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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Human Rights Violations In India

Mohammad Jamil [Pakistan Observer]

The US state department released a report on global human rights abuses discussed situation in other countries including China and Pakistan, but it dwelled at length on gross human rights violations committed by Indian security forces on Kashmiris – from killings to torture – in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) and other conflict-hit regions. “There were numerous reports that the government and its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, including the extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals and terrorists, especially in areas of conflict such as Jammu and Kashmir, the North Eastern States, and the Naxalite belt, where non-governmental forces also committed such killings,” the US State Department said in the annual 2010 assessment of the state of human rights around the world. India’s repression in Indian Held Kashmir is despicable. In September, Indian government reinstated the four police officials allegedly involved in the May 2009 killing of Neelofar Jan and Asiya Jan in the Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir despite the fact the high court had ordered the arrest of those officers on the charges of suppressing and destroying evidence in the case. On June 28, Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar, Neelofar’s husband and Asiya’s brother had filed a petition to hold inquiry into the killings of the two women. 

The petition remained pending before a Srinagar court till year’s end. Relatives and police had discovered the bodies of Neelofar and Asiya in a stream, and local residents and examining doctors alleged that Indian security forces gang-raped and killed Neelofar and Asiya. In addition, several government officials stated that police involvement in the killings could not be ruled out. Perhaps, no other nation has gone through such a long ordeal and suffering in the history and their unending nightmare continues. Since 1989, Kashmiri youth started struggle against atrocities, killings and ruthless exploitation, and since then about 90000 Kashmiris have laid down their lives. Human Rights Watch and other groups every year issue reports of Indian forces’ brutalities. Even international human rights groups have more than once called for a probe into whether the unmarked graves held bodies of civilians who “disappeared” when Indian security forces tried to crush the freedom movement. 

The world must take notice of the atrocities perpetrated on Kashmiri people by Indian security forces, especially on the women and children, and help Kashmiris to get their right of self-determination. In June 2008, Kashmiri Muslims had protested against allotment of land to Delhi-based Amarnath Shrine Trust in violation of the law. In 2009, there was strike in Muslims’ areas of Indian Held Kashmir against anti-Muslim riots, vandalism, looting of Muslim properties, economic blockade of the Valley and inter-regional ex-communication by the Hindu fanatics and extremists of occupied Jammu region. 

In fact, Congress-led government had earlier allotted a piece of land near the shrine apparently to facilitate Hindu pilgrims that throng the shrine in large numbers, but Kashmiris were suspicious of the government’s intentions, as efforts were being made to encourage migration of Hindus to the state with a view to diluting Kashmiri Muslims’ 98 per cent majority in the IHK. Despite all odds, Kashmiris are determined to take their freedom struggle to the logical conclusion, and are willing to give any sacrifice to get rid of Indian yoke.Pakistan and India had many rounds of talks including the composite dialogue that started in 2004 and stalled after Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. In the past, India had always insisted that before discussing Kashmir disputes other issues of lesser importance should be discussed and resolved. However, it so happened during every round that whenever the time for discussing the core issue of Kashmir came, India did find an excuse to end the dialogue. Having that said, the resumption of talks between Pakistan and India is a welcome move, but it should be borne in mind that without resolving the Kashmir dispute, the genuine peace in the region cannot be achieved. In fact, the core issue between the two countries needs to be sorted out first for normalization to occur in the two neighbours’ relationship. In fact, Indians have the obsession that all terrorism in India emanates from Pakistan, even as their own investigators had traced down many a terrorist assault in their land, but they slapped on Pakistan instantly. 

Anyhow, Kashmir is boiling once again. The new generation of young boys that were born under the shadow of Indian bayonets since 1989, and witnessed murder, rape and killings of their kith and kin in fake encounters, are burning with rage and revenge. Last November Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had emphasized the need for dialogue with Kashmiri leaders. Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Syed Ali Geelani however rejected stating that talks could be fruitful and acceptable only after India accepted the three points - right to self-determination, complete troop withdrawal and talks within the ambit of United Nations resolutions vis-à-vis Kashmir dispute. 

The All Parties Conference on Kashmir called by the government could not reach consensus and ended in a deadlock. Congress President Sonia Gandhi had made an impassioned appeal to the participants for creating space for reconciliation that could end turmoil and conflict in trouble-torn state. She had said: “The legitimate aspirations of those young people in the Kashmir Valley who have grown up in the embrace of violence, of conflict and brutality must be understood and respected”. During June 2010 to November 2010, Indian paramilitary forces had murdered 86 teenagers with firing and tear-gas shelling. One wonders as to what happened to the champions of human rights, freedoms and liberties? Can’t they see Kashmiris’s carnage in the Valley? In June, only UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon had expressed shock over killings in Kashmir, but he too backtracked quickly. The UN chief was misreported, said his spokesman. So he too was not shocked. Kashmiris are unfortunate lot because their cause is legitimate and lawful; they have the UN mandate on its back, as United Nations Security Council has decreed that they will determine their own destiny in an UN-supervised plebiscite. For the last 62 years, India reneged upon its commitment to this UN decree, and despite first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s commitment on the floor of the assembly, India did not honour its commitment. 

Showing utter disregard to the UNSC resolutions, India has been using a brute military force to suppress the Kashmiris’ freedom movement without ever being held to account by the international community. In a brutal campaign, over half a million-strong Indian army has perpetrated unspeakable atrocities on them to crush their uprising. Yet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had the audacity to say that he was “shocked and distressed” by deadly protests in Indian-administered Kashmir and called for calm to enable talks on the crisis to take place. “I was shocked and distressed to see young men and women - even children - joining the protests on the streets,” Singh said at the opening of a meeting of political parties called to debate ways of easing tensions in the region. Leaders of India’s main political parties had debated whether to ease harsh security laws in Indian-administered Kashmir as the government searched for a strategy to end months of increasingly violent protests in the region, but could not decide on the matter.

—The writer is Lahore-based senior journalist.

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