USA Condemns India over Kashmir

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COUNTRY REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS, PRACTICES FOR 1995 : INDIA

FOCUS ON KASHMIR - 14 MARCH 1996

Once again the United States Department of the State has reproached India on its human rights record. According to the 1995 Country Reports on Human Rights, India continues to be highlighted for its dismal human rights record.

The report cites the Indian Government for violations of principles of human decency and democratic freedom against the people of Occupied Kashmir. The report finds India responsible for torture, kidnapping, extrajudicial killing, rape and use of excessive forces against the Kashmiri people. The State Department once again noted that Indian paramilitary forces have committed significant human rights abuses, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Report noted the Indian Government's responsibility in disrupting the judicial system in Occupied Kashmir. It said that one reason for the disruption was the judicial tolerance of the Government's heavy handed anti-militant tactics. The Report found India guilty of arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention in Occupied Kashmir.

1. RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY OF PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM FROM POLITICAL AND OTHER EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING.

The report noted that political killings by the Indian government forces continued at a high rate in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Besides this the Indian Government continued at a high its practices of extrajudicial killings. The Report said that human rights organisations find that dozens of such killings occur every month.

The State Department noted that typically those killed by such extrajudicial means were detained by security forces, and their bodies, bearing multiple bullet wounds and often marks of torture were returned to relatives or were otherwise discovered the same day or a few days later.

The Report said that the total number of deaths in Kashmir remained very close to 1994's toll.

2. RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY OF PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM FROM DISAPPEARANCE

The Report noted that incommunicado detention of suspected militants continued in Kashmir. It said that the Government of India had admitted that it held 3,023 persons in five detention centers in Jammu and Kashmir. Of these 1,331 were held under the [Indian] Public Safety Act and 1,692 under the [Indian] Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act.

The Report says that several thousand others are held in short-term confinement in transit and interrogation centers. Human Rights group maintain that as many as 3,000 more are held in long term unacknowledged detention.

3. RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY OF PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM FROM TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT.

The Report cites Indian police and paramilitary forces for using torture during interrogation in Occupied Kashmir. The Report noted that these practices include beating , rape, burning with cigarettes and hot rods, suspension by the feet, crushing of limbs by heavy rollers, and electric shocks. It was noted that because many torture victims die in custody, and others are afraid to speak out, there are few first-hand accounts, although the marks of torture have been found on bodies of deceased detains. The Report adds that the rape of persons in custody is part of the broader pattern of custodial abuse.

4. RESPECT OF THE INTEGRITY OF PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM FROM ARBITRARY ARREST, DETENTION, OR EXILE.

The Report says that Indian laws allow the government to detain a person without charge or trail for as long as one year or loosely defined security grounds. It noted that over half of the detainees in Occupied Kashmir are held under the Indian- enforced Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act of 1978.

The Report found that Indian court system is overloaded.

5. RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY OF PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM FROM ARBITRARY INTERFERENCE WITH PRIVACY, HOME, OR CORRESPONDENCE.

The Report says that the Indian Government has allowed its occupation authorities in Kashmir special powers to search and arrest without warrant.

6. RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY OF PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM FROM USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE AND VIOLATIONS OF HUMANITARIAN LAW IN INTERNAL CONFLICTS

The Report says that the Indian Government forces continue to commit serious violations of humanitarian laws in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Between 350,000 to 400,000 Indian army and paramilitary forces are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. The Report notes that under Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, both passed in July 1990, security forces personnel have extraordinary powers, including authority to shoot suspected lawbreakers and those disturbing peace, and to destroy structures suspected of harbouring militants arms.

7. RESPECT FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, INCLUDING FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS

The Report notes that 1971 Newspapers Incitement to Offenses Act that remains in effect in Jammu and Kashmir allows even a district magistrate to prohibit the press from carrying material that may result in incitement to murder or any act of violence.

8. RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY OF PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION.

The Report notes that Srinagar and other parts of Jammu and Kashmir were under sporadic curfew during much of 1995.

9. RESPECT FOR POLITICAL RIGHTS: THE RIGHT OF CITIZENS TO CHANGE THEIR GOVERNMENT

The report notes that India having failed in its attempt to stage an election and admitted that conditions in the state were not suitable for holding elections continued with its President's Rule in Occupied Kashmir which was extended to December 1995.

10. GOVERNMENTAL ATTITUDE REGARDING INTERNATIONAL AND NON-GOVERNMENTAL INVESTIGATION OF ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS

The Report said that the Government of India had refused visas to representatives of some human rights organizations, including Amnesty International.

IN CONCLUSION,

the report, which reaffirmed that Kashmir is a disputed territory, provides substantial information that the Disturbed Areas Act, President's Rule, the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act have had devastating effect on the Kashmiri people. Human rights will continue to be violated as long as curfews are imposed, political and civilian killings continue unabated, torture and rape are widespread, civil liberties are suspended and international human rights group are prohibited from gaining access to Occupied Kashmir. Violations will continue as long as the government of India continues to condone the atrocities committed by its government forces.

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