“Any resolution to the political situation in Kashmir should entail a commitment to ending the cycles of violence and accountability for past and current human rights violations and abuses committed by all parties and redress for victims. Such a resolution can only be brought about by meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir,” reads the newly released report by the UN Human Rights Office. This is the first ever report by the UN on the human rights situation in Kashmir that calls for an international inquiry into multiple violations.
The report talks about the excessive use of force by the Indian government and accuses of “failing to adhere to applicable national and international standards on the use of force”.
While the Indian government has dubbed the report as “malicious and motivated”, Kashmiri human rights lawyer and convener of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCSS) Parvez Imroz called it a “moral boost to Kashmir as the people of Kashmir feel vindicated”.
Speaking to Newsclick, Imroz said, “We have been feeding the UN regarding the situation in the valley – regarding the ongoing disappearances, use of pellet guns and the torture. Despite the constant threats, the volunteers who worked with us and our members have always highlighted certain issues of human rights violation. We personally feel vindicated.”
JKCSS, in its statement, emphasised the need to constitute Commission of Inquiry. “The CoI be instituted to record the violence, document the role of state Institutions including judiciary and ascertain State and individual responsibility as per International human rights, international criminal and international humanitarian law,” the statement reads.
Uprising of 2016 and alleged human rights violation
The report has mainly focussed on the human rights scenario in Kashmir from July 2016 – after the killing of Hizb ul Mujahidin commander Burhan Wani – to April 2018. The killing of Wani had triggered large-scale demonstrations across the valley.
The report mentions that the killing of Hizbul commander “triggered protests on a very large and unprecedented scale throughout the Kashmir Valley and in districts of Jammu. Indian security forces responded to protests with force, which led to casualties and a wide range of alleged related human rights violations throughout the summer of 2016 and into 2018.”
AFSPA and the use of pellet guns
The UN report says that Armed Force Special Power Act (AFSPA) “contributes to a climate of impunity and deprives people of remedies”. It has also recommended that the AFSPA be “abolished and that it be left to the courts to decide whether proceedings are vexatious or abusive.”
Contrary to the CRPF claims that the pellet-firing is the “least lethal” option to disperse the protesting crowd, the report has stated that “pellet shotgun use by law enforcement agencies resulted in multiple deaths and serious injuries of hundred civilians between 2016 and 2018.” It also highlights that “one of the most dangerous weapons used against protestors during the unrest in 2016 was the pellet-firing shotgun that fires metal pellets.”
Imroz said, “I don’t think there will be a substantial decrease in the violence in the valley all of a sudden, but the report has given a moral boost to the Kashmiri youth, and it has also caused huge embarrassment to the Government of India. They have always managed that the reality of Kashmir should not reach to International forums.”
Thousand people detained under PSA between March 2016 and August 2017
The report also states that over 1,000 people were detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) between March 2016 and August 2017. It also found that the state government had not created any rules or standard operating procedures under PSA to guide the authorities while issuing a detention order.
The report covers both the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administrated Azad Kashmir.