Shazia Ahad: India Keeping Forces Brutality in Kashmir Unreported

Fars News Agency

14 Jul 2019

India Keeping Forces Brutality in Kashmir Unreported

Shazia Ahad: India Keeping Forces Brutality in Kashmir Unreported

TEHRAN (FNA)- Shazia Ahad, Kashmiri scholar and activist, says India denies United Nations delegations to its various jails in Kashmir, and blocks foreign correspondents from reporting from Kashmir, impeding any reports on the use of excessive force and torture against Kashmiris.
Speaking with FNA in an exclusive interview, Shazia Ahad added the Indian forces use torture as a means of extracting information “… or even forced confessions from the victims… Young men have been subjected to re-victimization where they are caught into a continuous cycle of arbitrary or illegal detentions, torture and harassment for years”.

Shazia Ahad is a Kashmiri scholar and activist. She is a researcher at Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (CCS), a Srinagar-based human rights organizations reporting and documenting Kashmiris rights status.

Below is the full text of the interview:

Q: Kashmir has been the scene of conflict between civilians and Indian forces for some seven decades. Still, there is little known about the conflict worldwide. Why has the conflict remained unreported?

A: Jammu and Kashmir, a region which is disputed between India and Pakistan, has been a place where the local population has been subjected to gross human rights violations including killings, torture and enforced disappearances for decades. The United Nations Security Council has passed resolutions according to which the dispute is to be resolved by giving Kashmiris their right to self determination and holding a plebiscite. Still, India has played down the conflict by always calling it an “internal matter”. India has repeatedly denied access to various United Nations Special Rapporteurs even after multiple requests have been made. Other organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that was working with the prisoners held in various jails in Kashmir worked under a limited mandate, due to which it could not report any human rights violations. India has been denying access to Kashmir to the foreign journalists. So, India has been actively trying to essentially block all the information about the ground realities of Kashmir from the world in which it has succeeded to a large extent. Most recently the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, has called Kashmir as the “information black hole” due to the repeated denials of access to the area.

Q: There are hundreds of thousands of Indian armed forces stationed in Kashmir. Why does India need these many forces in that region?

A: There are more than 700,000 Indian armed forces present in Jammu and Kashmir making it the most densely militarized region in the world. Kashmir has an omnipresence of permanent and temporary military establishments such as air-fields, firing ranges, cantonments, camps, barracks, bunkers, check posts, many of which function out of places meant as civilian facilities such as university campuses and research institutes, stadiums, cinema halls, schools, hospitals, recreational clubs and government rest houses.

As mentioned in the recently released report by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir, the disproportionate presence of Indian armed forces in Kashmir is mainly to exercise control over the general population. The widespread human rights violations, perpetrated by the Indian armed forces against Kashmiris, is a policy employed to break people’s will and to display the power and dominance over the entire population. This is reflected in the Indian Army’s Doctrine on Sub-Conventional Operations, which says, “The endeavour should be to bring about a realization that fighting a government is a ‘no win’ situation and that their anti-government stance will only delay the process of restoration of peace and normalcy.”

Q: A recently released report says the Indian forces practice severe torture against Kashmiri detainees, 70% of them civilians. Why do Indian forces torture ordinary civilians?

A: The report is built on the 432 case studies. There are multiple reasons why the civilians are tortured. But before seeing the reasons of why these civilians were tortured, we have to understand the policy that the Indian State has adopted in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 but more specifically since 1990 when the armed struggle for self determination started. The Indian State has adopted a policy of coercion and force to bring the entire population into submission and crush the popular sentiment for the political resolution of the conflict. This policy has allowed the Indian armed forces to inflict indiscriminate human rights violations in Kashmir, including torture. The State provides complete impunity to its armed forces for any human rights violations, making it complicit.

Furthermore, torture has been used as a means to extract information or even forced confessions from the victims. Torture has been used as a measure of reprisal and punishment. Young men have been subjected to re-victimization where they are caught into a continuous cycle of arbitrary or illegal detentions, torture and harassment for years.