World Bulletin / News Desk
Amnesty International has released a damning report titled “Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir,” by the London-based rights group is based on the examination of nearly 100 cases of alleged human rights abused by Indian forces between 1990 and 2012 and interviews with 58 family members of the victims in 2013.
According to Amnesty, it showed how the government’s response to reports of human rights violations has failed to deliver justice for several victims and families.
The report acknowledged that ddressing Jammu and Kashmir’s impunity problem, and indeed India’s attitude towards impunity is a challenge however it was imperative that it in order to ensure justice to victims of human rights violations, and facilitate the healing process for those who have suffered during the course of Jammu and Kashmir’s decades of struggle and alienation.
A new controversial law that also gives Indian soldiers legal impunity in Kashmir is fuelling reports of grave human rights abuses including the killing of innocent civilians. The emergency law gives thousands of soldiers and paramilitary forces sweeping powers to shoot on sight, detain suspects without trial and seize property.
Successive governments and the army have refused calls for the law to be repealed, and have argued that it is necessary to quell insurgencies and track down militants.
But Amnesty and other groups have repeatedly said the law, also in force in Indian's northeast did nothing but bred further violence and alienation.
The report includes interviews with families whose relatives have allegedly been killed, sexually assaulted or tortured by soldiers and is based in part on the examination of court, police and other official records.
“I have lost faith in police and the courts, but I have faith in Allah,” said Munawara Sultana, 43, who has been fighting for justice since 1993 when her husband was killed during a search by paramilitaries in Srinagar.
Police were also reluctant to file cases against soldiers accused of wrongdoing, and the army was unwilling to cooperate even if police did decide to investigate, the report said.
Since 1990 the government has refused 44 requests from local authorities to prosecute accused troops, a requirement under AFSPA, it said.
Despite the fact that the army has declared “zero tolerance” for abuses, it has dismissed as “false or baseless” 96 per cent of the more than 1,500 complaints of military wrongdoing between 1993 and 2011, the report said.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1947. Both countries claim the disputed territory in its entirety.
Since 1989 groups have been fighting India for independence or a merger of the Himalayan territory with Pakistan.
Spokesmen for India’s defense ministry and ministry of home affairs, under which military and paramilitary forces function, said they weren’t able to comment on the report immediately.
Read the full report here.