Human rights abuses in Kashmir
Kashmir has been a disputed and divided territory with human rights abuses in both the section administered by India (Jammu and Kashmir) and that administered by Pakistan (Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan). The dispute began in 1947 with the partition of the British Indian Empire into India and Pakistan.
Indian administered Kashmir
Line of Control
The Line of Control (LOC) is a military control line between Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir. The line does not constitute a legally international boundary but it is a de facto border, designated in 1948 as a cease-fire line, it divided Kashmir into two parts and closed the Jehlum valley route, the only entrance of the Kashmir Valley. This territorial division which, to this day still exists severed many villages and separated family members from each other. The landmines planted by the Army alongsides of the line have killed scores of innocent people and left thousands as disabled. Without compensation, these disabled persons in the Indian Kashmir are fighting for the survival.
During 2008 Kashmir unrest, the Hindu extremist groups and the supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party blocked the Srinagar-Jammu National highway (NH 1A). The only national highway which connects Kashmir Valley to the rest of India remained closed for several days and stopped the supply of essential commodities. In response to the blockade, on 11 August 2008, under the leadership of Sheikh Abdul Aziz, 50,000 to 2,50,000 Kashmiri protesters attempted to cross the Line of Control to Muzaffarabad. The protesters were stopped at Uri which resulted in killing of fifteen people and hundreds injured when police and Indian paramilitary forces fired on them. A slogan raised by the protesters was, Khooni lakir tod do aar paar jod do (Break down the blood-soaked Line of Control let Kashmir be united again).
Jammu and Kashmir
Human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory administered by India, are an ongoing issue. The allegations range from mass killings, forced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. Many number of massacres have taken place in the region since 1990. The Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security personnel and various militant groups have been accused and held accountable for committing severe human rights abuses against Kashmiri civilians. A WikiLeaks issue accused India of systemic human rights abuses, it stated that US diplomats possessed evidence of the apparent widespread use of torture by Indian police and security forces.
Indian security forces
In July 1990 the Indian military was given special powers under an Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which human rights groups claim gives the security force virtual immunity for crimes committed. The law provides them a shield, when committing human rights violations and has been criticised by Human Rights Watch as being wrongly used by the forces. This law is widely condemned by human rights groups. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay has urged India to repeal AFSPA and to investigate the disappearances in Kashmir.
“All three special laws in force in the state assist the government in shielding the perpetrators of human rights violations from prosecution, and encourage them to act with impunity. Provisions of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act clearly contravene international human rights standards laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as members of the UN Human Rights Committee have pointed out. One Committee members felt that provisions of the act – including immunity from prosecution – were highly dangerous and encouraged violations of the right to life“.— A clipping from a report published by the Amnesty International, 1995.
According to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in an area that is proclaimed as "disturbed", an officer of the armed forces has powers to:
- Fire upon or use other kinds of force even if it causes death, against the person who is acting against law or order in the disturbed area for the maintenance of public order, after giving such due warning.
- Destroy any arms dump, prepared or fortified position or shelter or training camp from which armed attacks are made by the armed volunteers or armed gangs or absconders wanted for any offence
- To arrest without a warrant anyone who has committed cognizable offences or is reasonably suspected of having done so and may use force if needed for the arrest.
- To enter and search any premise in order to make such arrests, or to recover any person wrongfully restrained or any arms, ammunition or explosive substances and seize it.
- Stop and search any vehicle or vessel reasonably suspected to be carrying such person or weapons.
- Any person arrested and taken into custody under this Act shall be made over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station with the least possible delay, together with a report of the circumstances occasioning the arrest.
- Army officers have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under that law. Nor is the government's judgment on why an area is found to be disturbed subject to judicial review.
- Protection of persons acting in good faith under this Act from prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings, except with the sanction of the Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.
On 26 February 2009 the Chief Minister stated the act should be repealed, the security forces however said that revoking the act would be detrimental to security and help terrorist moral, though the millitancy has declined the act is still in force In 1992 the International Labour Organization has described the abuses carried out as having "reached a staggering proportion" and that they were "unprecedented in its brutality". International NGO's as well as the US state department have documented human rights abuses carried out during India's counter terrorism operations, disappearances, torture and arbitrary executions have all been carried out with impunity.
Human rights watch has also accused the Indian security forces of using children as spies and messengers, India army have targeted reporters and human rights activists, they have also been accused of committing over 200 rapes in an attempt to intimidate the local population. Wikileaks cables are reported to contain material stating that the International Committee of the Red Cross briefed US officials in India, alleging that India "condoned" torture and that "sexual penetration" formed part of the maltreatment of victims. The ICRC alleged that of the 1296 detainees interviewed, 681 had reported of being tortured. Of those, 304 individuals complained of sexual torture/abuse.
In 2005 Médecins Sans Frontières conducted a survey in Kashmir which found that the number of people who had witnessed a rape in Kashmir since 1989 was comparably far higher than the number of people who had witnessed a rape in other conflict zones such as Chechnya and Sri Lanka. The survey found that 13% of respondents had witnessed rape and 11.6% of the interviewees had themselves been victims of sexual abuse since 1989. Dr Seema Kazi states that rapes committed by Indian security forces outstrips the rapes committed by militants in both scale and frequency. Professor William Baker stated at the 52nd United Nations Commission on Human Rights that rape in Kashmir was an active strategy of the Indian forces to humiliate Kashmiri people.
In April 2002, authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir arrested three Indian paramilitary soldiers following the gang rape of 17-year-old girl. In July 2011, there were anti-India protests in Srinagar against the alleged rape of a 25-year-old village woman in the village of Manzgam.
In October 2011, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir apologised for the release of names, parentages and addresses of 1400 rape victims. However, no details were revealed as to whether the rapes were by security forces, militants or part of crime. Liaquat Ali Khan, an academic writer considers that these excesses in Kashmir do not have official sanction but are easy to commit because of the powers, to cordon and search villages and suburbs, that are vested to security forces by the law. The authorities use association with terrorists to discredit the testimony of the victims, in case the association is established. The security forces have carried out extrajudicial killings, assaults and other human rights violations. An investigation by the Jammu and Kashmir state Human Rights Commission has found 2730 bodies in unmarked graves at 38 sites in northern Kashmir. At least 574 of these were identified as being local people.
Reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists have confirmed Indian reports of systematic human rights violations by militants. The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has also been blamed of carrying out human rights violations, ranging from kidnapping to ethnic cleansing of several hundred thousand Hindu Kashmiri Pandits. A 2010 US state department report blamed separatist insurgents in Kashmir and other parts of the country of committing several serious abuses, including the killing of security personnel as well as civilians, and of engaging in widespread torture, rape, beheadings, kidnapping, and extortion.
During the eruption of militancy in Kashmir valley, terrorism by majority sect has specifically targeted the Hindu Kashmiri Pandits minority and violated their human rights. Reports by Indian government state 219 Kashmiri pandits were killed and around 1,40,000 migrated due to millitancy while over 3,000 stayed in the valley. Reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists confirmed Indian reports of systematic human rights violations by Pakistan-backed militants.
According to a report published by Asia Watch:
In Kashmir, the militant forces do not control territory and their military operations are generally characterised by ambushes of government forces and hit-and-run attacks for which they rely on weapons such as AK-47s, grenades, mines and other small arms. However, the guerrillas command considerable support throughout the valley and may take refuge among local civilians following these operations. Unable to locate or identify the militants, government forces routinely respond to the attacks by retaliating against entire villages, killing and assaulting civilians and destroying their property.
According to a resolution passed by the United States Congress in 2006, Islamic terrorists infiltrated the region in 1989 and forced most of the Kashmiri Pandits to flee Kashmir. According to the report, the population of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir had declined from 400,000 in 1989 to 4,000 in 2011.
The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front have been accused of ethnic cleansing by using murder, arson and rape as a weapon of war to drive out hundreds of thousands of Pandits from the region. On 25 January 1998, 23 Kashmiri Pandits, including nine women and four young children living in the village of Wandhama, were killed by unknown persons wearing the uniforms of Indian Army soldiers, who had tea with them, waiting for a radio message indicating that all Pandit families in the village had been covered. Thereafter, they rounded up all the members of the Hindu households and then summarily gunned them down with Kalashnikov rifles.
Hindu civilians have been subjected to rape and murder perpetrated by members of terrorist organisations like the JKLF and the Hizbul Mujahideen. Muslim civilians who are considered political opponents of terrorists or those who are believed to be informers have also been raped or murdered.
Pakistan, an Islamic Republic, imposes multiple restrictions on peoples' religious freedom. Religious minorities also face unofficial economic and societal discrimination and have been targets of sectarian violence.
The constitution of Azad Kashmir specifically prohibits activities that may be prejudicial to the state's accession to Pakistan, and as such regularly suppresses demonstrations against the government. A number of Islamist militant groups operate in this area including Al-Qaeda, with tacit permission from Pakistan's intelligence. As in Indian administered Kashmir, there have been allegations of human rights abuse.
A report titled "Kashmir: Present Situation and Future Prospects", which was submitted to the European Parliament by Emma Nicholson, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, was critical of the lack of human rights, justice, democracy, and Kashmiri representation in the Pakistan National Assembly. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence operates in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and is involved in extensive surveillance, arbitrary arrests, torture, and murder. Generally this is done with impunity and perpetrators go unpunished. The 2008 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined that Pakistan-administered Kashmir was 'Not free'. According to Shaukat Ali, chairman of the International Kashmir Alliance, "On one hand Pakistan claims to be the champion of the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people, but she has denied the same rights under its controlled parts of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan".
The main demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan is a constitutional status to the region as a fifth province of Pakistan. However, Pakistan claims that Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be given constitutional status due to Pakistan's commitment to the 1948 UN resolution. In 2007, International Crisis Group stated that "Almost six decades after Pakistan's independence, the constitutional status of the Federally Administered Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan), once part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and now under Pakistani control, remains undetermined, with political autonomy a distant dream. The region's inhabitants are embittered by Islamabad's unwillingness to devolve powers in real terms to its elected representatives, and a nationalist movement, which seeks independence, is gaining ground. The rise of sectarian extremism is an alarming consequence of this denial of basic political rights". A two-day conference on Gilgit-Baltistan was held on 8–9 April 2008 at the European Parliament in Brussels under the auspices of the International Kashmir Alliance. Several members of the European Parliament expressed concern over the human rights violation in Gilgit-Baltistan and urged the government of Pakistan to establish democratic institutions and rule of law in the area.
In 2009, the Pakistan government implemented an autonomy package for Gilgit-Baltistan which entails rights similar to those of Pakistan’s other provinces. Gilgit-Baltistan thus gains province-like status without actually being conferred such a status constitutionally. The direct rule by Islamabad is replaced by an elected legislative assembly and its chief minister.
There has been criticism and opposition to this move in Pakistan, India, and Pakistan administrated Kashmir. The move has been dubbed as an eyewash to hide the real mechanics of power, which allegedly are under the direct control of the Pakistani federal government. The package was opposed by Pakistani Kashmiri politicians who claimed that the integration of Gilgit-Baltistan into Pakistan would undermine their case for the independence of Kashmir from India. 300 activists from Kashmiri groups protested during the first Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly elections, with some carrying banners reading "Pakistan's expansionist designs in Gilgit-Baltistan are unacceptable"
- Ranjan Kumar Singh, Sarhad: Zero Mile, (Hindi), Parijat Prakashan, ISBN 81-903561-0-0
- Women in Security, Conflict Management, a Peace (Program) (2008). Closer to ourselves: stories from the journ towards peace in South Asia. WISCOMP, Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lam 2008. p. 75. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
- "Mines of war maim innocents". tehelka.com. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
- Masoodi, Nazir; Razdan, Nidhi (2008-06-24). "J&K tense over land transfer to Amarnath shrine". NDTV. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- "It‘s not Jammu or Kashmir". hindustantimes.com. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
- "Protests in Delhi over Amarnath land transfer row". thaindia.com. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
- Troops open fire as 250,000 ‘march to Muzaffarabad’: APHC leader Sheikh Aziz killed
- Amarnath row: 5 killed in firing at march to Pakistan-administered Kashmir
- Tensions rise as Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz shot dead
- Arundhati Roy (2008). Aazadi for Kashmir. Outlook publishing. p. 23. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
- Hartjen, Clayton; S. Priyadarsini (2011). The Global Victimization of Children: Problems and Solutions (2012 ed.). Springer. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4614-2178-8.
- "23 years on, Kashmiri Pandits remain refugees in their own nation". Rediff News. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- Hindwan, Sudhir (1998). Verma, Bharat, ed. "Policing the police". Indian Defence Review. Lancer. 13 (2): 95. ISSN 0970-2512.
- Burke, Jason (25 December 2012). "WikiLeaks cables: India accused of systematic use of torture in Kashmir". The Guardian. London.
- Egyesült, Államok (2008). Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007. House, Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations. p. 2195. ISBN 9780160813993.
- "Crisis in Kashmir" Council on Foreign Relations retrieved 11 September 2012
- "India: Security forces cannot claim immunity under AFSPA, must face trail for violations.". Amnesty International. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
- Global Press Institute (7 March 2012). "Mass Rape Survivors Still Wait for Justice in Kashmir". Thomson Reuters Foundation. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
- INDIA: Summary of human rights concerns in Jammu and Kashmir (PDF), Amnesty International, 20 February 1995, archived from the original (PDF) on 10 February 2015
- “(PDF) The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990” Archived 1 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Indian Ministry of Law and Justice Published by the Authority of New Delhi
- Chatterji, Angana P. (2012). Ania Loomba, Ritty A. Lukose, ed. South Asian Feminisms. Duke University Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-0822351795.
- Record of proceedings. International Labour Organization. 1992. p. 88. ISBN 92-2-107530-3.
- Forsythe, David P. (2009). Encyclopedia of human rights, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. p. 306. ISBN 978-0195334029.
- Catherwood, Christopher; Leslie Alan Horvitz. Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide (1st ed.). Infobase. p. 260. ISBN 978-8130903637.
- Karatnycky, Adrian (2001). Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties. Transaction. p. 616. ISBN 978-0765801012.
- Allen, Nick (17 December 2010). "WikiLeaks: India 'systematically torturing civilians in Kashmir'". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- Kazi, Seema (2014). "Rape, Impunity And Justice In Kashmir" (PDF). Socio-Legal Review. 10: 22.
- "Médecins Sans Frontières – Kashmir: Violence and Health" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 November 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- Wailing Woes, Combat Law, 10 October 2007
- Kazi, Seema (2014). "Rape, Impunity And Justice In Kashmir" (PDF). Socio-Legal Review. 10: 23.
- Kazi, Seema (2014). "Rape, Impunity And Justice In Kashmir" (PDF). Socio-Legal Review. 10: 28.
- "SOUTH ASIA | Kashmir troops held after rape". BBC News. 19 April 2002. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- From correspondents in Srinagar (23 July 2011). "Kashmir protests alleged rape by soldiers | thetelegraph.com.au". Dailytelegraph.com.au. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- "Kashmir leader apologises for rape victims list". Straitstimes.com. 1 October 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- L. Ali Khan (2006). A theory of international terrorism: understanding Islamic militancy. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 33–. ISBN 978-90-04-15207-6. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- Anuradha Kumar (1 January 2002). Human Rights. Sarup & Sons. p. 102. ISBN 978-81-7625-322-2. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- Watch, Human Rights (2012). World Report 2012: Events of 2011. Seven Stories. p. 329. ISBN 978-1-60980-389-6.
- Tolley, Howard B., Jr. (2009), "Kashmir", in David P Forsythe, Encyclopedia of Human Rights, Volume 3, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 306, ISBN 978-0-19-533402-9, retrieved 23 September 2012
- "India; BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR: 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
- Paradise lost. BBC news.
- "Front Page : "219 Kashmiri Pandits killed by militants since 1989"". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
- "219 Pandits Killed in J&K Since 1989". news.outlookindia.com. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
- James Goldston, Patricia Gossman (2000). Human Rights in India: Kashmir Under Siege. Asia Watch Committee (U.S.), Human Rights Watch (Organization). p. 19. ISBN 9780300056143. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- "Resolution on Kashmiri Pandits in US House". Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- Flint, Colin (2011). Introduction to Geopolitics (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 192. ISBN 978-0415667739.
- IBTL. "The Massacre at Wandhama, Kashmir : 25 January 1998". Ibtl.in. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
- "23 Kashmiri Hindus Gunned Down on Republic Day Eve". Retrieved 2009-11-25.
- "'I heard the cries of my mother and sisters',''rediff.com''". Rediff.com. 1998-01-27. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
- PRADEEP DUTTA Posted: 28 Jul 2002 at 0000 hrs IST JAMMU (2002-07-28). "I saw them kill my entire family ''IndianExpress.com''". Indianexpress.com. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
- "19/01/90: When Kashmiri Pandits fled Islamic terro". www.rediff.com. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
- Rape in Kashmir: A Crime of War, Asia Watch (A Division of Human Rights Watch) & Physicians for Human Rights.
- Freedom in the World 2008 – Kashmir (Pakistan), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2008-07-02, archived from the original on 2012-10-08
- EU Report Rattles Pakistan, Outlook (magazine), 2006-12-08
- European Parliamentarians express concern for Gilgit-Baltistan, German Information Center, New Delhi, 2008-04-12
- Nadeem (2009-09-21). "Gilgit-Baltistan: A question of autonomy". Indian Express. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
- Shigri, Manzar. "Pakistan's disputed Northern Areas go to polls". Reuters.com. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
- "DAWN: Gilgit-Baltistan autonomy". Archives.dawn.com. Archived from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- Political unrest in Gilgit-Baltistan, Dawn, 2009-07-26
- European MPs concerned at rights violations in Pakistani Kashmir, Thaindian News, 2008-04-13
- European Parliament concerned on Gilgit-Baltistan, Indian Express, 2009-12-20
- Gilgit-Baltistan package termed an eyewash, Dawn, 2009-08-30
- Discontents in Gilgit-Baltistan, Daily Times (Pakistan), 2010-04-21
- Killing of youth in GB by-polls condemned, Dawn, 2009-12-27
- "Tension prevails in GB after Kohistan killings". Thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 2012-10-04.