Amnesty International Highlights Extrajudicial Killings in Kashmir
By Sajjad Shaukat
The report points out, “Tens of thousands of security forces are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir…the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) allows troops to shoot to kill suspected militants or arrest them without a warrant…not a single member of the armed forces has been tried in a civilian court for violating human rights in Kashmir…this lack of accountability has in turn facilitated other serious abuses…India has martyred one 100,000 people. More than 8,000 disappeared (while) in the custody of army and state police.”
The report emphasized on India “to revoke a draconian law AFSPA which provides immunity to security forces, also calling for an independent and impartial inquiry into cases of abuse.
In its previous reports, Amnesty International has already pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, revealing, “The Muslim majority population in Kashmir Valley suffers from repressive tactics of the security forces. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, security forces personnel have extraordinary powers to shoot suspected persons.”
Indian army, paramilitary troops are perpetrating heinous crimes under the cover of these laws, especially AFSPA which was introduced in 1990—with full impunity to the troops, as no incident is either reported by the media or prosecuted at any court of law in IOK or India.
However, the report of Amnesty International has a missing part as well. It does no indicate to the mass graves phenomenon, making headlines at international media since 2009. Many mass graves have been unearthed in different parts of Indian controlled Kashmir, fully filled with dumped bodies generally termed as missing persons.
In this respect, European Union passed a resolution on May 11, 2011 about human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir. Particularly, in 2008, a rights group reported unnamed graves in various regions of the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). In this context, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves. Notably, foreign sources and human rights organizations including Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) have disclosed that unnamed graves include thousands of persons, killed by the Indian forces in the fake encounters including those who were tortured to death.
A recent report on human rights violations by Indian Army and its paramilitary forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir revealed that since 1989, there have been deaths of 93,274 innocent Kashmiris, 6,969 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests and 105,861 destructions of houses. Indian brutal security forces have orphaned over 107, 351 children, widowed 22,728 women and gang raped 9,920 women.
It is notable that by showing a sense of great optimism for peace of the region, Pakistan had agreed with Indian old demand to strengthen the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in order to resolve the outstanding issues, especially main dispute of Kashmir. In this regard, during the visit of India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to Pakistan on September 9, 2012, Islamabad and New Delhi also signed agreements of liberalized visa regime and a memorandum of understanding on cultural exchanges in addition to agreeing on new cross-Line of Control (LoC) Confidence Building Measures related to trade and travel.
While, as part of delaying tactics for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute, Indian rulers availed various crises to suspend the process of Pak-India talks. For example, in 2002, under the pretension of terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, New Delhi postponed the process of dialogue. Again, in 2008, India suspended the ‘composite dialogue’ under the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks.
And, as part of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan approach, leader of the BJP and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi who is giving impetus to Hindu chauvinism not only accelerated unprovoked firing at the LoC in Kashmir including Working Boundary in Sialkot, but also cancelled the Secretary level talks with Islamabad. Now, he is raising baseless issue like Mumbai mayhem and terrorism as pre-conditions to advance the Pak-Indian dialogue. But, he ignored the fact that on July 19, 2013, Indian ex-investigating officer Satish Verma disclosed that terror-attacks in Mumbai in November 26, 2008 and assault on Indian Parliament in January 12, 2001 were carried out by the Indian government to strengthen anti-terrorism laws. Besides, Modi regime hurriedly decided to forcibly annex disputed territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), uncovering its intentions to wrap up the article 370 of the Indian constitution which ensures a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Nevertheless, New Delhi is determined to keep its hold on Kashmir. It also wants to blackmail Pakistan by stopping the flow of rivers’ water towards Pakistan as major rivers of our country take origin from the occupied Kashmir.
In fact, the Amnesty International report which has specified serious human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir, endorses the stance of Kashmiri people and Pakistan’s official contention, aimed at awakening the conscience of international community over serious human rights abuses.
Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute and Indian government’s propaganda of describing mass Kashmiri resistance as terrorist activity is an attempt to nullify the indigenous nature of freedom struggle in J&K.
Pakistan being a legitimate party to the dispute, by virtue of partition plan and UN resolutions, has right to support the cause of the right of self-determination of Kashmiri people.
Undoubtedly, despite India’s harsh and repressive measures like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter, war of liberation which intensified since 1989 continues by the Kashmiri freedom fighters.
Nonetheless, Kashmiri movement for self- determination can not be suppressed through extrajudicial killings.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations