treaty. India has one of the largest stockpiles of APMs.

 


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