Over the past 70 days, there have been over 84 deaths, hundreds have lost their eyesight to pellet wounds and thousands have been injured in Kashmir. As news reports of the death of 11 year old Nasir Shafi, son of Muhammad Shafi, a resident of New Theed Harwan in Srinagar emerge, we also hear about Showkat Ahmed Misger, a person with mental disabilities from Safa Kadal who was admitted in hospital in a critical condition with pellet wounds. Though the people of Chandpora were told by the police that Nasir Shafi was mauled by a bear, pictures of his body with pellet wounds and torture marks stand in contradiction to this official version of events. The violence unleashed by the armed forces continue unabated in Kashmir inspite of extensive social media outrage and mass protests in Indian cities like Patna, Kolkatta, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi etc.
Guest Post by Jammu and Kashmir Coalition for Civil Society on behalf of the signatories of the statement in support of Khurram Parvez
We, the undersigned, call for the immediate release of Khurram Parvez, a distinguished and courageous human rights defender, and write in support of the enclosed statements issued by Advocate Parvez Imroz
As we write this, Khurram Parvez has been remanded to preventive custody in a sub-jail in the highly militarized Kupwara District of Kashmir. He is expected to be produced before the court on 21 September 2016.
An executive magistrate in Srinagar issued the order against Khurram Parvez, invoking Sections 107 and 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) (pertaining to detention for breach of peace and design to commit a cognizable offence).
The actions against Mr. Parvez are symptomatic of the escalated repression in Kashmir by institutions of state since July 8.
We note with horror that since July 2016, over 80 persons have been killed, over 11,000 persons have been injured, over 1,000 persons have been arrested and over 100 ambulances have been attacked. For 70 days now, curfew has been imposed in various parts of Kashmir. Continue reading Free Khurram Parvez – An Open Letter to Civil Society: JKCCS
Guest Post by Jammu & Kashmir Coalition for Civil Society (JKCCS)
Over the last week – August 29 to 5 September, of uninterrupted curfew in Kashmir, the government’s unbridled use of force on peaceful public meetings/rallies, which are either funeral processions of the civilians killed by government forces or peaceful political rallies where people demand their right to self determination, across Kashmir valley has resulted in injuries to 1215+ people, many of whom are injured by pellets shot guns. The violence used by government forces against un-armed peaceful rallies deflates its claims that its forces only resort to violence when they are pelted with stones. Contrary to government claims, the use of force against the peaceful demonstrators acts as a provocation to people and youth in particular who then retaliate by stone throwing on Indian forces. The sheer number of peaceful pro-freedom rallies held in the last week alone symbolizes the nature of the current anti-India uprising which has seen lakhs of Kashmiris on streets to voice their demand for right to self-determination. Such attacks are against the internationally, and domestically, recognized fundamental rights of peoples to peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of opinion and expression, including India’s obligation under the ICCPR. Continue reading State Violence against Peaceful Assemblies in Kashmir: JKCCS
On behalf of JAMMU KASHMIR COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY [JKCCS]
- Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
- Juan Ernesto Mendez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
- Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
- David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society [JKCCS]
Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir
July 16, 2016
Re.: URGENT ACTION / APPEAL regarding deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir
- With grave concern and urgency we write to you today to bring to your immediate attention the ongoing State violence and repression against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir including repeated attacks on medical services, particularly hospital ambulances, carrying the dead and critically injured civilians. Jammu and Kashmir once again faces a humanitarian crisis that requires urgent international attention and intervention.
- With the presence of an estimated 7, 00,000 armed forces, Jammu and Kashmir is today the most militarized zone in the world and its civilians have faced widespread and systematic attacks at the hands of Indian State forces over the last 26 years. Thus far, the region has seen the commission of human rights violations, including war crimes that have resulted in70,000+ killings, 8000+ enforced disappearances and innumerous cases of torture and sexual violence. The armed forces, through special legislation but more importantly due to direct political support of the Indian state, enjoy total impunity and to date not a single armed forces personnel has been prosecuted for criminal actions in civilian courts of law. Continue reading URGENT ACTION / APPEAL regarding deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir
Guest Post by Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society
On 12 April 2016, armed forces personnel of Indian Army’s 21 RR and Jammu and Kashmir police killed three persons – two young boys and an old woman – in Handwara, Kupwara District, and injured around 24 civilians. Initial reports suggest that the armed forces fired at civilians protesting against sexual violence directed at a minor girl in Handwara town by army personnel.
24 hours after these killings the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, and army spokesperson have only made statements that do not address the steps that must be immediately taken. The army spokesperson while regretting the killing has assured action and stated that it would need to be ascertained if the “standard operating procedures” have been followed. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has sought assurance from the Indian Defence Minister that action would be taken in this case. Meanwhile, it appears that the Jammu and Kashmir Police have recorded and uploaded a video of the victim of sexual violence exonerating the army and both the police and army have circulated this video widely, including to news channels.
First, the army personnel of 21 RR involved in the killings, including those present on the scene of crime and in command of 21 RR, and involved police personnel, must be immediately arrested for purposes of investigations. Arms, ammunition and any other physical evidence connected to the killings must be immediately seized. Arrest of armed forces personnel in Jammu and Kashmir is not barred by any law. No “standard operating procedures” need to be consulted, particularly as it appears from RTI information sought that no such SOP’s even exist for situations such as the instant one of protests. Further, this preliminary step in investigation does not require the intervention of the army, Defence Minister or any other authority. But, the move by the Chief Minister to approach the Indian Defence Minister does explain where political power vis-à-vis even law and order in Kashmir lies. Thus far, media reports suggest that ASI Mohammad Rafiq has been suspended. His suspension is not enough as the amount of violence witnessed by people yesterday is not possible to have been carried out by one police official. Therefore, other officials responsible from army and police should be arrested immediately.
Second, the Jammu and Kashmir Police must immediately suspend the Superintendent of Police, Handwara, Ghulam Jeelani Wani, subject to investigations in this case as his role in the killings would need to be ascertained. Further, it appears that the video of the victim of sexual violence, a minor, has been circulated to distract from the investigation of 21 RR personnel responsible for the killings. Further, the actual circulation of the video, and disclosure of the identity of the victim, would invite prosecution under criminal law and/or other disciplinary action for the Superintendent of Police and other police officials involved. The army circulation of the video must also be examined as on one hand they have regretted the killings but at the same time are deeply invested in prejudicing investigations against their personnel. The circulation of this video has serious ramifications for the security of the victim.
Lastly, but most importantly, due to the role of the police, particularly the Handwara police, over the last 24 hours, the investigation of this case must be immediately, at the very least, handed over to a senior police officer of another district, with no criminal allegations against him.
Past crimes committed by the armed forces have been buried in a manner similar to what we witness today in the case of the Handwara killings. Following initial statements by the army and the State, no action is taken. The army claims to carry out an enquiry which is invariably not made public and is an essentially an attempt to take the case out of the public domain and protect the accused army personnel. It is pertinent to recall that in 2004 in Badra Payeen village, Handwara, when an army office was accused of rape of a mother and daughter, Mehbooba Mufti and then Chief Minister, Mufti Sayeed assured that the guilty officer would be punished. Mehbooba Mufti may have forgotten this case but people of Kashmir remember the case and also know that the accused officer was not tried by the civilian court but by army court-martial that did not convict him for rape and he was subsequently re-instated to the army. It appears the assurances by Mehbooba Mufti and the Indian Defence Minister in Handwara killings are no different from the standard role of the State in numerous cases, including the Badra Payeen case.