Monday, October 1, 2007

Geneva Convention adopts a working paper on Kashmir

Geneva Convention adopts a working paper on Kashmir




Photo: Kashmir Watch

Geneva (Palais des Nations)
, September 27: History was made at the extraordinary two day successful "Geneva Convention on Kashmir: The Making of Peace in Kashmir – Analysing Promotion   and Protection of Human Rights and Right to Self-Determination" held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. The last day of this two day convention concluded with the adoption of "Geneva Convention on Kashmir – Working Paper" voted on by the delegates from around the world. These included politicians, academics, scholars, Jurists, human rights activists, humanitarian organizations, think tanks, and other NGOs.


Photo: Kashmir Watch

In the opening plenary, Barrister Majid Tramboo, Chair & Executive Director, ICHR Kashmir Centre.EU, in his opening remarks offered inspirational words of welcome and encouragement. He outlined the role of the United Nations in contentious issues such as the Jammu and Kashmir issue. He asserted that – " The biggest challenge that is haunting the "peace process" is huge military presence in Jammu and Kashmir. According to various estimates, there are more than 700,000 gun-toting army and paramilitary forces in the streets, outside houses, hospitals, schools, religious places, in the fields and mountains. The men in uniform are ubiquitous and seen everywhere. There is roughly one army man for every ten Kashmiris. One can only imagine the life under such a heavy presence of the army and their paraphernalia. The situation on the ground makes a common Kashmiri skeptical about the peace as reminds them of their uncertain present and bleak future as the politics remains in continous flux.  The huge army presence has given rise to their unwanted contact with the resenting civilians. This leads to continous gross human rights violations. Thus an unending cycle of violence is born and sustained. The massive army has also stifled growth of local agriculture, education and strained the natural resources beyond limit as the army has occupied huge tracts of agricultural land, educational institutions and government buildings. This has also put a massive pressure on the local environment."


H.E. Ambassador Masood Khan, Pakistan Mission to the United Nations, Geneva said that – "The UN Charter established the right to self-determination. The two international covenants affirmed the right to self-determination of all peoples by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural rights.


The people of Jammu and Kashmir have not yet exercised this right. The lodestar for the Kashmiris are several UN Security Council Resolutions that promised them a fair and impartial plebiscite to ascertain their political will. That promise has not been fulfilled. Meeting on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council, we can look at three dimensions: (a) the state of human rights; (B) the ongoing Pak-India composite dialogue and Confidence Building Measures involving Kashmiris; and (C) the quest for a long solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.


This Convention being held in Geneva should call for an immediate end to the human rights abuses in IOK. Dialogue is the crucible for solutions. So far, Pakistan and India have held three rounds of composite dialogue and they are into the fourth round. The result is mixed. The dialogue, however, has not moved forward on the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, though a willingness to address the issue has been expressed.


We need to step up efforts to find a solution of the dispute that is acceptable to Pakistan, India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. For durable solutions, we need statesmanship, courage and flexibility."


Bilal A. Lone, Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference and a leader of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) said that it is regrettable that the government of India has stalled talks with APHC and that currently there are no negotiation going on between APHC and the Indian government. He hoped that the "Peace Process" between the governments of India and Pakistan shall remain on course and that these initiatives will have direct impact on the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir particularly with regards to human rights conditions there.


Photo: Kashmir Watch

Farooq Siddiqi, Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), analyzing the democratic values of the governments of India said – "The claimant of largest democracy in the world holds civilian people under siege with 800 hundred thousand army presence within its streets, villages and hamlets. You will find how the claimant of responsible democratic country uses inhuman laws and methods to stifle the voice of freedom. You will find how under the garb of fighting terrorism it uses its acquired military might to unleash   terror in the Valley of Kashmir upon civilian people in order to negate the basic unalienable right to decide their future as guaranteed by the international community. You will find how fully it shut its eyes to daily killings of men, women and children as a matter of routine governance in Kashmir.  Democracy do not function in the absence of freedom, it has no relevance when people are besieged. If democracies commit human rights abuse like in Kashmir, such democracies are not defined by moral power of people, but the powerful define democracy, thereby undermining its purpose of governance."

Advocate Nazir Ahmed Ronga, President of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, insisted upon the Kashmir Centric CBM providing some kind of relief to the Kashmiri people. He appealed to the governments of India and Pakistan to give peace a chance and to avoid confrontation.  He particularly emphasized for the repeal of all draconian laws.


Dr. Z.U. Khan, Special Advisor to the President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir & Vice-Chancellor of the AJK University said that– "With Track 2 diplomacy and President Musharraf's four points formula of demilitarization, self-governance, irrelevant borders and joint control which seems to be most realistic, is expected to bring peace and prosperity without compromising anyone's belief or the spirit of the International agreement – UN Resolutions."



Photo: Kashmir Watch

Per Gahrton (Director of the Swedish Green Think Tank COGITO and a former Member of the European Parliament), P.J. Mir (Professional Journalist and the Head of the ARYONE World TV), Bashir Ahmed (Advocate and the Joint-Secretary of the Jammu Kashmir High Court Bar Association), Marjan Lucas (Senior Programme Officer on Kashmir on Kashmir at IKV), Ali Raza Syed (President of the Advisory Council to the Kashmir Centre.EU), Prof. Nazir Shawl (Executive Director of Justice Foundation Kashmir Centre), Syed Yousuf Naseem (Convenor of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, AJK & Pakistan Chapter), Mir Tahir Masood (Representative of the Jammu and Kashmir Ittihadul Muslimeen in APHC, AJK & Pakistan Chapter), Masroor Abbas Ansari (President of the Jammu & Kashmir Ittihadul Muslimeen and an Executive Member of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference),  Mariana Baabar (Professional Journalist and the Diplomatic Editor of the Islamabad based newspaper "The News"), Khalid Farooqi (Professional Journalist and the Information Analyst and Consultant for GEO TV), Murtaza Shibli (Professional Journalist and the Editor of the Kashmir Affairs Journal), Ismail Khan (Elected Member of the Board of Director of the Mountain Forum and an Op-ed Columnist/Analyst of the Islamabad-based newspaper "The News"), Sheikh Tajammul Islam (Professional Journalist and the Director General of the Kashmir Media Service), Prof. Noor Ahmed Baba (Head of the Political Science Department at the Kashmir University) together with other European jurists and scholars urged the two governments to uplift the peace process and to involve the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the process.


At the closing plenary, the remarks of IHRAAM's chair Dr. Y.N. Kly were recorded in which he wishes the delegates to note that IHRAAM has a global interest in protecting and promoting the right of people to self-determination as a fundamental human rights foundation on which the charter of the UN also finds its niche.


Dr. G.N. Fai, Executive Director of the Kashmir Centre Washington in his written message. He said that -  "The Kashmir conflict has been won. The question is no longer if Kashmir's right to self-determination will be honored, but when.  It may come five years hence, or it could take ten years of more unwearied resolution.  But it will come.  India will ultimately come to recognize that it has lost the struggle to choke freedom in Kashmir, as Great Britain did in Ireland after more than a century of recurring rebellions and as the United States did in withdrawing from South Vietnam after thrashing the Ho Chi Minh Trail with more bombs than had been dropped in all of World War II." The Convention wishes him well and hoped for his speedy recovery.


Following two days of intensive presentations, discussions and debates that took place over five sessions, the following working paper was adopted at the convention:

"Geneva Convention on Kashmir – Working Paper"



For decades, India-Pakistan relation, in particular regarding the Kashmir Issue, have dominated South Asia's political and economic development, calendar.



Photo: Kashmir Watch

is a regional issue with international implications. Therefore, the initiatives on establishing peace process by the governments of India and Pakistan are underway and the people of Jammu & Kashmir support the process.


There is a need to improve existing condition so that the peace process can eventually address and find a peaceful and acceptable solution to the Kashmir Conflict. However, may questions and pitfalls remain as to how the current initiatives can translate into concrete steps so that a meaningful process to the Kashmir conflict can begin.


Most importantly, the leaders of Pakistan and India have to demonstrate courage and vision to undertake a brave and genuine peace process on Kashmir. Without serious political will, nothing will be achieved. Not least of all, Kashmiris and the international community will need to convince the leadership of India and Pakistan to recognize the need to involve Kashmiris in the peace process and to workout concrete mechanism for Kashmiris participation in the process format. No solution on Kashmir will be durable unless it is legitimate in the eyes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.


The Geneva Convention on Kashmir reiterates the position taken by the ad hoc Delegation on Kashmir of the European Parliament, which is summarized as follows:


"… that there are three parties with a legitimate interest in being involved in finding a solution – the Indian government, the Pakistan government and the Kashmiri people through their representatives, who should be freely chosen, coming from both parts of Kashmir".


It is fundamental to recognize that the Jammu and Kashmir issue should not be viewed as an exclusively bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, the current status quo of the Cease Fire line (CFL) or Line of control (LOC) cannot be maintained indefinitely or its conversion into a permanent border is not acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.




Following the Convention deliberations, the following key proposals are suggested:


Photo: Kashmir Watch

Proposal No. I: It is firmly believed that effective demilitarization will bring a increased sense of security, cessation of all violence and flexibility and tolerance.


With approximately, one soldier to every 10 inhabitants in Jammu & Kashmir (on the Indian side), the huge military presence is never far away. Therefore, it is extremely important that Kashmiris must, once again, feel safe and secure in their own land and homes. For this purpose a methodology needs to be devised by the governments of India and Pakistan to ultimately make the State of Jammu & Kashmir "Military free Zone" area. There are two possible ways to achieve this that are as follows:


·  With regard to Jammu & Kashmir (on the Indian side), where there is an extremely strong military and paramilitary presence, it is vital that those should be withdrawn to barracks from towns, cities and all inhabited and populous areas; and


·  Once ceasefire between the Government of India and the Kashmiri resistance forces is attained, the two governments in consultation with Kashmiri political & resistance leadership must devise a practicable plan to demilitarise the State of Jammu & Kashmir.


In addition, the demilitarization is vital for protection of environmental assets of global significance e.g. glaciers, waterbodies and forests.


Proposal No. II: It is strongly recommended that international organizations such as the European Union, or the United Nations to appeal to the Kashmiri resistant militant groups to declare ceasefire.


"The Geneva Convention on Kashmir" urges resistance groups and all those in a position to do so to establish the circumstances, which would create an environment conclusive to breaking the cycle of violence and human rights abuses. For the peace process to succeed leading to definitive solution of the Kashmir dispute and sustainable peace, what is needed is an atmosphere free of intimidation and terrorism in whatever form.


The unilateral cease fire announced by then Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Zafarullah Khan Jamali on 26 November 2003 has largely held on the Cease fire Line (CFL) or Line of Control (LOC) and has increased a sense of security and safety to all those Kashmiri's living on both sides.


In order to make the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir, violence free it is crucial to convince the Kashmiri resistance groups to hold fire.


Proposal No. III: The effective remedies be made available to protect and promote Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the Geneva Convention.


It is important to consider the prerequisites required to establish a socio-political and economic environment confidence building, reconciliation and goodwill negotiations. In this case, it is suggested that the starting point should substantially increase accountability for human rights abuses, for the provision adequate and effective remedies for victims of human rights violations, which may be as stated below:


·  Victims be assured of the cessation of continuing violations, and there should be public disclosure of the truth behind the violations, accompanied by an official declaration of responsibilities and/ or apologisies, public acknowledgement of violations, as well as judicial and administrative sanctions against the perpetrators.


·  These remedies and reparations include such things as    restitution, rehabilitation, or compensation (this relates to compensating a victim for any pecuniary and non pecuniary assessable damage resulting from a violation, including physical or mental harm, emotional distress, lost educational opportunities, lost marital opportunities, loss of earnings, legal and/or medical costs);


·  Given the large number of Kashmiri's currently in prisons and detention centres, it is crucial that their names be provided to their families, Human Rights organizations, legal aid agencies etc.


Further it is recommended to abrogate all such provisions, which violate international covenants and conventions.


The Geneva Convention on Kashmir strongly urges free access to respected independent NGOs and agencies to monitoring protection of human rights and to counseling for those who have been traumatized by terrorism.


A profound review of the legal framework to ensure that the dispensation of justice is duly provided for (right to a fair trail by an Independent Judicial body).


Proposal no. IV: Provision of enhanced and improved communication and free movement, between the different parts of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.


To reinforce the involvement of Kashmiris and with goodwill on the part of both India and Pakistan, it is essential that communication between two parts of Kashmir should be enhanced and improved. Kashmiris are encouraged with the opening of Chakoti bridge crossing across the CFL or LOC. However, there are considerable administrative bottle necks hindering free movement which need to be addressed.


Trade, Commerce and Tourism be encouraged for the dwindling revitalization of the economy on both sides. Active cooperation on the preservation and good management of Kashmiri's natural resources (water, forests, minerals etc.) would benefit the whole of Jammu & Kashmir.


This will further reinforce the involvement of Kashmiris in controlling their own destiny.


Proposal No. V: Formation of European Kashmir Think Tank Group.


It is indeed, crucial to monitor and assess the "peace process" of Pakistan and India, particularly with reference to the interests of people of Jammu and Kashmir. The Geneva Convention on Kashmir to form a think tank – "Kashmir European Strategic Group (KESG)".


KESG may from time to time, as this matters may progress, engage in providing fresh, new and creative ideas to continuously encourage the two governments (India and Pakistan) and the Kashmir leadership to strike a balance in order to solve the Kashmiri conflict that can lead to establish peace and encourage prosperity in the region. KESG intends to encourage the two governments to remain on the path of dialogue and negotiations. The key proposals set-out in this working paper will further be analysed by KESG with the purpose to strengthening the peace process and addressing the Kashmir conflict.




Photo: Kashmir Watch

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rape of Kashmiri women and the South Asia

Rape of Kashmiri women and the South Asia
Peace processBy Farhat Jabeen

Presently, the situation in Kashmir, according to international organiasations & global media has not changed yet very much. It is still alarming and sparking flames in South Asia, that more then seven hundred thousand Indian army deployed in a small 40 -80 square miles area is the heaviest concentration in human history, and its all without any moral, political and legal code. 92 thousand Kashmiris have been killed by the Indian army in 17 years.

Since January 1989 to April 30, 2007:

Total killing. 91,865

Custodial Killing 6,899

Women gang raped

& Molested 9,708

Civilian arrested 113,798

Structures arsoned /

Destroyed 105,353

Children orphaned 106,930

Women widowed 22,530

The International NGO's Amnesty International, Human rights watch, Asia watch, Red Cross, Medicine sans frontier and others are not allowed to visit Kashmir. Torture is widespread, particularly in the temporary detention centres; methods of torture include electric shock, prolonged beatings and sexual molestation of innocent women.

Kashmir is a disputed territory. Presently, the ceasefire line between the forces of India and Pakistan has divided Kashmir into two parts. One part is under Indian occupation: this comprises 63% of the whole territory and includes the Vale; it has a population 7.5 million. The other part, with approximately 3 million people, includes Azad Kashmir and the Northern region of Gilgit and Baltistan and is administered by Pakistan. About 1.5 million Kashmiris are refugees in Pakistan, some 400,000 live in Britain, and about 250,000 are scattered around the world. The present arbitrary bifurcation of Kashmir has resulted in the division of thousands of Kashmiri families.

Kashmiris living there have no life safety and human honour. Women are degraded and humiliated, almost 10 thousands women are raped; not only adult women but even eight year old girls are victimised.

Since the Indian government crackdown against Kashmiris in the disputed territory of Kashmir began in earnest in January 1990, security forces and Indian army have used rape as a weapon: to punish, intimidate, coerce, humiliate and degrade. Rape by Indian security forces most often occurs during crackdowns, cordon-and-search operations during which men are held for identification in parks or schoolyards while security forces search their homes. In these situations, the security forces frequently engage in collective punishment against the civilian population by assaulting residents and burning their homes. Rape is used as a means of targeting women to punish and humiliate the entire community. Rape has also occurred frequently during reprisal attacks on civilians. In many of these attacks, the selection of victims is seemingly arbitrary and the women, like other civilians assaulted or killed, are targeted simply because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Women who are the victims of rape are often stigmatised, and their testimony and integrity impugned. Social attitudes which cast the woman, and not her attacker, as the guilty party pervade the judiciary, making rape cases difficult to prosecute and leaving women unwilling to press charges.

Government authorities have failed to bring the culprits on record. The normal trend of the Government during these years is to hide the atrocities committed by the Indian armed and paramilitary forces in order to dodge the Amnesty International and the world Human Rights Organization.

Various NGOs and human rights organisations are working for feminism and other civil & social rights, but in my opinion no satisfied work regarding Kashmiri women's safety and modesty. Women and Children are the victim of the worst human rights violations in this area of armed conflicts and ethnic war. It is crystal clear that sexual violence, which was used to subjugate and destroy a people as a form of ethnic cleansing, was an abhorrent and heinous war crime. These persistent and gross abuses, flagrant denials of the human rights of women and their right to life itself, demanded an urgent response from international human rights bodies.

According to data maintained by a media portal of United Kingdom (UK) on reported cases of rape and molestation in which security forces were allegedly involved, nearly 500 women were raped in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir between1990-1994. Media portal maintains that it has compiled the reports from what was reported by state media. The portal maintains that non-governmental organisations (NGO) hardly took interest in documenting the plight of these silent sufferers of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to a 1994 United Nations publication from 1990 to 1996, 882 women were reportedly gang-raped by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. But Social Stigma associated with word "Rape" has made work of human rights and women NGOs cumbersome. They say that women are reluctant to come forward. Extra Judicial killings, rapes, custodial killings, kidnappings, burning of houses by Indian security forces within IHK remain a common practice. The whole IHK has risen against the Indian Army and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act AFSPA and POTA that enables the Indian Army to arrest and kill anyone, anytime, anywhere, in a bid to suppress the ongoing Kashmir liberation movement, the Indian authorities have laid a network of torture cells to practice human rights violations. In these torture cells, the worst repressive means such as electric shocks, ironing of sensitive parts of body, are practised against the innocent Kashmiris without caring for the age and health conditions. Besides, the female folk are also taken to these centres where they are reportedly gang-raped for protesting against the Indian brutalities or filing complaints against terrorising of their near and dear ones. 

This poverty struck women have nothing to feed their children. Their husbands went missing and they could not even wail over their missing husbands.1000 widows, whose husbands have disappeared but not been proven dead. Their children were killed in front of their eyes and yet they are doing rounds of the government offices to prove that their children were killed in cold blood. The dreaded attack by soldiers and an assault on their honour and body remains in the minds of every woman in Kashmir. The young widows and teenaged orphan girls are facing more problems due to their youth as they are always at danger of getting molested or raped. It is matter of concern that most of the married women face the problem of miscarriages, which is one of the fastest growing problem in the rural and border areas of Kashmir.

These happenings are not confined to Muslims. In the last 16 years the women of Kashmir have had to bear male vengeance in silence and they have been unable to find spare to transcend that. Estimates given by various organisations place widowS between 30 000 to 40 000 and Orphans between 50 000 to 80 000.the raped women are doubly victimised and have to live the rest of their carrying to stamp of stigma in silence."

The peace process began three years ago between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, and there has been dozens of talks for 60 years, three wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, thousands of innocent peoples from both sides have been killed. But the end is no where in sight. The United Nations had 6 resolutions passed time to time but justice, and implementation of these resolutions have been delayed.

It is imperative that the United Nations, European Union and Organisation of Islamic Conference and other powers to start the negotiation and mediation with Kashmiri leadership and influential organisations from both sides of Kashmir. Because both countries Pakistan and India have got nuclear capacity because of Kashmir. Political pundits predict cloud of nuclear war is seeing on sky of South Asia clearly. In these difficult circumstances, this dress code edict is simply misplaced, if not a deliberately planted red herring. More pain for the Kashmiri women, thousands of whom have already lost their husbands, sons and loved ones to the bullets and atrocities of the marauding Indian soldiers and many of whom have also fallen victim to sexual defilement.

The European parliament has adopted MEP Emma Nicholson report titled "Kashmir; Present situation and future prospects" on May 25, 2007, by an overwhelming 522 votes in favour to 19 votes against. The report recognised Kashmiris right to self-determination, deploring massive human rights abuses in Jammu & Kashmir, encouraging the Peace process between India and Pakistan and emphasising inclusion of Kashmiris in the Peace process. The Amnesty International released a latest Global report 2007 said in that there is many violence, torture, custodial deaths enforced disappearances and extra-judicial executions continued in Jammu & Kashmir in the year 2006.

Rape in war is not merely a matter of chance nor is it a question of sex. It is rather a question of power and control which is `structured by male soldiers' notions of their masculine privilege. Kashmir is rising flame, which is increasing speedily. If United Nations, European Union and other world wide NGO's do not succeeded in finding an acceptable solution with the participation of kashmiris, it will cause disaster for this part of South Asia. World powers and Global Institutions need to understand this burning issue.

The people of Kashmir demand an end to the military occupation of their land. Because they demand what they have been pledged by both India and Pakistan and guaranteed by the United Nations Security Council with the unequivocal endorsement of the United States, demilitrisation of Kashmir and a free plebiscite vote organised impartially.

Every Kashmiri is waiting anxiously for somebody to help attain freedom for them. I am a women so I understand feelings and emotions, inner voice of every Kashmiri woman.

Farhat Jabeen is Student of PhD

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India legalises State sponsored terror in Kashmir

India legalises State sponsored terror in Kashmir
THE Indian Government has invoked black and draconian laws in held Kashmir to subjugate the people despite its tall but hollow claims of largest democracy. International human rights groups have continued to highlight a very important component of the Kashmir dispute, the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir by Indian security forces, including the use of rape as a weapon of war.


Different types of laws have been put in force while Indian forces and intelligence agencies have been given unlimited powers and impunity to frisk, arrest, torture, detain, kill, rape and molest the Kashmiri men and women. What is shocking and annoying is that nobody is raising voice against the atrocities being perpetrated by the occupation forces. A US State Department Human Rights report published last year said Indian troops continue to use extra judicial killings as a method to suppress the Kashmiris but except that Washington is keeping a deaf ear. Even on Thursday during meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte President Pervez Musharraf emphasized the solution of Kashmir issue and said Pakistan wanted a movement on it but the US official just restricted himself to listening the views of the Pakistani leader. The Kashmir dispute, as recorded in the UN documents involves the principle of right of self-determination and it is recognized that the dispute basically involves three parties — Pakistan, India and the Kashmiris. The excesses being committed against the Kasmiris are aimed at silencing their voice so that there is no third party in the dispute and thus complete the Indian strangulation of Kashmir. The Kashmiri people have sacrificed ninety thousand of their dear ones in addition to several thousand others who have gone missing. They would continue to offer sacrifices till the achievement of their inalienable right of self-determination to ensure a better future for their coming generations.[Editorial note-Pakistan Observer]

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Shawl condemns cold-blooded murder

Shawl condemns cold-blooded murder

London, September 13 (KMS): In London, the Executive Director of Kashmir Centre Professor Nazir Ahmed Shawl has condemned in strong terms the cold-blooded murder of a college student by Indian troops at Handwara in occupied Kashmir.

In a statement, Shawl said that the recent killing of an innocent student Muhammad Ramzan Shah is an eye-opener to the world human rights groups. He said this is not the first case of human rights abuse by Indian army, which he added, has been using Kashmiri youth as human shields since 1989. He said such gross human rights violations would only stop if India demilitarises Jammu and Kashmir immediately. 

Shawl appealed the international community and world human rights organizations to take serious notice of such a gruesome murder. The appalling human rights scenario in occupied Kashmir suggests that India is not interested in a conclusive dialogue. 

The Kashmiri leader stressed that any forward movement on addressing the Kashmir dispute through the means of the ongoing Pak-India dialogue process, could only be made with the inclusion of Kashmiris in the negotiation process. 

Shawl also paid glowing tributes to the martyred student and expressed sympathies with the bereaved family.

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Human rights violation highest in NE, J&K: Dr Sandeep Pandey

Human rights violation highest in NE, J&K: Dr Sandeep Pandey
Luit Neil Don
13 September 2007, Thursday

"The human rights violation in North East and Jammu & Kashmir is worst in the country. These areas have suffered a lot from time immemorial and people of these areas are facing an identity issues. It is a pity that after the 60 years of democracy, Assam cannot become a part of true democratic set-up in the largest democracy in the world," said Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Dr Sandeep Pandey, in Guwahati, on Wednesday.

For his years of dedicated service and leadership Dr Pandey was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2002, often considered the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize. He was selected in the Emergent Leadership Category, and is among five others to have won the coveted award. At 37, he is also the youngest Indian to have been conferred the award.

Dr Pandey, who was in Guwahati, on way to Imphal, the capital of Manipur, to take part at a three-day solidarity fast to support Irom Sharmila's campaign against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur, said: "It is not only the Northeast region but the human rights violations are going on in almost every place of India. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of encounter killings in the country, but there is no draconian law like the AFSPA there. The Government of India is biased against Northeast and J&K in this issue."

Talking about the separatist movement in the northeastern region, Dr Pandey said: "Continuous presence of military in this region will have a severe impact on the people. If this process goes on, the Northeast will soon become militarized state. Whatever form of Naxalism, separatism and terrorism exists, the only way to solve is by political solution."

When asked about the armed conflict in Northeast, he said: "It is up to the people of the region to find out an amicable solution. What the local people want, should be respected. The Government will facilitate talks. I think dialogue is the only way to solve the insurgency. Militarisation will never solve the issue."

Coming down heavily against the uranium mining in Meghalaya, Dr Pandey said: "Uranium is radioactive and creates health hazards. Till now world has not find out any solution to the radioactive effects. At a time when many countries have given up the nuclear programmes, it is really shocking to see the Indian Government is planning uranium mining in Meghalaya."

Mentionably, hundreds of human rights activists from all over the country as well as from neighbouring Asian nations will assemble in Imphal today (13 September).

 Sharmila had gone on hunger strike on November 2, 2000 demanding the repeal of the AFSPA, after soldiers of the Assam Rifles allegedly killed ten young Meitei men in Malom. Three days later, police arrested Sharmila on charges of 'attempted suicide', because suicide or attempted suicide is a criminal offence under Indian law. She was later remanded to judicial custody. To keep her alive, she was forcefully fed a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, laxatives, protein supplements and lentil soup through the nose with a rubber pipe.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Human Rights abuse: From Punjab to Kashmir

Human Rights abuse: From Punjab to Kashmir

From Nagaland to Punjab and from Andhra Pradesh to Kashmir, from the early 1950s to the year 2003, spanning almost the entire time and space comprising independent India, there have been reports of the security forces, including the army, forcing local people to act as shields and to actively participate in anti-terrorist operations. These reports have been consistently denied by the authorities who have routinely give out other reasons, such as 'caught in the cross-fire', 'aiding/ abetting terrorists', etc, to explain away civilian casualties. This is an account of two such cases, one from Kashmir and the other from Punjab. In both cases, the army and the Punjab police, respectively, categorically denied the allegation against them, claiming that the villagers were killed in the cross-fire between the terrorists and the security forces. Since neither incident was the object of an authoritative fact finding, the truth will never be known. However, the following accounts give us a glimpse of the truth. Both accounts are based upon the eyewitness testimony of those who survived the operation itself, being similarly press-ganged into service by the troops involved and/ or surviving family members and villagers who witnessed the entire operation.


(Report by Ashok Agarwal, advocate and human rights activist)

On the 5th of March 2003 there was an encounter at village Kaw-chak, PS, Kreeri, Tehsil Pattan, District Baramulla, J&K. Three militants were stated to have been killed. Some soldiers are also said to have lost their lives. In addition, two villagers were killed and several wounded. The Army/ RR claimed that these "civilian casualties happened in the "cross-fire" between them and the terrorists.

The encounter started early in the morning of the 5th. Villagers were pressed into servicing the Army's needs from the inception. Teams of soldiers also scoured the surrounding area for more "volunteers". At about 10 a.m three army vehicles (trucks) came from the direction of Kreeri. Ashiq Hussain Malik was sitting in his shop, by the side of the road. Mohamad Arif Mir s/o Abdul Gafar Mir and his brother Ghulam Mohamad Mir residents of Dolipora were walking on the road from Dolipura, towards Kreeri. Ghulam Mohiuddin, who had just returned from Pattan where he had spent the night, had stopped near a house opposite the shops by the road on hearing about the crackdown/ encounter in his village. The trucks stopped near the shops. Two officers, one in sunglasses and another, jumped out of the vehicles. The officer in sunglasses grabbed Ghulam Mohiuddin from behind and dragged him towards the vehicles. They ordered Ashiq Hussain Malik to close his shop and come with them. The Mir brothers, who had by then reached where the army vehicles were parked, were ordered to get into the army vehicles. However, Ghulam Mohamad Mir, a government employee, was let off when he pleaded that he had to report for duty.

Inside the truck there were four other people, residents of village Watargam, who had similarly been picked up by the Army. They were all brought to the site of the encounter, in village Kaw-chak, in the truck.

At the encounter site they were pulled out, ordered to remove their upper garments and their backs were marked with a rubber stamp, presumably in order to fix their identity. They were divided into pairs. Each pair was given some explosives – that looked like a car battery in shape and weighed about 15 – 20 kilos – and were ordered to carry these into the house in which the militants were holed up and to place the devices against the walls inside the ground floor of the building. The militants were on the upper floors.

On showing hesitation to do the army's bidding all the villagers were beaten and threatened with death. Each explosive devise (called a "mine") was picked up by two persons and carried inside the house. Meanwhile the exchange of fire with the militants was going on. The militants were also calling out to the villagers, warning them not to cooperate with the army. Frightened by the firing and the shouts of the militants the villagers were placing the mines against the outside wall of the house. After some mines were in place they were made to carry large stones and pile them against the mines so as to cover them. Eight villagers were doing this work, which went on till two pm.

Around 2 pm, as they were coming out of the house after placing some stones, Ghulam Mohiuddin and Arif were injured. Ghulam Mohiuddin received three bullets in his left arm. Arif was hit by two bullets in his right upper arm, near the shoulder. Both fell down, unconscious. The others dragged them to safety. They were then taken in a matador that had been commandeered by the army and brought to the Bone and Joints Hospital, Barzalla, Srinagar. Ghulam Mohiuddin stayed in the hospital for 15 days. The bones in his arm having been shattered, after two surgeries the doctors told him that he would require at least one more, with no guarantee that he will recover the use of his arm.

Several villagers who houses are close to the site of the encounter had fled to another part of the village (called Harnau) to escape being forced into military service. Sometime that afternoon, some army jawans came to this part and selected four people. These were: Abdul Rashid, aged 42, Ghulam Mohd. Mir, aged 40, Abdul Hamid Bhat, aged 25 and Bashiruddin aged 30.

At the encounter site three of them were taken towards an army truck loaded with boxes. Each of them was given four bottles filled with petrol with cotton wicks stuffed in the neck (Molotov cocktails) and made to sit behind the house of one Mohd. Akbar Bhat, opposite the house of Ali Mohd. Bhat where the militants were holed up.

Ashiq Hussain Malik was sitting already present behind Mohd. Akbar's house when they reached there. The soldiers were very angry with Ashiq Hussain as they felt that he had spoilt/ damaged one of mines entrusted to him. They claimed that but for this they would have destroyed the house and killed the militants holed up inside, much earlier. Due to this delay, they claimed, one of their comrades had died. They were threatening him with dire consequences while Ashiq was repeatedly pleading his innocence.

The soldiers took the Molotov cocktails from the villagers and carried them inside Mohd. Akbar's house. The officer with sunglasses (called 'captain' by the villagers), asked for more Molotov cocktails. Two of the villagers, Bashiruddin and Abdul Hamid Bhat, were ordered to get some more from the truck. When they returned, Ashiq and Abdul Rashid were not present at the back of the house. They were made to sit down again. No talking was permitted between the villagers but Bashiruddin and Abdul Bhat heard the soldiers shouting – 'Bhaag gaye saale' accompanied by heavy firing. They kept sitting there, thinking the soldiers were referring to the militants.

Shortly thereafter, there was a call– 'Aur civilians ko bhej do'. Bashiruddin and Abdul Bhat were sent inside the house. They were forced to remove their upper garments and their backs were marked with a stamp. Bashiruddin was handed a mine and Abdul Hamid was made to pick up a couple of stones. We were pointed out the spot, near a window, where we were to place the mine. Immediately after they returned the mine they had placed blew up and the house in which the militants had holed up, collapsed.

Thereafter, the villagers were ordered to go and pull out the bodies of the militants from the rubble. Initially, they could not find any bodies. The soldiers then ordered them to blow up a cattle shed adjoining the collapsed house. Just after that they heard a cry for help from the rubble. On the soldiers' orders the villagers placed an explosive device with wires near that spot, which was then exploded. The cries for help persisted.

Some other villagers were brought to the site all were put to the task of removing the rubble. The newcomers were: Maksood Ahmed Din, Bashiruddin's brother, Ali Mohd. Bhat and his younger brother, Abdul Hamid Bhat and Ghulam Nabi Waza. The rubble was very hot. Fires were burning in some places. Their hands and feet were singed by the burning heat. Finally, they pulled out the militant who had been calling out for help. He was still alive. He was asking for water. The officer with sunglasses refused saying— 'we gave him so many opportunities to surrender'.

The officer and his men interrogated the captured militant. His name was Shabir. He was from Kachua Mukam (Kandi area), Tehsil and district Baramulla. Then they took him away somewhere. The villagers were ordered to continue their search beneath the rubble. They found two fully clothed bodies. At first they did not recognize them and thought they were dead militants. The soldiers asked them to search their pockets. From one pocket they recovered a purse and from the other a bunch of keys and an identity card. On seeing the identity card they realized that the bodies were of two villagers, both of whom had been pressed into service by the Army. The man with the purse was Abdul Rashid Mir, a teacher by profession and the man with the keys and the identity card was Ashiq Hussain Malik. The keys were to his shop. Half of Abdul Rashid's face had been torn apart by a burst of bullets. Ashiq had a similar burst of bullets on his back around the waist.

The villagers were ordered by the officers to keep quiet about the fact that two civilians, villagers, had been killed in the encounter and made to continue the task of removing/ searching through the rubble. The rubble was very hot – their hands and feet were getting blistered and burnt. However, the officers refused to allow us to pour water on the rubble to cool it.

Around sunset the Army/RR commandeered some more villagers. They were asked to pick up the bodies. Eight villagers picked up the two bodies and carried them to the army vehicle by the road. Then they were asked to bring a third body. This turned out to be of the militant whom they had pulled out of the rubble, alive.

After this, they requested an officer – addressed as 'CO. Saab' – that they be allowed to go as they were exhausted. Four of them were allowed to go. They were: Bashiruddin, Ghulam Mohd. Mir, Ishtiaq Ahmed Ganai and Abdul Hamid Bhat. Others continued to work at the Army's orders, searching the rubble. Bashiruddin's brother, Maksood was one of them. Maksood and about 30 other villagers were forced to continue removing rubble till 11 AM the next morning. Most of them were from village Dolipura. About eight or ten people were from village Kaw-chak.

These people recovered one body around 9 pm on the …... It was fully burnt. Another body was recovered around 10 AM the next day. They also recovered two guns and empty magazines. Around 11 AM a procession of protestors from Dolipura arrived at the site. The Army fired in the air to disperse them. Frightened by the firing the protesters ran helter skelter. Shortly thereafter, thinking the situation might deteriorate, the Army ran away.

The bodies taken by the Army to Hambray. Ashiq Hussain's brother, Tariq Ahmed, who had reached the site in search of his brother, was also forced by the Army to clear the rubble of the demolished house. Even though by that time his body was already in Army custody, they told Tariq that Ashiq's body was lying beneath the rubble. The bodies were handed over to the police at P.S. Kreeri. Ashiq's parents were away on the Haj pilgrimage when he was killed. Minister Ghulam Hasan Mir, Minister Sharifuddin Niazi and a Corp Commander (a Sikh) from the army came for Taziat (the shared mourning after a death). One of the officers wounded in this encounter, a Major, also came. The Corp Commander expressed regrets for the civilian deaths. 'However', he said, 'the casualties cannot be helped as we cannot do our job effectively without civilian help'.

The Ministers promised to take up the issue of the Army using civilians in this manner. They also promised relief to those killed and injured. The Major expressed regrets and said that had he not been injured, he would not have allowed this mishap to occur.

Both families lodged a report with the police but till the time of this investigation, about a month and a half later, they had not been given a copy of the FIR.

The visiting Ministers had ordered that inquiry into the incident and directed that it should be completed within 15 days. They also ordered payment of ex gratia compensation and compassionate appointment to next of kin under SRO 43. According to Ashiq Hussain's family they had been paid an ex gratia of Rs. 1 lakh but the compassionate appointment had not yet been given.

The Inquiry against the Army had made no progress. The families of those killed were afraid to press for the inquiry though they wish that justice is done with the guilty officers being identified and punished. The villagers asked the CO of the unit concerned, who had come to condole, to produce the guilty officer. He merely echoed the Corp Commander and said 'We need the civilians. What happened will happen again. This cannot be helped'.

Publicly, the Army took the stand that the two villagers, Ashiq Hussain and Abdul Rashid Mir were killed in 'cross-firing' during the encounter. However, the truth of the matter was reported extensively by the press who visited the village on the very next day, the 6th of March 2003.

On being asked whether their were any circumstances in which they would willingly provide assistance (of the non-dangerous kind) to the security forces in their battle against the terrorists/ militants the response of the villagers was a uniform and vehement no. The villagers also informed the investigation team that some days later, even as the ministers were promising that they would ensure that such incidents are not repeated, the Army conducted a similar operation at Tilgram, using the local villagers as human shields and for menial tasks that thrust them into the midst of the firefight and put their lives at extreme risk. However, fortunately no civilians were killed in that operation. There was only one militant involved in that encounter.



Report by Ram Narayan Kumar and Amrik Singh, human rights activists[1]

Police version

Based upon the affidavit filed before the NHRC by Ashok Bath, Superintendent of Police (Detective), Tarn Taran.

On 8.6.92 the police received information that Surjit Singh Behla s/o Tarlok Singh Jat, r/o Behla and Madan Singh @ Maddi @ Sukhdev Singh @ Chota Behla s/o Santokh Singh r/o Behla, self-styled Deputy Chief and Lieutenant General of Bhindranwala Tiger Force of Khalistan (BTFK), a sikh militant outfit was holding a meeting with other terrorists and planning to commit a major terrorist crime. A police party with officers of 91/Bn and 102 Bn CRPF cordoned the village Behla. When the police were searching the first floor of the house of Manjinder Singh Behla the terrorists, who were hiding inside the house, opened fire and killed HC Jarnail Singh and LC Harjit Singh 4160/TT. Constables Pargat Singh & Som Datt and L/K (?) Kalash Chander were injured. The terrorists "cordoned" (?) the police party who had gone inside the house to conduct their search. The army was deployed to tighten security arrangements for the night. The next morning the police officers who were trapped inside the house were freed with the army's help. The cross-firing continued till the next day. Two jawans of the Punjab Police were killed and one constable and 3 jawans of the CRPF were injured in the encounter. After the firing ceased, the police recovered 9 bullet ridden, dead bodies of terrorists. Four of the bodies were identified on the spot and the remaining five bodies were identified later on.

(Note: The affidavit provides the identities of only 8 of the 9 bodies: Harbans Singh, Ajit Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Paramjit Singh @ Shingara Singh, Sakkattar Singh @ Mangga Singh, Naranjan Singh, Madan Singh @ Maddi @ Sukhdev Singh @ Chota Behla, and Jagtar Singh @ Varpal. A large quantity of arms and ammunition was recovered from the site (house) of the encounter.

The investigation by the CCDP

Based upon interviews conducted with the families of the deceased and other eyewitnesses.

Nine persons were killed at village Behla in the course of an encounter on 8-10 June 1992. Out of these nine, three were militants and six were villagers unconnected with the militancy who the security forces used as human shields to storm the house in which the three militants were hiding. The body of one person killed in the encounter remains unaccounted for. The CCDP's (Committee for Coordination on Disappearances in Punjab) investigation took it to the homes/ families of 8 of these 9 persons and other eye-witnesses in the village.

On 8 June 1992 morning, a large mixed force, comprised of the Punjab police led by SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu and Khubi Ram, SP (Operations), and units of the army and paramilitary, surrounded the old and abandoned house of Manjinder Singh, a former member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, in village Behla. Apparently, the house was being used as a hideout by militants associated with Surjit Singh, s/o Tarlok Singh from Behla village. One of his associates, 18 year old Sukhdev Singh, alias Maddi, son of Santokh Singh, was also from Behla. After completing his matriculation, he had started working in a Sugar Mill at Sheron. The police often illegally detained and tortured his elder brother Kulbir Singh for information because of their suspicions of his having militant connections. Sukhdev Singh was unable to tolerate this injustice done to his brother and decided to become a militant himself. Later on, his father Santokh Singh was abducted and disappeared by the police. The third associate of Surjit Singh Behla was Harbans Singh, s/o Mehr Singh from Sarhalli in Tarn Taran subdivision of Amritsar district.

Before storming the house, the police officers decided to round up seven or eight villagers to walk in front of the police force and to act as human shields. The following are the names of the six of those who got killed in the course of the operation that followed: [1] Kartar Singh, s/o Aasa Singh, [2] Niranjan Singh, s/o Boor Singh, [3] Sakatter Singh, s/o Niranjan Singh, [4] Lakhwinder Singh, s/o Channan Singh, [5] Gurmej Singh and [6] Ajit Singh, s/o Mangal Singh.

The police randomly selected these people, and this had nothing to do with suspicions of their possible involvement in the militancy. For example:

Ajit Singh, from Behla village in Tarn Taran, was a 60 year old man married to Preetam Kaur with seven children. He owned a horse driven cart and was employed by a brick kiln owner to transport bricks to his clients.He had no political or militant association, no criminal background and no enmity with anyone in his village.

Ajit Singh had that morning carried a cartload of bricks to the house of Niranjan Singh when the police came and forced him along with Niranjan Singh and his sons to be part of the front column.

Niranjan Singh, a 55 year old farmer, was married to Balwinder Kaur and had three sons and a daughter. He was a devout Sikh unconnected with any political or militant organization and took care of his family by cultivating three acres of land and selling milk from his buffalos.

Twenty-five year old Sakatter Singh was Niranjan Singh's son. He used to help his father with the agricultural work and was married to Sharanjit Kaur with two daughters who are now barely teenagers. He had never been arrested before and had no political or militant connections.

Sakatter Singh died in the police operation. His younger brother Sukhchain Singh, also included in the front column, managed to escape after getting seriously wounded.

Twenty year old Lakhwinder Singh, the youngest son of Channan Singh and Gurmej Kaur, had no political or militant associations or record. He was watering his fields when the forces picked him up and compelled him to walk in front of them as a human shield.

Kartar Singh, a 62 year old farmer, was married to Iqbal Kaur with four adult children. He also had no record of a political or criminal past.

After entering the house, the security forces discovered that it had a basement but no door to enter it from inside. They started demolishing the floor that was also the celler's roof. When the militants holed up inside opened fire, the police pushed these six villagers to the front, and using them for cover, fired back. All of the six persons who have been named died in this situation. Two others got seriously injured. The encounter lasted around 30 hours.

Three militants, holed up in the cellar who also got killed, are: [1] Surjit Singh Behla, s/o Tarlok Singh, [2] Sukhdev Singh Maddi, s/o Santokh Singh. Both were from Behla village. [3] Harbans Singh, the third militant killed in the action, was a resident of Sarhalli Kalan .

In the evening of 9th June, the police extricated the bodies of all the people who had been killed in the action without bothering to distinguish the militants from the others who the police had used as human shields.The next morning, the police told the press that they had killed nine militants in the action. In the aftermath, several newspapers published stories questioning the police claims and explaining how the six unconnected villagers had been pushed into the jaws of death. Two others, wounded in the course of the operation, had been abandoned by the police to their own resources to obtain medical help. Embarrassed by the publicity, the Punjab government later announced an inquiry, which was, however, never carried out.

The police cremated all the bodies at Tarn Taran on 9 June 1992, labeling them as "unidentified/ unclaimed", though the family of Ajit Singh attended the cremation. Other families were not allowed to attend.

Subsequently, in 1995-96, on orders from the Supreme Court the CBI carried out an investigation into the illegal cremation of thousands of bodies by the Punjab police between 1984 and 1994. Its December 1996 report to the Court divided the 2097 such cremations by the police in three cremation grounds in Amritsar district of Punjab into three categories: "identified", "partially identified", and "unidentified". The CBI's placed the cremations of Ajit Singh, Lakhwinder Singh and Harbans Singh, a militant and an associate of Surjit Singh Behla, in the "identified" list. Five others, [1] Surjit Singh, r/o Behala, [2] Sikkatar Singh, r/o Behala, [3] Niranjan Singh, r/o Behala, [4] Madan Singh, alias Maddi, [5] Kartar Singh, r/o Behala, were placed in the "partially identified" list. According to the CBI, SHO Gurbachan Singh of Tarn Taran city police station carried out these cremations in the same case of encounter under FIR No. 57/92. Out of these, Surjit Singh and Madan Singh, alias Maddi, (who must be Sukhdev Singh Maddi) were the militants. The other three, Sikkatar Singh, Niranjan Singh and Kartar Singh had been picked up to serve as human shields.[2]

These cremations from the identified and partially identified lists of the CBI do not account for the body of Gurmej Singh, one of the six villagers forced to become a human shield and killed. The CBI's list of unidentified cremations does not show any cremation on 9 June 1992.

End Notes

[1] Reported in Reduced to Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab pp 293 & 496, Pub. South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Kathmandu, May 2003

[2] Curiously, the CBI duplicated the record of Niranjan Singh's cremation under Sl. No. 121/392 of its "identified" list. Here, it recorded Niranjan Singh's cremation as having occurred on 18 April 1991,over a year earlier than its actual date. Further, the information to identify all was not only available to the police but had also been published in newspaper reports. Hence, it is not clear why the CBI decided to place some of them in the list of partially identified bodies.


[Source: Kashmir Times]




Since  1988, the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir has been hit by confrontation between armed Kashmiri Guerrillas  and the Armed Forces of India, which has resulted in more than One hundred  thousand of deaths.


Armed Forces  Special Powers Act contains no guidelines for ensuring effective control of the armed forces by the civil authorities. Under the act the Indian armed forces have the power to shoot, arrest, search, seize and even kill when they deem it necessary.


International human rights groups have called for an end to "fake encounters" in Kashmir.


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