Human rights report names names in Kashmir, invokes international law
The report analyzes 214 cases and for the first time names 500 specific perpetrators working for India of crimes including enforced disappearance, killings, rape, and torture.
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Based on the information gleaned mostly from official state documents, the authors of the report insist that crimes “have not been committed, despite the Indian state, but because of it” accusing the government of “willfully putting in place structures specifically meant to carry out these crimes.”Skip to next paragraph
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“We call for international humanitarian intervention when the Indian state has failed to deliver justice and instead works its institutions for crimes with impunity in Kashmir,” says Pervez Imroz, a prominent human rights lawyer and another author of the report.
Government officials said they were studying the report. “We will have first to go through the contents of the report and then we will respond,” the region’s law minister, Ali Mohammed Sagar told the Associated Press Thursday.
The report comes at a time when militant violence in the region has significantly dropped. However, India maintains a presence of an estimated 700,000 soldiers stationed in camps dotting its held territory and along the de facto border with Pakistan dividing the former kingdom between the nuclear armed South Asian neighbors.
International rights bodies like Amnesty International have long maintained that Indian forces have routinely operated with impunity in the region calling for impartial investigations into numerous violations blamed on them in the past. (Read more on the issue)
“The defining feature of human rights violations here is that in the name of countering militant violence the Indian State authorizes armed forces to carry out every kind of operation, often without adherence to laws and norms,” the report says. “In a majority of cases crimes are not noted or investigated at all.”
India has often responded to allegations of widespread human rights violations against its forces as “aberrations” saying a handful of military personnel have been punished after military trials found them guilty.
However, Thursday’s report alleges that perpetrators of crimes are “assisted by a system where impunity is available right from the commission of the crime to the ultimate cover up.” Its authors indict the Indian judiciary for “lowering the standards of justice delivery system” to ensure impunity and by highlighting the fact that India has not legislated for crimes of torture and enforced disappearance.
“Even if the state wanted to prosecute the guilty, what will it prosecute them for in absence of the required legislation?” Murukutla asked pressing for the need to invoke international law.
The report recommends, among other things, that international rights bodies such as those of the United Nations be allowed free access to Kashmir to investigate specific allegations under the international human rights laws.
New Delhi has consistently declined requests for international intervention in Kashmir even in matters like forensic investigations into more than 6,000 unmarked and mass graves in the region that are suspected to be linked to the thousands of cases of enforced disappearances. However, the government has also said that it does not possess the capacity for such wide scale investigations itself.
Earlier this year, the Indian government allowed, for the first time, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heyns, to visit the region. However, the groups say the visit was a “regulated one, being confined by the authorities.”