Landmines killed 3,000 Indians in 10 years

New Delhi, Nov 20 ( Some 3,000 Indians, mostly in Jammu and Kashmir, have been killed in landmine explosions over the past 10 years, according to an NGO working for a world free of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions.

“In the last 10 years, around 3,000 Indians died due to landmines and over 2,000 were injured. Most casualties occurred in Jammu and Kashmir, followed by Manipur,” according to Landmine Monitor Report 2009, which will be released Saturday.

Among the Indian states affected by landmines are Rajasthan, Punjab, Sikkim and areas affected by Maoist insurgency.

Landmine Monitor is the research and monitoring programme of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

Urging the government to sign the disarmament Mine Ban Treaty, the ICBL said India’s antipersonnel stockpile is estimated to be between four and five million – the fifth largest in the world.

It said India’s last major use of antipersonnel mines took place between December 2001 and July 2002, when the Indian Army deployed an estimated two million mines along its 2,880 km northern and western border with Pakistan during Operation Parakram. The operation directly affected more than 6,000 families across 21 villages in India.

Indian Army units have sustained heavy casualties in the course of demining operations, notably since the start of mine-laying on the Pakistan border in December 2001, the report said.

Some 39 countries, including India, China, Pakistan, Russia, and the US, have not signed the treaty.

According to Binalakshmi Nepram of Control Arms Foundation of India, the global use, production, and trade of antipersonnel mines have dramatically reduced and casualties have declined.

“But serious challenges still remain, with more than 70 states still mine-affected today,” she said.