US Paper Asks India to End Rights’ Violations in Kashmir

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WASHINGTON: Pressure is mounting on India over human rights abuses in Kashmir. After a recent US State Department report on Human rights violations by Indian forces in Kashmir, top US newspaper the New York Times has also warned that Indian democracy may lose its credibility in the face of abuses in Kashmir.

In its hard-hitting editorial, the US paper said the Indian army “reached a new low in the long history of alleged human rights abuses in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir when they beat and then tied a 24-year-old shawl weaver named Farooq Ahmad Dar to the front of a jeep on April 9, using him as a human shield against stone-throwing crowds.”

The paper came down hard on Indian army chief for his aggressive posturing in Kashmir referring to his recent statement in which General Bipin Rawat had vowed tough action against stone-throwing actvists.

“Such posturing will only doom Kashmir to a deadly spiral, where more brutal military tactics will feed more despair and more militancy,” the paper said while commenting on Indian general’s statement.

It urged the Indian government to improve human rights in the valley and initiate dialogue as recommended by a report presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government by a team of concerned citizens.

The said report had cited strong feelings of discrimination and a “complete lack of faith” by Kashmiris in government promises.

“Mr Modi’s government would do well to follow the recommendations of the report, before Indian democracy loses its credibility and Kashmiris are robbed of a chance to dream, along with the rest of India, of a peaceful, prosperous future.” the paper wrote.

Earlier this month,  US State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016” had also highlighted human right abuses by Indian forces in Kashmir after the July 8 killing of commander Burhan Wani.

The report said the indiscriminate use of shotguns loaded with birdshot by security forces to control crowds, including violent protests, in Jammu and Kashmir resulted in 87 civilian deaths and blinded hundreds more, including children.

“The central and state governments and the armed forces investigated complaints and punished some violations committed by government forces,” it reads. 

“There were few investigations and prosecutions of human rights violations arising from internal conflicts. NGOs claimed that due to AFSPA immunity provisions, authorities did not hold the armed forces responsible for the deaths of civilians killed in Jammu and Kashmir in previous years,” the report said.

Pakistan’s Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar who is in Washington this week has also urged the United States to play its role in resolving human rights crisis in Kashmir.

 “I think for regional peace, the global community has a responsibility to work on the flash issue of the region. It is outstanding for decades. And I would not go into details...but each one of you are privy to what has been happening in the last few months,” Dar told audience at top US think-tank Heritage Foundation.

“If we can resolve the (Kashmir) issue, the region can really see a lot of peace, it can save a lot of defence spending which can be diverted to social sector investment and it could be the real connectivity, which the region deserves,” said Dar, who is here to attend the annual Spring Meeting of the IMF and the World Bank.

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