JKCCS and APDP release report on torture in Kashmir
File Photo Used for Representational Purpose
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has advocated for the United Nations to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate what it calls the endemic use of torture by government forces in Kashmir valley.
The report provides the recent example of a 29-year-old school principal, Rizwan Pandith was killed due to torture after being illegally detained in the Cargo camp of the Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir Police.
The report focuses on torture in Jammu and Kashmir titled Torture:
Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir.
The report noted that torture is the most under-reported human rights violation perpetrated by the state.
“Due to legal, political and moral impunity extended to the armed forces, not a single prosecution has taken place in any case of human rights violations” in the region, it added.
The report includes stripping the detainees naked (190 out of 432 cases studied for this report), beating with sticks, iron rods or leather belts (326 cases), roller treatment (169 cases), water-boarding (24 cases), dunking detainees’ head in water (101 cases), electrocution including in genitals (231 cases), hanging from the ceiling, mostly upside down (121 cases), burning of the body with hot objects (35 cases), solitary confinement (11 cases), sleep deprivation (21 cases), sexual torture (238 cases) including rape and sodomy, among others.
According to the report, the methods of torture after the eruption of militancy include stripping the detainees naked, rolling a heavy log on the legs, waterboarding, electrocution including of genitals, burning of the body with hot objects, sleep deprivation, and sexual torture, including rape and sodomy.
‘Three days later, the Police filed a case against deceased Rizwan, alleging that he was trying to escape from the Police custody while no case was filed against Police officials under whose custody he was killed.’ It added.
This report gives a brief understanding of the historical background in the use of torture in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 to curb any dissenting voices, a practice which attained an unprecedented magnitude post-1990.
The report categorizes the eras after 1990 during which torture and other human rights violations, while still being carried out by the Indian armed forces and Jammu & Kashmir Police, were also outsourced to different formations like Ikhwan and Village Defence Committees (VDCs).
This report establishes that the vast number of methods of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment as set out in the UN OHCHR Istanbul Protocol, have been and continue to be perpetrated in Jammu and Kashmir.
The report points out that a predominant majority of the torture victims are civilians: 301 out of 432, which include women, students and juveniles, political activists, human rights activists and journalists. “Entire populations have also been subjected to collective punishments like cordon and search operations (CASOs) during which torture and sexual violence has been common.” It says.
This report provides an insight into how torture has ruined the lives of survivors with a multitude of them suffering from chronic ailments resulting from torture.
Since policies like Operation All Out continue in Kashmir and the army is given a “free hand” as declared by the Prime Minister of India as recently as 15 February 2019, the armed forces are only emboldened to continue perpetrating torture. This report is an attempt by APDP and JKCCS to break the silence around such a penetrating violation, report added.
“Apart from the physical ailments, people who have been tortured or even witnessed it, have suffered from psychological issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 49 of the 432 victims of torture died post-torture, 40 of them as a result of injuries received during torture.” The reports outlines
Adding that since many deaths due to torture-related injuries are not immediate but may occur after years or even decades, accurate figures of such fatalities and morbidity are extremely hard to estimate.
The reports says that torture has been associated with other human rights violations like custodial deaths and enforced disappearances. And it is only when a case of torture is accompanied by such human rights violations that it gets reported in the media. As a result, torture has remained unnoticed and survivors continue to suffer in silence.