New Report Finds: “Torture” Employed as the Indian State’s “Instrument of Control” in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir
Report Finds, that the Indian government strategically and systemically tortured Kashmiri Opposition.
A recent report by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) finds, that the Indian authorities have “systematically and indiscriminately” used torture as their preferred tool against the movement towards self-determination and freedom of Northern Kashmir and the Kashmiri Muslims.
The report starts with an epigraph of a Kashmiri torture survivor: “Till I am alive, I will continue to fight for justice and speak truth to power” and sets the tone. Approximately 550 pages long, the report focuses on documents from hundreds of individual cases of torture by the Indian military during a period of the last four decades. While the Kashmir issue dates back to 1947’s Partition of the subcontinent, it has escalated since 1987. Till date, reportedly 70,000 people have been killed as a result of the Kashmir conflict.
The report first came with a Indian Prime Minister Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party or the BJP's re-election. Since then, Modi has been hard on Kashmir's case with his return to power, continuing to increase violence and instability in the already troubled region.
The report has alleged that torture has been employed systematically, describing it as a “tactic” that aims to “break [the] people’s will”. With testimonies collected from nearly 430 individuals who have directly been subjected to the Indian troops’ torture such as beatings, electrocutions, rape, cutting with sharp objects or burning with metal rods including solitary confinement for a prolonged period of time(s), the report has highlighted that “torture is an ongoing issue in Kashmir”. Shazia Ahad who is a Kashmiri human rights activist and co-author of the report claims, that despite torture, “the reality [of the situation] is that most cases are not even reported”. She adds that the report focuses on the “torture going back several decades”. Ahad added, that it is difficult to collect testimonies of recent torture victims as they are under “constant surveillance” by the Indian authorities and thereby, “fear reprisals for speaking out”.
She continued to emphasize that since 1947 till now, torture has become the primary tool and integral part of the Indian governments’ method of controlling Kashmir with about 750,000 soldiers deployed to control a population of roughly 12 million people. Shazia Ahad while discussing the systematically used torture on Kashmiri people that has often times resulted in death such as with 28 year old Kashmiri teacher, Rizwan Asad Pandit, stated:
We have seen army officers and even paramilitaries accused of gross human rights violations be given medals and promotions. The government is condoning their acts. That must stop and there must be accountability for the ongoing use of torture against Kashmiris.
The report by APDP and JKCCS, gives a distressing account of human impact that the Indian military has had on the people of Jammu & Kashmir. By providing testimonies of Kashmiri individuals, the report has stressed on their suffering at the hands of the Indian military, police and even paramilitary forces. The report has helped to point out that instead of interrogating for the purpose of gathering intelligence, keeping Kashmiri people in custody is closer to episodes of showcasing sadism.
As argued in the report, during interrogation, flesh was cut from Qalandar Khatana's buttocks and other soft tissues and he was forced to eat it.
According to an article published in The Intercept, Qalandar Khatana a shepherd was detained by Indian authorities in 1992, accused of acting as a guide for “militants” crossing the border through Pakistan. Based on reports, Khatana was tortured over a prolonged period before he was transferred to what is known to be the notorious Papa II detention facility in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. As argued in the report, during interrogation, “flesh was cut from his [Khatana’s] buttocks and other soft tissues and he was forced to eat it”.
Moreover, he was denied medical treatment after his legs had been broken in interrogation due to which his legs became infected with maggots, and were eventually amputated as per the report.
Even Khatana’s wife was tortured severely leading to her death a few years later. Khatana who has since survived, has dedicated his life to fighting for the Kashmiri cause and advocating the human rights of the Kashmiri people.
Additionally, the Indian authorities have always ignored allegations of human rights abuses in Kashmir. The government has gone so far as to cease cooperating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR) for inquiry into the mass killings in Kashmir with the statement that:
India rejects any reference whether implicit or explicit or any quote by any human rights mechanisms or bodies from the remote report published by the OHCHR on the situation of human rights in Kashmir in June 2018, India rejects the remote report and doubts on its credibility and objectivity. The Report begets the question whether individual prejudices should be allowed to undermine the dignity and standing of the high ofﬁce.
Local civil society activists believe this refusal to investigate into the perpetrators of human rights abuses is all part of India’s systematic torture and effort of the Indian government to divert international attention from the ongoing developments in Kashmir. Moreover, Kashmiri human rights lawyer and co-author of the study, Parvez Imroz claims, “for the Indian government, the best response to allegation of human rights abuses is no response because they have nothing to say”.
Imroz added, “We have tens of thousands of torture survivors living today in Kashmir. This report is just the tip of the iceberg. Kashmir is an underreported issue internationally”, continuing to say that the international community needs to step in and pressure the Indian government to stop the abuses and human rights violations in Kashmir.
You can access the full report by APDP & JKCCS below:
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