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Human Rights Day: Human Rights Abuses in Kashmir

By Ameen Hussain Rather

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day. As a milestone document in the history of human rights, it sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.

Since India is one of the propagators and protectors of human rights, being the world’s largest democracy, on this very special day we discuss and remind ourselves and India some of the human right abuses done by the Indian Occupying Forces in Kashmir.

Two human rights groups have accused the Indian government of an “institutional cover-up” to avoid punishing dozens of high-ranking military and police officials implicated in killings, disappearances, torture, and sexual violence in this disputed region of Kashmir.

A report by the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) has identified more than 900
individuals for a range of human rights abuses carried out by Indian security forces from 1990. They include 150 officers of the rank of major or above. “The people alleged to be involved in these crimes cannot commit them individually. Others will have supported them or otherwise could have stopped them. We looked at officers at a higher level who knew about the human rights abuses. This was a systematic tactic and policy,” Khurram Parvez, Program Coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, once said.

Between 1990 and 2016, human rights abuses in Kashmir speak volumes about the ground realities in the state. In 1990, Kashmir was shaken by Gawakadal Massacre, Zakoora, Tengpora massacre and the killing of nine protesters in Handwara by the Border Security Force (BSF). Amnesty International, India: Torture, Rape and Deaths in Custody (London: March, 1992), writes, “In May 1990, a young bride, Mubina Gani, was detained and raped by the BSF soldiers, while she was travelling from the wedding to her husband’s home. Her aunt was also raped. The security forces had also fired on the party, killing one man and wounding several others” (p. 21). On 23 February, 1991, the soldiers of the 4th Rajputana Rifles of the Indian Army launched a search operation in a village Kunan Poshpora in the Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir and allegedly gang raped more than 80 women of all age groups (also known as the Kunan Poshpora incident). In 1993, Lal Chowk fire, Bijbehara massacre (Amnesty International reported that at least 51 people died and 200 were wounded on that day) and Sopore massacre took place. In 1996, Jalil Andrabi (Human Rights Activist) was murdered by the Indian forces. In 1997, Sangrampora massacre took place. In 1998, Wandhama massacre, Chapnari massacre, and Pranakote massacre took place. In 2000, Chatisinghpora massacre took place (in which more than 35 Sikhs were murdered by the Forces). In 2001, Kishtawar and Chalwalkote massacres took place. In 2002, Kaluchak massacre and Qasimnagar massacre occured. In 2003 and 2004, Nadimarg massacre and Teli Katha massacre took place. In 2006, Doodthipathri and Doda massacre happened. On 10 December, 2006, while the whole world was celebrating the Human Rights day, a youth of my village, Mansoor Ahmad (22), was battling for his life in SKIMS (Shari Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences), Srinagar, as he was shot by an Indian trooper in his abdomen. He lost his left kidney. The Daily Excelsior reported about this incident on 11 December, 2006: “While the Valley’s separatist politicians organised separate demonstrations in Srinagar on the occasion of the World Human Rights Day, a soldier of Rashtriya Rifles fired upon a 22-year-old youth and left him critically injured in Qazigund area of Anantnag district today.” In 2008, during Amarnath land controversy, more than 70 youths were killed by the forces. In 2009 Shopain double rape and murder case in which two women – Asiya (a secondary school student) and her sister-in-law, Nilofar – were raped and murdered by the troops. In 2010 uprisings, more than 110 youths were killed. In 2013 Ramban firing incident, more than 8 people were killed and hundreds were wounded.

The year 2016 started with the molestation of a minor girl student by an Indian Army soldier. Following which, some civilian boys came to the rescue of the girl. The so-called disciplined military of democratic India opened fire directly, aiming for the heads of the young boys, resulting in the death of two youths and an old woman. In the ongoing five month long unrest, which started after the assassination of a young rebel leader, Burhan Wani (22), by the Indian military, more than 115 civilians have been killed, including a young Kashmiri academic (college professor), who was battered to death by the Indian soldiers, and an 11-year-old boy, whose body was riddled with hundreds of pellets. More than 17000 have been injured, hundreds blinded, and more than 15000 arrested so far by the Indian brutal forces. The entire population spent the summer under the longest curfew in the history of curfews in Kashmir (more than 70 days). About 90% of those killed, injured, blinded, and arrested are students. A new type of curfew “e-curfew” (which only exists in Modi’s Digital India!) was imposed in Kashmir by blocking Internet services and putting down all cellular networks for more than 100 days.

According to many reports, from January 1990 to March 2016, more than 95000 civilians have been killed, 7000 have been killed in custodies, more than 140000 civilians have been arrested, 106063 structures ransacked, 22810 women widowed, 10556 children orphaned, 10176 women (gang) raped/molested, and more than 10000 enforced disappearances have been initiated by the Indian forces.

It is indeed a travesty and a sad tale that as human rights have advanced all over the world, in Kashmir, these have regressed. But, alas, the world is silent to this condition, despite the mute testimony of the dead, disappeared, blinded, tortured, raped, and illegally detained.

Ameen Hussain Rather is a student of Law at the University of Kashmir, Srinagar, Kashmir.


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