Post Abrogation of Article 370: Human Rights Groups Bust Centre's 'All is Well' Claim on Kashmir
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | India Tomorrow
SRINAGAR, DECEMBER 31—Two prominent rights groups have busted Centre’s “all is well” claim and painted a grim picture of human rights in Kashmir post-August 5 when Parliament abrogated Article 370 and downgraded the state into two union territories.
Releasing the annual human rights report, ‘A Review of Human Rights Situation in Jammu and Kashmir’, J&K Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) have detailed extra-judicial killings, detentions under controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) and habeas corpus petitions filed in courts pre and post-August 5.
“The 2019 will be remembered as a landmark year in the annals of J&K’s chequered history as the last vestiges of its limited autonomy were permanently revoked by Government of India on August 5. The decision was taken unilaterally without any consultation with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in violation of Article 1.1 of ICCPR”, reads the 100 pages report.
The report says that the decision was also accompanied by a military siege in which nearly one hundred thousand troops were deployed in the state – especially in Kashmir valley, manning streets, alleys and all major city and town squares.
“A strict curfew was enforced accompanied with a total communication blockade – in which all mobile phone services, internet services, and postal services were shut. Reports of allegations of mass arrests, torture, killings, use of excessive force, harassment and intimidation emerged soon after the abrogation of Article 370”, reads the report.
According to JKCCS and APDP, the year witnessed extra-judicial executions of at least 80 civilians in J&K, besides killings of 159 militants and 129 armed forces. Among 80 civilians killed in 2019, 12 are women.
“Out of the 80 civilians killed this year, 19 were killed by armed forces, 17 were killed in cross-LOC shelling between Indian and Pakistani armed forces. While 28 civilians were killed by unidentified gunmen, 6 were killed by militants, 7 were killed in explosions, one person died after being allegedly hit by a stone and one person (a non-local) died in cross-firing between armed forces and militants”, reads the report.
The report notes that while the Government of India has refused to acknowledge any civilian killing, the documented cases of killings by JKCCS and APDP post-August 5 at the hands of state forces reveal otherwise. “JKCCS and APDP have been able to document at least six killings at the hands of the Indian armed forces following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5”, it reads.
The report maintains that as many as 662 fresh PSA detentions were registered in 2019 out of whom the majority (412) was registered post August 5. “While the Centre claimed in Parliament on November 20, that ‘5,161 persons were detained since August 5 out of whom 609 were under detention while rest were released’, - there is no clear statement on how many were booked under PSA”, it adds.
Post-August 5, there was large number of Habeas Corpus petitions filed in J&K High Court by affected people. “The total number of Habeas Corpus petitions filed before J&K High Court in 2019 was 662. The total number of Habeas Corpus petitions filed before August 5, 2019 was 250. The total number of Habeas Corpus petitions filed post-August 5 was 412. Total number of PSA’s quashed in 2019 were 8 including 3 minors”, says the report.
Aside from the detentions under 107/151 CrPC and under PSA, the report says, there were hundreds of detentions which were not recorded and which are technically illegal detentions. “There were people who were detained in police stations and were later in a couple of days released without being charged or recorded. There have been allegations by many that in some police stations bribes were being sought for the release of these detainees”, alleges the report.