Custodial killing of Ashraf Sehrai
THE seventy-eight year’s old senior Kashmiri leader Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, who dared to challenge Indian rule in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) died a few days back under the custody of Indian security forces.
The veteran Kashmiri leader was under the custody of Indian security forces since July 2020.
His only crime was the demand of legitimate right of Kashmiri’s self-determination from Indian authorities. Like millions of Kashmiris, Mr Sehrai was a peaceful protestor, totally unarmed.
As per the statement of his son, Mujahid Sehrai, his father was denied proper medical treatment in jail despite repeated requests to Indian authorities. Mr Mujahid talked to his father on telephone ten days before his custodial death.
“He told us several times in the last few months during his two phone calls a week to home that he was not getting proper medical treatment.
We moved a court on April 16 with a petition seeking proper medical assistance for him but the court was yet to review it.”
This is very unfortunate that, even courts in IIOJK are bound to follow the orders of Indian security forces over the genuine cases of essential medical care.
There is no such precedence anywhere in the world.
The worst part of the killings, rapes and torture in IIOJK is that, the killers (men of Indian security forces) are not charged for their brutal offence.
The brutal and discriminatory laws, imposed in IIOJK since 1990s allow the personnel of Indian Army and other security forces to imprison anyone in IIOJK for a period ranging from three months to two years even without any trial. Ashraf Sehrai was arrested in July 2020 under the Public Safety Act.
He remained in jails for over 16 years in various Indian prisons during his political career. He lost one of his sons at the hand of Indian security forces in 2020.
IIOJK, deaths of innocent Kashmiris under the custody of Indian security forces are a routine matter.
This is happening ever since 1990 and after 2016; there has been an upsurge in the custodial killing of Kashmiris as the revised strategy, devised by General Bipan Rawat, the incumbent Indian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
The crux of the strategy was; planned killings (genocide) of the Kashmiri youth who protest against Indian rule in IIOJK or for that matter, any act of India in the occupied state.
While the Kashmiri youth were continued to be killed through torture, custodial killings and fake encounters (genocide), the Kashmiri leadership leading the movement of self-determination was massively arrested under National Investigation Agency (NIA).
NIA acts as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law and authorised to investigate any so-called terror-related matter anywhere without any special permission of the state authorities.
Dozens of Kashmiri leaders were arrested under NIA just over the fake charges of having links with anyone in Pakistan or having costly household.
NIA acted as an open licence to arrest the Kashmiris leaders and keep them under the custody of Indian security forces for years and years without any investigation.
Yasin Malik, the leader of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front is languishing in Indian jail under NIA without any legal evidence for the last several years.
The policy of genocide of Kashmiri youth and custodial killings were mainly implemented while General Rawat was the Indian Army Chief, therefore, the General was rewarded accordingly.
For these brutal acts (genocide) and custodial killings of Kashmiris, general Rawat was elevated to the status of first Indian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), upon his completion of his term as Indian Army Chief.
As per various international pacts, covenants, Geneva Conventions, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and other provisions of international law, these Indian acts come under war crimes.
Indeed, IIOJK is an active war zone, ever since 1990 and there are over 900,000 men of Indian security forces are deployed there from August 5, 2019.
“According to Article 2 of the 1948 Genocide Convention, “killing members of the group” constitutes genocide when “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.
The Indian security forces are specially targeting and torturing the ethnic Kashmiri Muslims in IIOJK, making a classic case against Indian state, Indian Army and personnel of all Indian paramilitary forces who have been involved in the rapes and killings of Kashmiris.
In their drive of custodial killings of Kashmiris, Indian security forces have arrested and killed thousands of innocent Kashmiris ever since 1990.
In order to protect their unlawful acts of human rights in IIOJK, the members of Indian security forces have been given total immunity under two laws; The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act and the Armed Forces Special Power Act.
Amnesty International and other human rights organizations at global level have condemned these laws and demanded India to lift these laws from IIOJK.
Nevertheless, Indian has tightened its grip over the territory of IIOJK through its illegal acts of converting state into two union territories in August 2019.
Indeed, India needs Kashmir, not Kashmiris, therefore undertaking the brutal acts of custodial killings of the innocent Kashmiris.
The United Nations and all international organizations must take a note of Indian massive human rights violation in IIOJK.
On their part, Kashmiris are not ready to surrender their legitimate right; the right of self-determination.
Kashmiris all over the world and the people of Pakistan salute the valiant struggle of great Kashmiri leader, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai for the right of self-determination of Kashmiris.
Indeed, just condemnation is not sufficient to attract the international attention towards Indian custodial killings in IIOJK.
Pakistan must refer the custodial killing of Mr Sehrai and thousands of other Kashmiris to United Nations Human Rights Council.
This UN body is bound to “promote and protect human rights around the world” if pursued seriously.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.