Guest Post by Chirag Thakkar
Witnessing a culture of wounds trying to put itself together in times of a grave catastrophe is a difficult pursuit. For the archivist of State violence, the horror with which TRP-hungry television studios build a spectacle that is acutely wedded to a deep-rooted, pungent nationalism around catastrophe and relief in Kashmir, is frustrating. The insensitivity with which the Indian media has rubbed salt in the wounds of a people is appalling. One wonders if ours is a culture of calculated amnesia or of sightless apathy.
There is something very unique about the way in which we relate with the pain of the other. What is unique is the precision with which we reproduce perceptions about the masculine, hardened sons of soil – the security forces – and yet, at the same time, remain unmoved in failing to recognise the state of exception Kashmir has been in. What is also unique is how measured and stingy we are with our sympathy. Continue reading Unwrapping the Soldier from the Flag – Kashmir after the Flood: Chirag Thakkar
Guest post by ADITYA PRAKASH
The following is a narrative of a torture victim I gathered during my time in Kashmir as a researcher. The person interviewed was tortured by the 2nd Dogra regiment of the Indian Army.
Where is your gun?
On the night of 28th October 1991, the 2nd Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army was conducting interrogations in Palhallan. Palhallan is a large village in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir.
People suspected of having links with terrorists were interrogated. The women and men were asked to come out of their homes. The women were asked to gather at the local dargah (shrine) and the men were lined up in the village school.
A major from the 2nd Dogra handpicked Manzoor Ahmad Naikoo to step forward. Others were also short listed for interrogation. Manzoor was taken inside the school and forced to strip. He was made to sit on a chair. His hands were fastened to his back.
‘Taaki main kuch na kar sakoon’
He was completely immobilized. The army personnel then asked him for his gun. Manzoor Ahmad said he had no gun. He tried to convince them that he was a shopkeeper and never owned a gun. Continue reading Courage is silent and Stoic – Tortured in Kashmir: Aditya Prakash
Guest post by MOHD. AMIR KHAN
[ Mohd. Aamir Khan has spent 14 years in prison and was acquitted earlier this year]
I am in deep pain today. As though terrible, terrible memories, locked away in the deep recesses of my mind have been pried open. Heard on news that an accused in terror case was killed in judicial custody in Yerwada jail. That too in his high security cell.
I had read that the British rulers unleashed physical and mental torture on prisoners in colonial jails, but have never heard that they carried out killings of hapless convicts or undertrials in their custody. The naked truth of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo has been brought before the world. But who will illumine the dark secrets of the netherworld of our prisons? Brutalisation and torture are routine in our jails.
I speak from experience, having lived for fourteen long and seemingly unending years in prisons in three states. There was a near fatal attack on me twelve years ago while I was lodged in the model prison of India, Tihar Jail. But when I survived the attack, a case was slapped on me. While I was thankfully acquitted in the case, not one of those who attacked me was charged until my father – who was still alive then—appealed to the court to intervene. Mercifully, the Court accepted his complaint and registered a case, which still goes on in Tees Hazari court. Continue reading False Charges and Brutality in Prison: Mohd Amir Khan
So, this is how the borders of the Republic of India are also defended. With sticks, ropes and bluetooth enabled mobile phones. Eight soldiers of the Border Security Force, hold down a young Bangladeshi man accused of cattle smuggling. He is stripped naked, hogtied and then thrashed. He screams in agony and humiliation. The soldiers act as if they are out on a picnic. They discuss whether or not to give him some tea. Where to hurt him, on which body parts. How big a stick to use on him. Someone says “cut his ear off”. They stroll casually around him as he is humiliated. They laugh. He cries, as people usually do in these circumstances, and seems to call for his mother. Someone, probably one of the soldiers, records it all on video, on the 9th of December, 2010, somewhere along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Murshidabad, West Bengal
Continue reading The BSF as Pornographer: Bravehearts with Bluetooth
There are few books as exhilarating as one by a comrade that is intellectually engaging and speaks to the current context. I was invited by 3rd i NY to a Conversation titled ‘Torturing Democracies: Past and Present’, where Jinee and I discussed her new book at Alwan for the Arts. The conversation came to life with the audience which included many of our comrades from the South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI) including Prachi. After that wonderful conversation, Prachi and I decided to delve further into the book and write a review. This was an exercise very different from what we normally engage with in SASI around our solidarity campaigns, but it was also a wonderful way to see another side of Jinee. That is the theoretically rich research of someone whom we relied on as a solid activist. I feel we should be doing more of reading, writing about and debating the work of our activist friends. A shorter version of this review has been published by Himal. Perhaps some of the themes in the book can be debated here with this longer review. Continue reading Transnational Torture by Jinee Lokaneeta reviewed with Prachi Patankar
Guest post by ARVIND NARRAIN, based on a talk given at the Kannada book release of Inner Voice of Another India: The Writings of Balagopal, at National College Basavangudi, Bangalore, 30 October, 2010
Remembering Balagopal: Thought, Action and the Moral Imagination of Human Rights [i]
One year after Balagopal’s death, what remains with us are memories of the number of times he spoke with such eloquence on human rights issues on his numerous visits to Bangalore. We also go back to his writings in the EPW which show the clarity of his thought. Be it his speeches or his writings , it was clear that for Balagopal words were tools he used to express thought. Language for him was not something which served to obfsucate meaning and muddy concepts, but rather a tool which had to be used to clarify difficult ideas and cut through conceptual confusions. In George Orwell’s striking phrase, both his writing and his speeches had the clarity of a windowpane. Continue reading Remembering Balagopal – Thought, Action and the Moral Imagination of Human Rights: Arvind Narrain
Guest post by DIBYESH ANAND
Dibyesh Anand is Associate Professor at Westminster University and writes on majority-minority relations in China and India
Democracy is as much an idea, as it is a political system. An idea for which millions have given life and even more have been killed. When non-democratic or quasi-democratic states suppress people, it is a shame, but when established democracies kill their own citizens for exercising their legitimate right to protest, it is a bigger tragedy. Bigger because it is not only men and women who die, but also the hope that democracy offers a humane and representative form of government at least for its own people.
This is the hope that is dying in the world’s largest democracy as the security forces continue to kill unarmed protestors every day for the last two months in Indian controlled Kashmi. Till date, more than a hundred, mostly young men and children, have been killed by those who are supposed to be the protectors. Evidence of torture, gratuitous killings, and sheer brutal dehumanisation of ordinary people are in abundance and yet the Indian state responds by threatening action against those who reveal the evidence and against forums (such as facebook, youtube) that allow these to be made public. There is no sense of humility, regret or introspection. No promise of impartial inquiry and strict punishment for the law-enforcers who kill and maim with impunity. Not even A of an apology.
Continue reading We are all Kashmiris! Or at least should be!: Dibyesh Anand
I was going to write out a reply to the comments on Shuddha’s post, Kashmir’s Abu Gharaiab, but thought I would expand it into a larger post.
I’d like to make clear that I have been to Kashmir only once – and that too for a few hours in the aftermath of the earthquake, so if anyone writes back saying, “I should see the ground reality in Kashmir”; I concede that point straight off the bat. I should see the ground reality in Kashmir; we all should.
However, over the last eight months, I have had the opportunity to interact very closely with central paramilitary forces like the BSF and CRPF in the course of their deployment in Chhattisgarh, where I work. Many of the men conducting anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh have served in Kashmir and the North-East theatres.
Over the last three days, I and a reporter from the Times of India have been working on a story in which a group of adivasis from two villages in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district have accused the BSF of torturing a number of young men and women from their respective villages by beating them and also administering electric shocks.
Continue reading On Torture and Testimonies
Guest post by FAHAD MUSTAFA
On 31st May, the Chinese government released guidelines that banned the admissibility of evidence obtained under torture in criminal convictions. This came a few weeks after the revelation of the seemingly bizarre, yet not completely uncommon, case of Zhou Zuohai. Zhuo was released after being imprisoned for 11 years in Shanqqi, on charges of murder, when his alleged victim was found alive in his village. He was imprisoned on the basis of his confession of the crime. A couple of days after he was released the authorities admitted that the confession was obtained under torture. Zhuo described his beatings: the pouring of chilli water in his eyes, the bursting of firecrackers over his head, and how he thought he would not survive. When he said what he was expected to say, the torture stopped, and he was convicted.
Lawyers, police, and governments in most countries, including China, understand that torture is counterproductive in extracting evidence. Indeed, China has issued several directives earlier to say that evidence under torture is unacceptable. As in the case of Zuohai, most confessions of this sort are false or misleading, and are given only to make the immediate suffering stop. Why then do police forces continue to use torture or the threat of it as a means to extract evidence? Continue reading On torture in India and China
Seventeen Adivasi villagers of Samna in Orissa’s Narayanpatna block
claim that they were brutally assaulted in custody last week, an
allegation the police have denied.
According to the villagers, they were picked up on May 9, as part of a
joint operation conducted by the Orissa and Andhra Pradesh police
along the inter-State border, airlifted to a police station in Andhra
Pradesh and held in custody for three days before being released on
“Uniformed policemen surrounded our village on Sunday morning [May 9],
when we were leaving for the market,” said Nachika Jaddo, one of those
who were picked up. “Seventeen men, including two dokras [old men]
were rounded up, beaten up and then dragged to a spot 2 km away.”
Continue reading Adivasis allege torture in anti-Naxal operations
An escalating wave of attacks on social activists has been sweeping the country. Several recent incidents indicate an increase in the number of cases alleging grave human rights abuses against social activists, and a shift from low-level targeting, such as intimidation and harassment, to more serious violations, such as detention, prosecution, imprisonment and threats to their physical integrity. The authorities are also trying to silence them through unfair trial, denial of bail and long prison terms. There is excessive use of force, torture and other ill-treatment by the police. Women social activists are facing further violations, as women and as human rights defenders, including sexist verbal abuse and derogatory accusations. Continue reading Silencing Social Activists
To: Mr. Omar Abdullah
Jammu and Kashmir
From: The International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir Continue reading Kashmir Tribunal Memorandum to CM Omar Abdullah
The Express Story today on the detention and torture of 6 Muslim men/boys in the wake of the Hyderabad blasts makes for chilling, terrifying reading. Amongst over 70 Muslim men who were arrested by the Hyderabad police, they detail custodial abuse and torture which ranges from stripping, to severe beatings on the hands and soles of their feet, to electrical shocks administered to genitalia. With characteristic insouciance and perversity the government has announced a ‘healing touch’ compensation of Rs 30,000 to each victim of the police’s tactile ministrations.
Continue reading Collateral Damage in our ‘War on Terror’
(Or how I came to love the Press)
As I stepped out of B.’s house last night, I pulled my jacket close to ward of the cold and veered vaguely to the right as I looked for my car. I felt in the pocket for the car’s central-locking remote, and on finding it, pressed the un-lock button on the device. I heard my sister’s trusty Wagon-R tick-tock in recognition out on the left. On the left course! I had parked the car on left. I usually parked on the right under the streetlight, but this time my space had been taken. So I had parked on the left. I corrected course and lurched decisively to the left – the source of the sound, and the site of the parked car.
My ear it seems, had picked up the sound – measured it in terms of intensity – and my brain had decoded it and accorded it a positional characteristic. So this car was approximately 20 degrees behind my left ear. I looked – there it was, I walked up to it and drove home.
“ Continue reading A cruel and unusual punishment