The Chronicles of Endless Pain
The shattering after shocks generated by September Eleven have been fortuitous for India in subverting the internationally sanctioned cause of self determination for Kashmiris into a terrorist movement. Claiming a parallel with the US’ right to retaliate , the Indians , ever since the waning days of 2001 , have sought to make most of the windfall spawned by the US led war on terror; building their case on the dubious occurrence of December 13 attack on the Indian Parliament. The repression by Indian occupational forces, duly sanctioned by the tacit silence of the US and other global powers , has been ruthless and the civil society of Kashmir has suffered in much silence but as the developments have shown, a quiet revolution is afoot in the bleeding Kashmir Valley. A visible and monumental shift in the nature of struggle for freedom has taken place. The trail blazing transformation is manifest through the emergence of grass root passive resistance reflected by the stone throwing Kashmiri youth and efforts by the civil society to document and articulately expose the massive and pervasive human rights violations by the Indian occupational forces.
The recent emergence of the report “Atrocity and Suffering” surveyed for and compiled by the Citizens’ Council for Justice (CCJ), covering the human rights abuses by the Indian occupational forces in fifty villages of Baramula and Kupwara districts of the Indian Held Kashmir is an apt emblem reflecting this sea change . The compilation comes in the wake of another incisive and moving report; “Facts under Ground : A Fact Finding Mission on Nameless Graves and Mass Graves in Uri Area” compiled in 2008 by association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). For the first time in the history of Kashmir’s freedom movement it came to the fore that civilian activists had located the sites of mass graves of at least 940 persons who had been unlawfully killed and whose bodies had ended up in the soggy unmarked graves in 18 villages of the Uri District alone. The findings of these two reports soundly complement one another in projecting the chilling design by which Indian Forces kill innocent Kashmiris at random; dumping them in nameless mass graves by projecting them as those of foreign intruders. This is picked up as the lading salvo by the political and military leadership to claim that those killed were the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) terrorists instigating terrorist violence in Kashmir; cementing the Indian stance that Pakistan’s support for the Kashmiri armed freedom movement was illegitimate.
The CCJ Report is a comprehensive and painstakingly compiled data baring grave human rights violations over a sample of fifty IHK villages. Even as its canvas is small yet it provides a useful model for understanding the overall environment of terror and persecution that engulfs the incomparable scenic landscape of IHK. According to the Report, a total of 437 people were killed in these villages of whom 192 (44%) were civilian; 320 (73%) people were killed by the occupational forces and auxiliaries (Army, CRPF, BSF, Police and government sponsored militants) of which Army’s share turns out to be 75%; 65 people disappeared from these villages with Indian Army ticked as the leading culprit; 2048 people out of a an adult male population of approximately 67000 (31%) were severely tortured; 57 armed forces camps were identified where the torture was executed, 7000 persons were subjected to forced labour; civilian population was extensively used as human shield in mine breaching operations as well as in closing up with the militant holdouts; there were 40 custodial killings of which 20 (50%) were perpetrated by the Indian Army. The CCJ was able to record six cases of rape and molestation in the fifty villages yet feared that the phenomenon was much widely spread and the lower number of reporting was due to social stigma involved as well as non availability of female researchers.
The meticulously researched and compiled CCJ Report when read along with findings of the “Facts Under Ground” provides an authentic and perceptive enunciation of the brutalized state of civilian population in the IHK. What emerges is an over-saturated militarized landscape bristling with occupational forces’ camps precluding the possibility of a normal peaceful life. The statistics reflect a run-amok trigger happy Indian Army, which under the umbrella of Draconian Laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act is inflicting an unbridled pain on the civilian population through killings, enforced disappearances, custodial killings, fake encounters , incidents of rape , forced labor, and employment as human shields. Collectively the reports indicate large scale unlawful killings , silently disposed off in numerous mass graves which are dotting the Kashmiri landscape particularly close to the Line of Control villages. It is also manifest that the Indian occupational forces are using the ploy of presence of foreign militants as a way of covering up large scale custodial killings and furthering individual and unit / formations reputations based on fake encounters.
The emergence of such authentic data reflecting excruciating pain of the civil society in IHK, chafing under weight of the human rights violations by the occupational forces has moved nothing in India which has learnt to take such ripples in her unbroken stride. The occasional outburst from the Amnesty International does provide a momentary focus on IHK’s misery but Indian intransigence is akin to the inertia of glaciers. Recently Amnesty released a briefing; “ Still a Lawless Law” asserting that the IHK was still clinging on to the Draconian Public Safety Act (PSA), brazenly trampling over a range of human rights violations despite earlier ticking-off by the human rights organization. Pointing to the unjustness of the PSA which permits the Police to arrest any suspect and keep him/her in jail for two years without trial , Amnesty called upon India to repeal it.
The indication of mass graves in IHK, by Kashmiri activists is a crucial matter on which India has maintained an imperturbable silence. These sites are the end repositories of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other human rights abuses. There presence is indicative of grave violation of canons of international human rights laws of which India is a signatory. As a civilized nation and the largest democracy in the world it is incumbent upon India to have impartial investigations into all reported and as yet unreported mass grave sites; in line with the UN Model Protocol by duly incorporating neutral experts. Such a step will not only pacify the anguish of thousands of parents of disappeared persons but will also help India convincingly prove her point that those buried in these graves are in effect LeT, JeM terrorists from across the border!