Human Rights

Indian human rights violations continue in Kashmir despite UN rights panel's censure

Srinagar (29 September 2017): India only “noted” the recommendations on enforced disappearances in the 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) instead of “accepting” it, emphasized Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in an emailed statement here.

Terming India’s response to the recommendations and the criticism of its human rights record as unsatisfactory, the Association said that it has once again shown irresponsible behavior towards human rights. The UPR created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, is a process that involves a review of human rights records of all UN member states. The UPR is a state-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each state to declare what actions it has taken to improve the human rights situation in its country and to fulfill its human rights obligations. The UPR also receives submissions from various human rights organizations and individuals, which then go to the country for whom the recommendations are made or the allegation of the violations are made against.

The Association too files submissions, said its chairperson Parveena Ahangar, and through its efforts wants to disseminate information about enforced disappearances and other human rights violations in Kashmir to the world community. “The role of APDP is to garner support from all around the world to pressurize India to look into the practice of enforced disappearances and allow independent groups to investigate into it and bring to justice the perpetrators of this war crime. It urges the world community to pressurize India to ratify the laws and conventions of the enforced disappearances in particular and other human rights laws in general, of which India is signatory,” said APDP chairperson, adding “the Indian state to this date has not ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICCPED), 2006 and the Association demands that it ratifies the said conventions.”

The statement further added that in its response, India denied the existence of torture saying torture is “alien to Indian culture.” The APDP chairperson however, alleged that torture in Kashmir over the past 27 years has been used by India as a weapon to instill fear among the population, torturing thousands of Kashmiri civilians, militants and political activists. “The infamous torture centers like Papa 1, Papa 2, Red 16, JICs (Joint interrogation centers), temporary torture centers, which have been documented by the media and human rights organisations, are a clear example of the torture practices in Kashmir.In recent times, torture is still a rampant practice in Kashmir. In the 2016 uprising, media reports and personal testimonies suggest that hundreds of political activists, protesters, were tortured by security forces, CRPF, police and allied forces in jails.” APDP strongly condemns such inhuman practice and urges on the world community to pressurize India to stop it and let independent bodies investigate into the torture practices.

Similarly, many member countries recommended to India that it should look into the enforced disappearances at the hands of the security forces, army and state-backed militia, said the statement. “However, India has dodged this too and brushed these allegations aside. The Indian state to this date has still not ratified ICCPED, 2006. In addition, reports suggest that over 8000 people have been disappeared in Kashmir since 1989. The Association has documented the cases of enforced disappearances and reports that the families face insurmountable hurdles while seeking accountability for the enforced disappearances of their family members.”

The statement further argued that India, as in the last two UPRs, has again defended the use of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as an important law to contain insurgency and terrorism.The immunity provided under AFSPA and the lack of political will, the statement said, has resulted in non-accountability of the armed forced as well as police for perpetrating inhuman violence against the people of Kashmir (violation of Right to Life).” Quoting Amnesty International, it said that the global human rights body in its reports reiterated “till date not even a single alleged perpetrator of human rights violations has been prosecuted in a civilian court. Victims and their families routinely face intimidation and threats from the security forces when attempting to bring cases against soldiers.”

The Association maintained that the response of India to the recommendations with respect to AFSPA is “a ploy to dodge the repealing of this draconian act from Kashmir.”

It further stated that even though the Indian state, in a report presented to UNHR, promised to intensify its efforts towards training and orientation of security and other law enforcement officers towards human rights, the actual implementation on the ground is missing. “The security forces continue to use the same old practices in Kashmir and have absolutely no training in how to control crowds during protests. The use of pellet guns has been indiscriminate in the last seven years and most of the injuries sustained by victims due to their use by the armed forces are above the abdomen area.”

The APDP chairperson further alleged that the Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act, 1967 is indiscriminately used in Kashmir.“This Act, in fact, becomes the base for slapping Public Safety Act (PSA) against dissidents. On an average more than 1,000 Kashmiris are arrested under this Act every year. Neither any recommendation nor any action has been taken by India with regard to PSA.” The statement added that with respect to extra judicial killings, India, in its response, claimed that it has taken “measures towards ensuring accountability for such violations” but no single Indian armed personnel has been held accountable for carrying out extra-judicial killings over the past 30 years of the conflict.

The Indian state in its report further claimed to remain committed to preserving the freedom of press, religious freedom, human rights on internet, right to privacy apart from making other self-favoring claims, however, in Kashmir, this commitment has been relegated to the periphery, emphasized the statement. “The press and the journalists are constantly attacked in Kashmir by the state (violation on Right to Freedom of Expression). The news of journalists being thrashed, threatened, beaten and booked under draconian laws are rampant.”

The Association further added that internet services were suspended 31 times within the last one year and a complete clampdown of internet services, telephone services and mobile services was imposed for four months during the 2016 summer unrest. “The news reports suggest that security forces barge into the houses of civilians without any warrant, go through their belongings and frisk the members of the families inappropriately. The civilians are frisked at checkpoints and the contents of their mobile phones, personal diaries, etc. are checked without permission by the security forces (violation of Right to Privacy).”

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