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US report on human rights of minorities in India

The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in some areas; however, numerous serious problems remain, despite extensive constitutional and statutory safeguards. Significant human rights abuses included: Extrajudicial killings, including faked encounter killings, deaths of suspects in police custody throughout the country, and excessive use of force by security forces combating active insurgencies in Jammu and Kashmir and several northeastern states; torture and rape by police and other agents of the Government; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast; continued detention throughout the country of thousands arrested under special security legislation; lengthy pretrial detention; prolonged detention while undergoing trial; occasional limits on freedom of the press and freedom of movement; harassment and arrest of human rights monitors; extensive societal violence against women; legal and societal discrimination against women; female bondage and forced prostitution; child prostitution and infanticide; discrimination against the disabled; serious discrimination and violence against indigenous people and scheduled castes and tribes; widespread intercaste and communal violence; societal violence against Christians and Muslims; widespread exploitation of indentured, bonded, and child labor; and trafficking in women and children.

Many of these abuses are generated by a traditionally hierarchical social structure, deeply rooted tensions among the country's many ethnic and religious communities, violent secessionist movements and the authorities' attempts to repress them, and deficient police methods and training. These problems are acute in Jammu and Kashmir, where judicial tolerance of the Government's heavy-handed counterinsurgency tactics, the refusal of security forces to obey court orders, and terrorist threats have disrupted the judicial system. The number of insurgency-related killings in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast by regular security forces increased from the previous year. In the northeast there was no clear decrease in the number of killings, despite negotiated ceasefires between the Government and some insurgent forces, and between some tribal groups.

The concerted campaign of execution-style killings of civilians by Kashmiri militant groups, begun in 1998, continued, and included several killings of political leaders and party workers. Separatist militants were responsible for numerous, serious abuses, including killing of armed forces personnel, police, government officials, and civilians; torture; rape; and brutality. Separatist militants also were responsible for kidnaping and extortion in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern states.

In July one of the largest Kashmiri militant groups announced a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir and offered to open a dialog with the Government. The Government responded by instructing its military forces to reciprocate the ceasefire, accepting the offer of dialog, and beginning talks. The ceasefire and talks ended abruptly in August when the militants demanded the start of tripartite talks between themselves, the Government of India, and the Government of Pakistan. During the same period, Pakistan-backed militants opposed to the ceasefire attacked and killed more than 100 civilians, many of them Hindu religious pilgrims, at several locations in Jammu and Kashmir. On November 26, the Government instituted its own unilateral suspension of offensive action for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Jammu and Kashmir and offered to initiate dialog with militant groups that wished to come forward for talks. The Government extended the ceasefire on December 20, and it remained in force at year's end. The Government also continued to pursue a dialog with Kashmiri militant groups, but no formal talks had begun by year's end.’

Excerpts from US State Dept’s
Human Rights Report for 2000 released on 25 Feb.

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