Various Forms of State Terrorism in Kashmir

5th of February is being celebrated every year as the “Kashmir Day” by every Pakistani and Kashmiri all over the world to express solidarity with the freedom fighters, demanding their legitimate right of self-determination from India. In wake of the ongoing uprising (Intifada), the day not only reminds the sacrifices of Kashmiri people, but also history of various forms of state terrorism which have continued unabated by the Indian security forces and paramilitary troops on these innocent people.

Earlier, the misfortune of Kashmiris who comprises 94 percent in Jummu and Kashmir, started in 1846 when their territory was sold by the British colonialists to a Hindu, Gulab Singh who continued his brutal policies—memories of which remain alive today. During the Dogra rule (1846-1947), Kashmiri Muslims were leading so miserable life that it was difficult to differentiate them from beasts. Slave labour, capital punishment for cow slaughter, and living under constant terror was order of the day. On April 19, 1931, the ban of Eid Khutba ignited widespread demonstrations in the Jummu city. For the first time, people openly opposed the oppression. On July 13, 1931, thousands of people thronged the Central Jail Srinagar. As the time for obligatory prayer approached, a young Kashmiri stood for Azan. The Dogra soldiers opened fire at him. In this way, 22 Kashmiris embraced martyrdom in their efforts to complete the Azan.

When in 1948, a controversy arose between India and Pakistan on the dispute of Kashmir, India took the issue to the United Nations Security Council and offered to hold a plebiscite in the held Kashmir under UN supervision. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise. Instead, in March 1965, The Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India.

However, passing through various phases, during and after the partition, the struggle of Kashmiris which has become an interaction between the Indian state terrorism led by the Indian security forces and war of liberation by the freedom fighters keeps on going unabated.

Nevertheless, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army against Muslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has been manifested in brutal tactics such as crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter.

According to a recent report on Human Rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir by Indian Army and its paramilitary forces, there have been deaths of 93,274 innocent Kashmiri from 1989 to June 30, 2010. Besides this alarming figure of open killings by its security forces, there have been 6,969 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests, destruction, and razing of 105,861 houses and other physical structures in the use of the community as a whole. The brutal security forces have orphaned over 107, 351 children, widowed 22,728 women and gang raped 9,920 women. In June 2010 only, there have been 33 deaths including four children besides, torturing and injuring 572 people. The brutal Indian security forces molested eight women during this one month. This brief account indeed, is the reality of Indian achievements on which they are trumpeting for their success in the Kashmir through counter insurgency operations.

Over the two decades of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, Human Rights Watch has documented numerous failures to ensure protection of human rights. It has called for the repeal of laws such as the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, and the Public Safety Act. These laws provide the armed forces with extraordinary powers to search, detain, and use lethal force, leading to numerous human rights violations. They also provide immunity for security forces—their prosecutions, even where the facts are well established, are rare.

While in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir by indicating: “The Indian government’s disregard for human rights in Jammu and Kashmir means that in practice people reportedly died in custody and that the whereabouts of the “disappeared” persons continue to be unknown…government forces continue to commit serious violations of humanitarian law…the Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, security forces personnel have extraordinary powers including authority to shoot suspected lawbreakers, and to destroy structures suspected of harboring militants or arms.”

Kashmir Quarterly has reported, “Indian Forces killed a number of citizens, torched mosques, shops and houses in various parts of the valley. As a result, there were protest demonstrations in many cities. Troops desecrated the central Srinagar mosque and tortured worshippers whom they found inside.”

At present, Indian military and paramilitary troops are using all inhuman techniques of ethnic cleansing to disturb the majority population of the Kashmiris, which had been practised by the Serb forces on Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims.

It is of particular attention that the memory of the Serb atrocities has still been fresh in the minds of the Muslims, while India’s state eliminators have followed the same practice in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, in the worse form of state terrorism. In 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of Baramulla, Bandipore and Handwara. Then researchers and other groups reported finding thousands of single and mass graves without markers. In this regard, in the last few years, rights groups discovered nearly 3,000 unnamed graves in the various districts of Kashmir. In this respect, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves. The report indicated 2,156 unidentified bodies which were found in mass graves in various regions of the Indian-controlled Kashmir. Notably, foreign sources and human rights organisations have disclosed that unnamed graves include those innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and para-military troops in the fake encounters inculduing those who were tortured to death by the Indian secret agency RAW.

The question of unmarked graves which shows barbaric acts of Indian security forces in the Indian-held Kashmir is appearing with more details which were concealed by New Delhi. In this regard, in its recent report which, China’s leading News Agency Xinhua has unearthed more gruesome details on world-stunning unmarked graves in Poonch, in the Indian occupied Kashmir. While quoting reliable local sources, the report disclosed the statement of Sofi Aziz Joo, caretaker of a graveyard as saying, “Police and Army used to bring those bodies and direct me to bury them. The bodies were usually bullet-ridden, mutilated, faces disfigured and sometimes without limbs and heads.”

While, rights groups have disclosed that more than 8,000 people have disappeared, accusing government forces of staging fake gun battles to cover up killings. The groups also revealed that suspected rebels have been arrested and never heard from again.

Notably, Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), which in March 2008 released a report, titled, “Facts Underground”, had indicated the presence of unidentified graves. The APDP, which estimates around 10,000 people went missing during last two decades, claims, “many missing people may have ended up in these unmarked graves.”

In December 2009, another human rights group, the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights had released a report claiming that unnamed graveyards “entomb bodies of those, murdered in fake encounters and arbitrary executions.”

Nonetheless, Indian forces have intermittently been employing various patterns of military terrorism to maintain their alien rule on the occupied territories, but it seems that non-condemnation of these acts by the so-called US-led civilised international community has further encouraged India to step-up its atrocities on the armless Kashmiri masses. Indian authorities are not willing to talk with Kashmiri people on political grounds as they have reached to a conclusion that only bullet is the right way of dealing with them. But despite the employment of various forms of state terrorism in the Indian-held Kashmir, the war of liberation by the Kashmiri people will continue untill they get their legitimate right of self-determination.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations