Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the disregard for the lives and physical integrity of people in Jammu and Kashmir shown by all sides in the state. The right to life is laid down in major international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which India has ratified, and in the Indian Constitution. Article 6(1) of the ICCPR says: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
Likewise, Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 strictly forbids the killing of anyone “taking no active part in hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause”.
Amnesty International believes that the language publicly used by state officials in Jammu and Kashmir both betrays and strengthens disregard for the most fundamental of all rights, the right to life. Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah is on record frequently to have called for the ‘elimination’ of militants and the ‘sanitization’ of areas of militants’ presence.
Four UN special rapporteurs have asked the Indian government to investigate the alleged torture and custodial killings of several Kashmiri Muslim men since January 2019.
UN officials seek investigation of Kashmiri killings and torture
A report was sent to the Indian government on May 4 over “the continued deterioration of human rights conditions” in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, documenting several cases of “arbitrary detentions, violations to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and rights of persons belonging to minorities.”
“We remain deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights violations,” said the report shared on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR) website this week.
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They called on New Delhi “to conduct a promo and impartial investigation into all the allegations of arbitrary killings, torture and ill-treatment and to prosecute suspected perpetrators.”
“We express grave concern at the alleged excessive use of force, torture and other forms of ill-treatment reportedly committed during the arrest and detention and death in custody of the … persons,” the rapporteurs said.
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Citing over a dozen cases of custodial torture, the report concluded: “They appear to be targeted based on their ethnicity and/or religious identities.”
‘Targeted’ arbitrary killings and torture: UN seeks details regarding Kashmir
It said that “arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment” led to the death of victims in “at least 4 cases.”
I hold my bet on the likelihood of #India's true face being too exposed…
Muzzling, injuring & killing opponents
— Bea (@HerNameIs_Bea) September 21, 2018
Among these cases is the death of Rizwan Pandit, a 29-year-old teacher who died in police custody on March 19 last year.
The report, quoting Pandit’s preliminary autopsy report, said he died of bleeding caused by multiple injuries. “He allegedly had torture marks on his corpse but the autopsy report was never made public,” it said.
The UN officials said New Delhi did not reply to the report within the stipulated 60-day period that ended this month.
They also expressed regret that they had received “no response” to two earlier communications sent to the Indian government on Aug. 16, 2019 and Feb. 27 this year.
The four UN special rapporteurs – on torture, extrajudicial killings, minority issues, and freedom of religion – had asked the Indian government to furnish further details about these alleged cases of torture and extrajudicial killings, as well as the fate of any subsequent investigations.
They also sought details of the steps taken to address the allegations and information about laws for safeguarding religious minorities.
Kashmir: a disputed region
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Kashmir, a Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.#StructuralViolenceInIOJK@TeamISPOfficial pic.twitter.com/557fzUsWfc
— 𝙴𝚁𝙵𝙰𝙽ᴹᴬᴸᴵᴷ ༊ (@iDrErfan) April 6, 2020
Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk