Shadows in Kashmir torture cells longer than Abu Ghraib
Srinagar: Ever since the situation in Kashmir began to be monitored internationally in mid nineties, torture cells and interrogation centres skipped the attention with prisons and detention centres becoming the main highlight.
Soon after the eruption of armed uprising in Kashmir a network of torture centres came up and threw a blanket of fear around the Valley. "The treatment much brutal than the Nazi concentration camps was meted out to the detainees," recounts a former militant who is now affliated to separatist outfit
Detention, says another activist, had always been a routine affair in Kahsmir since partition of British India and "lawlessness was all pervading with jails being filled with Kashmiris and torture cells toiling with screams."
Woman separatist Farida Behanji cannot bring herself to recaptulate her torture trails saying she has lost the count. "I was physically tortured at a stretch for 26 days when State Task Force dragged me out of my residence in 1996," reminds Farida, who heads Kashmir Mass Movement. Having served the sustained jail term of five years at Tihar Jail, New Delhi, Farida is currently afflicted with joint disorders.
"Tell me why should the prison abuse in Iraq's Abu Ghraib panic us when we have the memories more horrible, much more guresome," Asharaf grovels when asked to coment on Iraq's prison controversy.
Besides Joint Interogation Centres across the state Papa 1, Papa 2, Gogoland, Cargo centre, Hariniwas and Bag-e-Mehtab have hair-raising tales attached to them. From naked bashing to anal rupture, harrowing stories are being told by those survived through the fatal tortures. Electrocuting private parts over water soaked bodies was the most commonly employed procedure in these centres, most of the released detainees recount.
"Over seven troopers pounced upon me as I was blindfolded. They took me to the notorious Papa 2 where I was asked to get undressed. Then the troopers beat me ruthlessly, my limbs tied down with rope. I fell unconscious and found my self in another torture cell when I regained senses," former SLF militant Tahir Mir recalls.
Liberation Front activist Ashraf-bin-Salam while tracing back the amount of brutality rebels would face in torutre cells, says the forces torturing the detainees would stoop so low that they would force the detainees to undress before each other and humiliate their fellows by slapping them. "Tell me why should the prison abuse in Iraq's Abu Ghraib panic us when we have the memories more horrible, much more guresome," Asharaf grovels when asked to coment on Iraq's prison controversy.
Most of the victims believe state government's introducing Jail Manual only in 1996 shows the callousness of state government. The new Jail Manual came up after international agencies including ICRC began to monitor the situation in Kashmir. ICRC signed an MOU in 1994 with Indian government that permitted their visit to various prisons of the strife-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the agreement doesn't approve their access to various torture cells and interrogation chambers resulting [in] the free hand to the forces at the helm.
"People beating their chests on Iraq revelations would fall flat if the horrifying stories from Kashmir torture centres were to get as much publicity as Abu Ghraib," says a down-range worker of Jama't-e-Islami.
(Greater Kashmir, Srinagar, 5 June 04).
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