Surge in Human Rights Abuse in J&K in 2017; Torture Remained Under-Reported: Report
A report on human rights in Jammu and Kashmir found that the “uprising of 2016”, contrary to government claims, carried forward into 2017.
TNN Bureau. Updated: 1/2/2018 2:47:53 PM

Srinagar, Jan 2: The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has, in its annual review of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir, stated that the state in 2017 “witnessed an upward surge in human rights abuses” in comparison to the previous year.

The JKCCS observed that torture continued to be the “most ignored and under-reported subject in Jammu and Kashmir” and that “denial of access to UN delegates or denying visas to human rights activists and journalists only illustrates that the government of India is scared of accurate information about widespread rights violations in Kashmir being disseminated”.

The organisation said that even though the Kashmir Valley was gripped in a mass uprising following Burhan Wani’s killing in July 2016, when it came to the graph of killings, “the year 2017 witnessed a total of 450 killings, which included civilians, militants and armed forces”.

Uprising of 2016 carried into 2017

The report finds that the “uprising of 2016”, contrary to government claims, carried forward into 2017 with widespread student protests witnessed in almost every district of the valley following armed forces’ assault on students in Pulwama Degree College in April. “Hundreds of students were injured in clashes with the armed forces and many were arrested. Schools and colleges of the Valley remained shut for many days and in some cases even for weeks during this cycle of protests,” the report read.

The report also mentioned how the student protests were preceded by unprecedented election day violence on April 9, when at least eight civilians were shot dead by armed forces personnel in Budgam and Ganderbal during the Srinagar by-election. Referring to the case of Farooq Ahmad Dar, it said, “on the day of the by-election in Srinagar constituency in April, a civilian was first tortured and then used as a human shield by an army major in Beerwah, after he had cast his vote, causing widespread condemnation and media coverage of the event.”

The annual report also stated that the use of pellet guns against civilian protestors, which had drawn widespread condemnation in 2016, continued unabated in Kashmir, with fresh cases of pellet injuries reported throughout the year. It also claimed that there were “a few incidents of enforced disappearances in Kupwara and Handwara districts of the valley”.

The JKCCS found that while the ‘Operation All Out’, launched by the army in June 2017, has so far resulted in the killing of 217 militants, the highest in the last eight years, the frequency of encounters has also resulted in “what has been termed ‘encounter-site civilian killings’ in which at least 19 civilians have been shot dead by armed forces personnel”.

On the issue of civilian killing, it said, the government probes ordered into the four cases in 2016 had not shown much progress. “In the high profile case of Tufail Matoo, who was shot dead in 2010, the government has refused to share the findings of the Koul Commission report with the public, least of all with those who participated in the formation of the report and gave testimonies to the one-man commission, which was constituted by Omar Abdullah government to probe the civilian killings of 2010 and assign responsibility for the killings.”

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