Human rights in IIOJK under 3-pronged attack: Experts

Srinagar, December 13 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, one million Indian troops are deployed in cities, towns and villages to brutally suppress Kashmiris, freedom activists, human rights activists and institutions as serious rights violations continue with impunity in the territory.

An analytical report released by Kashmir Media Service, quoting human rights activists, said, the plight of Kashmiris has increased on an unprecedented scale since 5 Aug 2019 illegal measures. They said, Kashmiris of all age groups are facing brutal military siege. Human rights defender Muhammad Ahsan Untoo said, the Human Rights Commission, a statutory rights body which heard cases of rights violations was rendered ineffective when India scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5 last year. Untoo deplored that mass beating in Aban Shah, Srinagar, and the murder of three cousins by Indian troops in Shopian in fake encounter could not have been heard by any proper investigation body.

According to Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a former professor of law and noted political commentator, there is a three-pronged attack on human rights in Kashmir. While the rights violations have not stopped, the Modi government scrapped a diploma course on human rights at Kashmir University. Its own State Human Rights Commission ceased to function. And now, human rights organizations and activists have been targeted,” he said.

Untoo was detained at Srinagar Central Jail from Aug. 5, 2019 to Aug. 13, 2020 under a preventive detention law. He was again arrested on Oct. 2 and released on Nov. 23. On Oct. 29, India’s notorious National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided the office of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition for Civil Society (JKCCS) and the residence of its Ooordinator, Khurram Parvez, an award winning human rights defender. The NIA said the raids were conducted in connection with an investigation into inputs that some trusts were “collecting funds domestically and abroad and then using these to fund secessionist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Several computers of the JKCCS were seized. Credited with bringing out elaborate reports on rights violations by Indian forces, the JKCCS has stopped functioning since the raids. The report mentioned the episodes of a few residents to show how Indian forces have turned Kashmir into a living hell for its residents: On Nov. 26, Muhammad Saleem, a secondary school teacher, was checking exam papers of his students when he heard gunfire. It had been years since the last firing incident occurred in the area called Aban Shah, a semi-urban locality in the outskirts of Srinagar.

Almost an hour later, people started coming out of their homes only to learn that two Indian soldiers were shot dead. About midnight the next day, a large group of masked soldiers from a nearby camp took more than 35 men, including Saleem, 27, from their homes, walked them to an intersection where they were beaten up with polycarbonate sticks, fists and kicks. Saleem’s medical records from Government Bone and Joint Hospital read “physical assault”. Doctors prescribed him complete bed rest. Fearing repeat of the army beating, he had shifted to a relative’s home and returned only on Tuesday. Wearing a belt and crepe bandage in his feet, he still struggles to sit up.

Sitting beside him was his 20-year-old brother, Adil, who has a plastered right wrist. After the beating, he found moving fingers painful. His medical record reads: “assault by army”. A student of agriculture sciences, Adil is worried whether he can sit in his second semester examination beginning on Dec. 15. Doctors have recommended plaster for two weeks ending this Sunday. A shopkeeper Altaf Ahmad showed media baton markings, now faded a light shade of purple, on his right hip. He said that when the firing started he pushed his seven-year-old nephew to the floor and “felt my heart sink with each gunshot. “When you are face to face with death, would you look at who is firing and who is getting fired at?” he said.

A 19-year-old boy who works at a bakery is still nursing injuries at home. His impoverished father, Abdul Samad, laments not only job days lost but also the cost of treatment. The family of a mentally challenged youth, who was hit in the head, was readying for a computerised tomography. Saleem smiled when he said that the army had termed — in a statement to a local news outlet — the people’s testimonies as fabricated. “You think out of blue my brother grew a plaster and I decided to wear a back belt? I haven’t even checked those,” he said, pointing to a stack of notebooks and answer sheets. The residents of Aban Shah have resigned to their fate. Nobody has filed a complaint with the police, as they believe none would be punished. “Don’t we know what happened to the thousands of inquiries the administration ordered into countless incidents of human rights violations for the past three decades,” said Samad. But Muhammad Yusuf, a sheep farmer, is determined not to give up what he calls the “fight for justice”. A resident of Rajouri, a district in Jammu province of Jammu and Kashmir, Yusuf media that he has filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court against the soldiers responsible for the killing of his son Abrar Ahmad, 25, and his two cousins, Abrar Khatana, 18, and Imtiyaz Ahmad, 21.