Indian Armed Forces
Thousands of Kashmiris have reported to be killed by Indian security forces in custody, extradjudicial executions and enforced disappearances and these human right violations are said to be carried out by Indian security forces under total impunity.Civilians including women and children have been killed in “reprisal” attacks by Indian security forces. International NGO’s as well as the US State Department have documented human rights abuses including disappearances, torture and arbitrary executions carried out during India’s counter terrorism operations. United Nations has expressed serious concerns over large number of killings by Indian security forces. Human Rights groups have also accused the Indian security forces of using child soldiers, although the Indian government denies this allegation.Torture, widely used by Indian security, the severity described as beyond comprehension by amnesty international has been responsible for the huge number of deaths in custody The Telegraph, citing a WikiLeaks report quotes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that Indian security forces were physically abusing detainees by beatings, electrocutions and sexual interference. These detainees weren’t Islamic insurgents or Pakistani-backed insurgents but civilians, in contrast to India’s continual allegations of Pakistani involvement. The detainees were “connected to or believed to have information about the insurgents”. According to ICRC, 681 of the 1296 detainees whom it interviewed claimed torture. US officials have been quoted reporting “terrorism investigations and court cases tend to rely upon confessions, many of which are obtained under duress if not beatings, threats, or in some cases torture.” Amnesty International accused security forces of exploiting the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that enables them to “hold prisoners without trial”. The group argues that the law, which allows security to detain individuals for as many as two years “without presenting charges, violating prisoners’ human rights”.
On 22 October 1993, the 13th Battalion of the Border Security Forces was accused of arbitrarily firing on a crowd and killing 37 civilians in Bijbehara. The number of reported dead and wounded vary by source. Amnesty International reported that at least 51 people died and 200 were wounded on that day.
The Indian government conducted two official enquiries and the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) conducted a third. In March 1994 the government indicted the Border Security Force (BSF) for firing into the crowd “without provocation” and charged 13 BSF officers with murder. In another incident which took place at Handwara on 25 January 1990, 9 protesters were killed by the same unit.
During the Amarnath land transfer controversy more than 40 unarmed protesters were killed by the personnels of Central Reserve Police Force. At least 300 were detained under Public Safety Act, including teenagers. The same practice was again repeated by the personnels of the Central Reserve Police Force, during the 2010 Kashmir Unrest, which resulted in 112 deaths, including many teenager protesters at various incidents.
Special Operations Group
The Special Operations Group was raised in 1994 for counter terrorism. A volunteer force, mainly came for promotions and cash rewards, comprising police officers and policemen from the Jammu and Kashmir Police. The group is accused of torture and costodial killings. A Senior Superintendent of this group and his deputy are among the 11 personnels, who were convicted for a fake encounter, which killed a local carpenter, and was labelled as a millitant to get the promotions and rewards.
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958
In July 1990 Indian Armed Forces were given special powers under an Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) that gives protection to Indian Armed Forces personnel from being prosecuted. The law provides them a shield, when committing human rights violations and has been criticised by Human Rights Watch as being wrongly used by the forces. This law is widely condemned by human rights groups. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay has urged India to repeal AFSPA and to investigate the disappearances in Kashmir.
“All three special laws in force in the state assist the government in shielding the perpetrators of human rights violations from prosecution, and encourage them to act with impunity. Provisions of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act clearly contravene international human rights standards laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as members of the UN Human Rights Committee have pointed out. One Committee member felt that provisions of the act – including imunity from prosecution – were highly dangerous and encouraged violations of the right to life“.
— A clipping from a report published by the Amnesty International, 1995.
Hundreds of civilian’s including women and children have been reported to be extrajudicially executed by Indian security forces and killings concealed as fake encounters. Despite government denial, Indian security officials have reportedly confessed to human right watch of widespread occurrence of fake encounters and its encouragement for awards and promotions. According to a BBC interview with an anonymous security person, ‘fake encounter’ killings are those in which security personnel kill someone in cold blood while claiming that the casualty occurred in a gun battle.
Indian security forces have been implicated in many reports for enforced disappearances of thousands of Kashmiris where the security forces deny having their information and/or custody. This is often in association with torture or extrajudicial killing. The number of men disappeared have been so many to have a new term “half-widows” for their wives who end up impoverished. Human right activists estimate the number of disappeared over eight thousand, last seen in government detention. These are believed to be dumped in thousands of mass graves across Kashmir.
Mass graves have been identified all over Kashmir by human right activists believed to contain bodies of thousands of Kashmiris of enforced disappearances. A state human rights commission inquiry confirmed there are thousands of bullet-ridden bodies buried in unmarked graves in Jammu and Kashmir. Of the 2730 bodies uncovered in 4 of the 14 districts, 574 bodies were identified as missing locals in contrast to the Indian governments insistence that all the graves belong to foreign militants. According to a new deposition submitted by Parvez Imroz and his field workers asserted that the total number of unmarked graves were about 6,000. The British parliament commented on the recent discovery and expressed its sadness and regret of over 6,000 unmarked graves. Christof Heyns, a special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, has warned India that “all of these draconian laws had no place in a functioning democracy and should be scrapped.”
In a 1994 report, Human Rights Watch described summary executions of detainees as a “hallmark” of counter-insurgency operations by Indian security forces in Kashmir. The report further stated that such extrajudicial killings were often administered within hours of arrest, and were carried out not as aberrations but as a “matter of policy”. In a 1995 report, Amnesty International stated that hundred of civilians had been victims of such killings, which were often claimed by officers as occurring during “encounters” or “cross-fire”. A 2010 US state department report cited extrajudicial killings by security forces in areas of conflict such as Kashmir as a major human rights problem in India.
According to a report, 17,000 people, mostly women, have committed suicide during the last 20 years in the Valley. According to a study by the Medecins Sans Frontieres,
“Women in Kashmir have suffered enormously since the separatist struggle became violent in 1989–90. Like the women in other conflict zones, they have been raped, tortured, maimed and killed. A few of them were even jailed for years together. Kashmiri women are among the worst sufferers of sexual violence in the world. ‘Sexual violence has been routinely perpetrated on Kashmiri women, with 11.6% of respondents saying they were victims of sexual abuse’,”
At the beginning of the insurgency there were 1200 patients in the valley‘s sole mental hospital. The hospital is now overcrowded with more than 100,000 patients.