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Harsh Kapoor: (fwd) catholic union of india statement on kashmir

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Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 19:52:35 +0200
From: Harsh Kapoor <>
Subject: catholic union of india statement on kashmir

June 14, 1999
(South Asia Citizens Web)
A l l   I n d i a   C a t h o l i c   U n i on
Established  1919. Registered under the SRA, 1981  .National Office:
F-299, New-Rajendra Nagar, New Delhi 110 060
President: Norbert De Souza
Secretary General : Prof. Remy Denis
National Secretary, Public Affairs: John Dayal  91-11-2722262

14 June 1999

Press statement to Fides
The following statement was issued to the Vatican news agency Fides by
John Dayal, National secretary for Public affairs and spokesman, All
India Catholic Union:

Concern at reports of torture of soldiers, appeal for urgent steps to
de-escalate tension and restore peace

NEW DELHI, June 14:

The Catholic community joins with its fellow Indian citizens in
expressing its deep distress and concern at reports that Indian soldiers
captured in the Kargil area of Kashmir were tortured and executed before
their bodies were handed over to the Indian defence forces.  This act
has sharply escalated the  tension between India and Pakistan and has
made the search for peace that much more difficult. Torture of prisoners
of war violates established international conventions, and  must be
condemned in the strongest terms.

The urgent  need is to de-escalate the confrontation in Kargil. The
Shimla agreement between India and Pakistan forms the basis of peaceful
co-existence in the sub-continent. The Line of Control has in close to
thirty years come to be recognized internationally, and barring brief
skirmishes, has been honored by both countries and their security
forces. It is important that those who have crossed this line vacate go

The sub-continent cannot afford war, and it cannot afford the constant
bleeding of proxy wars and terrorism. The basic issues for the nearly
1.2 billion people of India and Pakistan are of development, of food,
public health, education, housing and fruitful employment. Peace is a
sine qua non to allow the two peoples to work for a life of dignity and

It was in this context that the Christian community in India, and
specially the Catholic community, had last year expressed its
apprehensions at the induction of nuclear weapons in the sub-continent.
In a statement signed, among others by the All India Catholic  Union,
the community had pointed out that a nuclear stand-off  in the
sub-continent would not guarantee peace, but would in fact  rapidly
deteriorate the security environment.  This has been tragically borne
out by events in recent months.

This is the time for all peace-loving people in Pakistan and India to
decisively speak out  against an escalation of the confrontation. This
is not the time for jingoism. The word of reason and goodwill must be
brought to bear on the political establishment.  Any aggravation of the
tension or escalation of the conflict can only bring untold misery to
the common people.