AFAD Endorses Report on Torture in Indian Administered Kashmir

Manila (KW): The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) promotes the unprecedented report on the use of torture in Indian administered Kashmir by the Indian armed forces released by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) on 20th of May 2019. The report titled, ‘Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir’ is a very important piece of work, AFAD Secretary-General MARY AILEEN DIEZ BACALSO said in a statement emailed to Kashmir Watch.

This report, based on an examination of 432 case studies, highlights the trends, patterns and impact of torture that has been systematically used against Kashmiri people to curb resistance to the Indian State It also looks into the cover of impunity that has been guaranteed to the perpetrators. The report mentions that torture is used as a way of retaliation against the Kashmiri people, who the Indian State wants to control.

According to the report, “An inordinate 301 out of 432 torture victims were civilians, 119 were militants, 5 ex-militants (essentially civilians at the time of being tortured) and 2 from the Jammu & Kashmir Police. (Affiliations were unverified in 5 cases). The civilians include political activists, human rights activists, journalists and students. Of the 432, 27 were minors when tortured. Professionals like doctors, paramedics and journalists have also been regularly targeted and assaulted since the early 1990s.”

AFAD understands the close relationship between arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances. Victims of enforced disappearances are often detained without any records and tortured, leading to a high possibility that many of them are killed.

APDP has estimated around 8000 cases of enforced disappearances in Indian administered Kashmir since 1990 and over 7000 mass graves. The government acknowledges only 4587 cases of ‘missing’ persons. It claims that these persons crossed over to Pakistan in 1990s for arms training and never returned, refuting the claims of the families of the disappeared. Instead of probing the cases of disappeared persons, successive governments have repeatedly tried to obstruct inquiries and disseminate false and unverified information as to the whereabouts of the disappeared.

With an experience of over two decades of working on the issue of enforced/ involuntary disappearances in Asia which is closely related to the use of torture, AFAD understands the gravity of the problem and recognizes the significance of this report which successfully highlights the issue. Torture is rampant in Indian administered Kashmir and one of the gravest forms of human rights violation.

India is yet to ratify the Convention against Torture (CAT) despite signing it in 1997. In its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session in May 2017, India received recommendations for ratification of CAT from 35 States out of which it supported recommendations of 23 States. However the Government of India has shown no willingness to go ahead in the direction of ratification.

AFAD urges the international community in facilitating a campaign to persuade UNHRC for appointing the Commission of Inquiry for investigation of the human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir. Seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, India should be held morally accountable for violations of human rights in Jammu & Kashmir.