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Kathua rape, murder: 318 children killed in J&K "state-sponsored" terror in 15 years, 5 in Jan-March 2018, says report

By Our Representative
A new report by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), an amalgam of various non-profit organizations based in Srinagar, brought out against the backdrop of the uproar around the January 2018 rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua, has said that the gruesome incident is part of what it calls "pattern of state violence against children", pointing out, "In the first three months of 2018 not less than 5 minors have been killed, including the Kathua minor girl."
Calling the rape and murder of the minor girl in Kathua, allegedly by police personnel, as "apparently" having the "objective of striking terror within the marginalized community of Muslim Gujjars", the report states, the incident only confirms that "children are not indirect victims of conflict, but rather, at many occasions, they are the primary targets of state violence".
The report reveals, "The 15-year-period from 2003 to 2017 witnessed not less than 318 killings of children (in the age group of 1 to 17) in various incidents of violence in J&K. The killing of 318 children constitutes 6.95% of the civilian killings in last 15 years, as 4,571 civilians have been killed in J&K in the same period."
Following the decline in militancy in mid-2000s, while "there were several attempts to mobilize people for mass protests in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2016 against killings and for resolution of Kashmir dispute", the report says, "The state’s response to the mass uprisings was again militaristic and repressive." And during these protests, while 548 people were killed, "at least 16 of them were children."
The report, titled "Impact of Violence on the Children of Jammu and Kashmir", says, "Eight children were killed due to pellet shotguns, seven due to injuries by tear smoke shelling and one child died due to asphyxiation caused by pelargonic acid vanillyl amide (PAVA) shell, which are chilly-based munitions."
Claiming that "children have not been protected from this practice as they have been viewed and treated as adults by the armed forces, who are contemptuous and suspicious of every citizen of J&K", the report also blames the death of children on what it calls "the creation of Ikhwan, the private counter-insurgency militia, by the Government of India in 1993 as a major dirty war-operation against Kashmiri insurgency".
The report says, "The unknown or unidentified gunmen have since then killed, maimed and disappeared many hundred Kashmiris", including "at least 47 children, making the process of identifying the perpetrators not only difficult but also almost impossible as the state has the easy excuse of claiming that militants did these killings."
Staring that 12 children have been killed in the last 15 years due to militant action, most of them due to explosions of explosive devices like grenade blasts and improvised explosive device (IED), the report says, the explosive devices were also "frequently used by Indian armed forces and 110 children have been killed due to explosions of various kinds like by grenade blasts, IEDs, landmines or due to the littered shells left by armed forces at encounter sites."
A further analysis of the data reveals that out of the total 318 children killed, 72 were girls and 227 were male children" but as for the rest, i.e. 91, their "gender could not be ascertained as it was not reported at the time of the killing." As for geography of the deaths, "Kashmir division accounts for 67.29% of the total killings of children in the last 15 years, while Jammu division accounts for 30.18% of the total killings." As for eight, "the killings’ location could be not ascertained."
"The north Kashmir districts of Bandipora, Baramulla and Kupwara jointly accounted for 110 killings, while the four south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama accounted for 59 killings. The central Kashmir districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal recorded 45 killings", the report says.
The breakup also suggests that while "Kupwara district of north Kashmir recorded the highest number of killings with 53, followed by Baramulla, which recorded 41 killings, and Srinagar, which witnessed 27 killings", in the Jammu division, which recorded 96 killings of children, Pooch recorded 26 killings followed by Doda with 21 killings.

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