India 'covering up abuses' in Kashmir

Several rights groups accuse Indian government of drawing the curtain over human rights abuses by its security forces

India 'covering up abuses' in Kashmir

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Indian government has concealed over three hundred human rights abuse cases, including extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances in the India-occupied Kashmir, a new report alleged. 

Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society coordinator Khurram Parvez says that the Indian government had allowed systemic violence to take root in the Himalayan region hit by more than two decades of conflict, Al Jazeera reported.

The 800-page report compiled for two years by the International Peoples' Tribunal and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons documented more than 1,080 extrajudicial killings and 172 enforced disappearances, as well as cases of sexual violence that go back to the early 1990s.

The document details 333 case studies of human rights violations and names some 972 alleged perpetrators responsible for the crimes. These include 464 army personnel, 161 paramilitary personnel, 158 Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel and 189 "government gunmen".

"These crimes were happening with the full knowledge of higher level officers in the Indian government ... they must be all held accountable by international law," Parvez said.

'STRUCTURE OF VIOLENCE AND IMPUNITY' 

The report is based on official records and testimonies and Parvez said that prosecution should not be limited to the individuals.

"We acknowledge that these are individuals forming part of a structure of violence and impunity that allows a massive institutional cover-up here in the valley," he said.

The report wants UN Human Rights Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate the crimes and appeals to the UN Security Council to exercise its power to refer the cases to the International Criminal Court. Despite the fact that India is not a signatory to the ICC, UNSC has the power to refer situations to the court.

Waheed-Ur-Rehman, spokesperson for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir, said his party was looking into the claims made in the report.

"There have been some human rights violations in Kashmir ... and it is a fact [that] mistakes have been made on both sides and ultimately Kashmiris have suffered," Rehman said in interview with Al Jazeera.

"We are trying our level best to provide justice to the people who have suffered in the past. Justice can never be anti-state, people will get justice," he added.

Gautum Navalkha, a human rights activist and editorial consultant to the Economic and Political Weekly magazine in New Delhi, described justice as "a rarity" in India-occupied region. According to him, there are two types of laws: one for common Indians and another for the "disturbed areas" such as Kashmir. 

"There is no possibility of justice in Kashmir under these circumstances," Navalkha said.

India-occupied Kashmir has seen an increase in violence over the past two months, which pushed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to urge India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and take all steps to ensure the protection of civilians who continue to bear the brunt of hostilities between the two nations over their claims to Kashmir.

'SERIOUS ABUSES'

In July, Amnesty International accused the Indian government of refusing to prosecute perpetrators of human rights abuses in the region.

According to Amnesty, more than 96 per cent of all allegations of human rights violations pitted against India's personnel in the disputed territory have been declared as "false or baseless".

"Till now, not a single member of the security forces deployed in the state has been tried for human rights violations in a civilian court. This lack of accountability has in turn facilitated other serious abuses," Minar Pimple, a senior director of global operations at Amnesty said.

In a rare deviation from the norm, a military court sentenced five Indian soldiers to life imprisonment for the murder of three Kashmiri men in 2010. Omar Abdullah, the then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, described it as a "watershed moment".

Amnesty welcomed the move but cautioned that "for justice to be consistently delivered, security force personnel accused of human rights violations should be prosecuted in civilian courts".

Both Lieutenant Colonel N N Joshi, India's army spokesperson in Srinagar and Colonel Rohan Anand, India's army spokesperson in New Delhi, told Al Jazeera they had yet to see the new report and were therefore unable to comment.

Over the past two decades more than 60,000 people have been killed in the insurgency, and the dispute remains a perilous red herring in India-Pakistan relations.

Last Mod: 10 Eylül 2015, 13:20
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