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Torture as instrument of control in IoK

Dr Muhammad Khan

AFTER a detail report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Kashmir, Human Rights bodies have released another report entitled, ‘Breaking the silence; Report documents torture in Kashmir. The opening narrative of this new report of the Rights bodies clearly say that Indian security forces have been using torture as an ‘instrument of control’ to quash rebellion in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK). The report published on May 20, 2019 revealed unprecedented facts about the human rights violations in the IoK. It is a comprehensive report of 560 pages, researched and complied by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) having 432 testimonies, documented in the report. The report reveals that “solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and sexualised torture including rape and sodomy have been used as torture techniques against the innocent Kashmiris in the IoK. Besides, electrocution, hanging from ceiling, dunking detainees’ head in water (which is sometimes mixed with chilli powder) are commonly used to torture the Kashmiri youth, which results into their subsequent death or disability forever.
The contents of this report are shocking and unimaginable that occupation forces can use such cold-hearted tactics to torture, disable and kill the innocent civilians of occupied Valley. The reports clearly made a mention that over 80% victims are civilians who have nothing to do with armed groups fighting for their right of freedom. Earlier in June 2018, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a very detailed report about the human rights in IoK at the hands of Indian security forces.
That was the first ever report on human rights in the State of Jammu and Kashmir by international body with a clear concern over the massive human rights violations in IoK. The report was entitled by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as: Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Whereas, there were no issues of human rights in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, the real issues of human rights are in the IoK which have been repeatedly highlighted by local human rights organizations. Indeed, martyrdom of Burhan Wani in July 2016 gave a new impetus to the freedom struggle of Kashmiris, who have been struggling for their freedom from India since 1947. Wani was killed by Indian security forces in Bumdoora village in Kokernag area of IoK, gave a new impetus to this Kashmiri struggle. Hundreds of Kashmiris, especially youth have been martyred since then, besides wounding and paralyzing thousands. From 2016 onwards, UNHCR has met with the representatives of the Governments of Pakistan and India for an unconditional access to Kashmir to assess the human rights situation. India rejected this UNHCR request; Pakistan however, accepted the offer, provided India should also offer the access.
This UNHCR considers impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the Valley. More so, the special laws in force in IoK; Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA), have created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations. Since July 2016, thousands of people have been detained under the PSA. As per rights groups, youth (minors) have been the main targets of Indian security forces from 2016 to 2018. The Indian brutal acts also include; “numerous reports of attacks on and obstruction of basic medical services” needed by wounded Kashmiris. UNHCR report had called for ‘establishing a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.’ The recent report of Rights Bodies (May 20, 2019) is indeed the first inquiry report of a few cases only. There has to be a CoI of all human rights violations in IoK, which includes; killing of over 100,000 Kashmiris, rapes of over 11000 women, mass graves, killing of youth through pellet guns, torturing the innocents in torture centres and burning the houses and community centres in the IoK.
What brutalities, Kashmiris are facing in IoK that, in the process of torturing the detainees are stripped naked, beaten with wooden sticks, and bodies were burned with iron rods, heaters or cigarette butts. The young boys like Muzaffer Ahmed Mirza from Tral and Manzoor Ahmad Naikoo were subjected to insertion of a rod through their rectum which caused multiple ruptures to their internal organs. Kashmiris in IoK are facing the ethnic cleansing in their own homeland at the hands of occupation forces of India. The international community and UN must take a note of this worst form of human rights violations in the State of Jammu & Kashmir as reflected in this report as well as the earlier reports of human rights bodies including the 49 pages report of the OHCHR.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.