16 June 2018

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In Depth Know facts from UN Report on Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir 2018

In Depth Know Important facts from UN Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir 2018

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir:
Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan

Without access to Kashmir on either side of the Line of Control, OHCHR has undertaken remote monitoring of the human rights situation. This report is the result of such monitoring, based on the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as provided by United Nations General Assembly resolution 48/141. The mandate of the High Commissioner includes the full range of activities aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights, including monitoring and reporting.

Prior to 1947, under British rule, the Jammu and Kashmir region was one of the largest princely states in the Indian subcontinent. According to the India Independence Act, 1947, the princely states had the right to remain independent or accede to either of the then two new fully sovereign dominions of India and Pakistan. 6 At the time, Hari Singh, the Hindu ruler of the Muslim-majority kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir, initially chose to remain independent. However, on 26 October 1947, under pressure from invading Pashtun forces, he signed the Instrument of Accession to India.7 An armed conflict involving Indian and Pakistani forces followed, which India brought to the attention of the United Nations Security Council on 1 January 1948. Pakistan raised its concerns on the same matter two weeks later

On 20 January 1948, the Security Council through Resolution 39 established the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to investigate the allegations made by the Governments of India and Pakistan and to assist with mediating the dispute. On 21 April 1948, Security Council Resolution 47 expanded the mandate of the Commission and mandated it to facilitate a “free and impartial plebiscite to decide whether the State of Jammu and Kashmir is to accede to India or Pakistan.” Although Kashmir had been briefly independent between August and October 1947, the resolution did not provide an option for the people of Kashmir to choose independence.

Resolution 47 recommended that the Government of Pakistan should secure the withdrawal of tribesmen and Pakistani fighters from the state of Jammu and Kashmir and prevent any intrusions into the state or aid to those fighting. The plebiscite was to take place after the implementation of various measures foreseen in Resolution 47

The resolution called on the Government of India to reduce its force to the minimum required for the maintenance of law and order, at such time “[w]hen it is established to the satisfaction of the Commission…that the tribesmen are withdrawing and that arrangements for the cessation of the fighting have become effective.”

Resolution 47 also stated that the measures indicated in various paragraphs provide full freedom to all subjects of Jammu and Kashmir, regardless of creed, caste, or party, to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State, and that therefore they should co-operate in the maintenance of peace and order. Furthermore, the Security Council recommended that the Government of India should ensure that the Government of the state releases all political prisoners and take all possible steps so that: (a) all citizens of the state who have left it on account of disturbances are invited and are free to return to their homes and to exercise their rights as such citizens; (b) there be no victimization; minorities in all parts of the state be accorded adequate protection. Security Council Resolution 47 (1948), paragraph 1(b) and 14.  Following unresolved colonial-era boundary disputes, India and China went to war in 1962, which resulted in China taking control of the largely uninhabited tract of Aksai Chin in the East. As part of a broader boundary agreement, in 1963, Pakistan ceded to China the Shaksgam or Trans-Karakoram tract in the Gilgit-Baltistan area. The agreement includes a provision for renegotiation in case of a change in sovereign authority after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India.

A ceasefire line was established in July 1949, and military observers were appointed by the Security Council to monitor it. In 1951, UNCIP was terminated, and the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was established. It continued the work of military observers by Security Council Resolution 91.

The ceasefire line divided the former princely state, with Pakistan controlling the Muslim-majority western and northern areas of Jammu and Kashmir, called Azad (“free”) Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan (previously called the Northern Areas) respectively; and India retaining control of the Kashmir Valley with its overwhelmingly Muslim population, the Hindu majority region of Jammu13 in the south and Muslim-Buddhist Ladakh in the east. These three areas together constitute the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Part of the territory of the former princely state is under the control of China.

Security Council Resolution 98 of 1952 clarified that this should mean 3,000 to 6,000 soldiers remaining on the Pakistani side of the ceasefire line, and 12,000 to 18,000 on the Indian side.

Although the “India-Pakistan Question” remained on the agenda of the Security Council until 1957, leading to several resolutions, the plebiscite never took place as the requisite conditions of withdrawal of forces was not fulfilled.

 In 1957, Security Council Resolution 122 noted about the convening of a constituent assembly, as recommended by the General Council of the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, “any action that assembly may have taken or might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire state or any part thereof, or action by the parties concerned in support of any such action by the assembly, would not constitute a disposition of the state in accordance with the principles”16 established by previous resolutions of the Security Council and UNCIP.

Minor changes to the ceasefire line in Kashmir followed a second war between India and Pakistan in 1965. Following another war in December 1971, it was eventually converted into the Line of Control, based on the December 1971 ceasefire positions, through the 1972 Simla Agreement signed between the Governments of India and Pakistan. The Simla Agreement calls for “the establishment of durable peace in the sub-continent, so that both countries may henceforth devote their resources and energies to the pressing task of advancing the welfare of their peoples” and “resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon
between them.

Furthermore, the Simla Agreement notes: “Both Governments agree that their respective Heads will meet again at a mutually convenient time in the future and that, in the meanwhile, the representatives of the two sides will meet to discuss further the modalities and arrangements for the establishment of durable peace and normalization of relations, including the questions of repatriation of prisoners of war and civilian internees, a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir and the resumption of diplomatic relations.”

The Government of India has since claimed that the Simla Agreement made all previous Security Council resolutions redundant, while the Government of Pakistan has continued to call for the implementation of these resolutions.19 The United Nations Secretary General's position has been that UNMOGIP can only be terminated by a decision of the Security Council; as such a decision has not been taken, UNMOGIP has continued to operate.

In 1990, India introduced the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA)21 to manage the armed groups that had emerged by the end of the 1980s over objections to Indian control over Kashmir.22 A large number of Indian security forces were subsequently deployed to Kashmir with allegations of resulting serious human rights violations. Civil society and media often cite the figure of 500,000 to 700,000 troops23 which would make Kashmir one of the most militarized zones in the world. The allegations of human rights violations include torture and custodial deaths, rape, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. At the same time, armed groups are believed to have been
committing significant human rights abuses, including hostage-taking, targeted killings, and indiscriminate attacks against civilians.24 In addition to serious human rights violations resulting from the militarization of Kashmir, Kashmiris have also complained of high unemployment, interference with local elections, 25 and denial of their right to self determination.

Another war took place between India and Pakistan in 1999, albeit limited to the Line of Control in the Kargil area of Ladakh. Firing across the Line of Control by both sides has continued to today. Ceasefire violations have increased since 2016, causing a significant number of casualties and displacement reported on both sides of the Line of Control. The report addresses the human rights impact of these ceasefire violations.

The Jammu and Kashmir region refers to the entire territory of the former princely state before 1947; in shorthand, this region is referred to as Kashmir in the report.

There is no specific decision of a UN intergovernmental organ that clarifies which terminology should be used to describe the region of Kashmir. The Secretary-General’s reports and letters have used the following terms: Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir, State of Jammu and Kashmir, Indian administered side of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, and Pakistan Administered Kashmir. In a statement of 17 August 2016, the Secretary-General referred to Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. OHCHR refers in the report to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Where useful for clarity or brevity, OHCHR also uses Pakistan-Administered Kashmir and Indian Administered Kashmir.

This report covers both the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (consisting of the Kashmir Valley, the Jammu and Ladakh regions) and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan). The focus of the report is on the situation of human rights in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018 over which period allegations of widespread and serious human rights violations were received, notably excessive use of force by Indian security forces that led to numerous civilian casualties.

The UN Human Rights Office – which, despite repeated requests to both India and Pakistan over the past two years, has not been given unconditional access to either side of the Line of Control – undertook remote monitoring to produce the report, which covers both Indian-Administered Kashmir and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir.

The main focus of the report is the human rights situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 – when large and unprecedented demonstrations erupted after Indian security forces killed the leader of an armed group – to April 2018.

The report also examines a range of human rights violations in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir which, according to the report, are of a different calibre or magnitude and of a more structural nature. In addition, the report says, restrictions on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and in Gilgit-Baltistan have limited the ability to obtain information about the situation.

Report released date June 14, 2018

First-ever UN human rights report on Kashmir calls for international inquiry into multiple violations  The 49-page report – the first ever issued by the UN on the human rights situation in Indian-Administered and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir – details human rights violations and abuses on both sides of the Line of Control, and highlights a situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said following -

a- The political dimensions of the dispute between India and Pakistan have long been centre-stage, but this is not a conflict frozen in time. It is a conflict that has robbed millions of their basic human rights, and continues to this day to inflict untold suffering

b-“This is why any resolution of the political situation in Kashmir must entail a commitment to end the cycles of violence and ensure accountability for past and current violations and abuses by all parties, and provide redress for victims,”

c-“It is also why I will be urging the UN Human Rights Council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir,”

d-It is essential the Indian authorities take immediate and effective steps to avoid a repetition of the numerous examples of excessive use of force by security forces in Kashmir

On 8 July 2016, Burhan Wani, the 22-year old leader of the Hizbul Mujahidin, an armed group, was killed by Indian security forces during an armed clash in Bumdoora village
in Kokernag area in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This triggered protests against his killing 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. While Indian-Administered Kashmir has experienced waves of protests in the past—in the late 1980s to early 1990s, 2008 and 2010—this current round of
protests appears to involve more people than the past, and the profile of protesters has also shifted to include more young, middle-class Kashmiris, including females who do not appear
to have been participating in the past. Some of the root causes of the discontent fuelling protesters are addressed in this report.

In responding to demonstrations that started in July 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries. Civil society estimates are that 130 to 145 civilians were killed by security forces between mid-July 2016 and end of March 2018, and 16 to 20 civilians were killed by armed groups in the same period. One of most dangerous weapons used against protesters during the unrest in 2016 was the pellet-firing shotgun, which is a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun that fires metal pellets.

In the same context, since the late 1980s, a variety of armed groups has been actively operating in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and there has been documented evidence of these groups committing a wide range of human rights abuses, including kidnappings and killings of civilians and sexual violence. The landscape of armed intervention by groups operating in Indian-Administered Kashmir has shifted over the years.

In the 1990s, around a dozen significant armed groups were operating in the region; currently, less than half that number remain active.

Despite the Government of Pakistan’s assertions of denial of any support to these groups, experts believe that Pakistan’s military continues to support their operations across the Line of Control in Indian-Administered Kashmir.

Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Special laws in force in the state, such as the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA), have created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.
Over 1,000 people were detained under the PSA between March 2016 and August 2017. Human rights groups had warned Jammu and Kashmir authorities that minors were being arrested under the PSA in 2016 and 2017.

The Kashmir region experienced frequent communications blockades during the 2016 unrest as the state Government suspended mobile and internet services on multiple occasions. In 2016, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir imposed restrictions on freedom of expression, targeting media and journalists.

Pakistan’s prime minister, the federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and GilgitBaltistan and the federal civil service have full control over all government operations in both Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). According to an international NGO, federal intelligence agencies are deployed across the two regions and have “considerable powers over local elected representatives and officials”. Given such a constitutional relationship with Pakistan, residents of AJK and G-B do not enjoy all the rights and protections available to those under the Pakistan Constitution.

The interim constitution of AJK has placed several restrictions on anyone criticizing AJK’s accession to Pakistan, in contravention to international standards on the rights to freedoms of expression and opinion, assembly and association.

A national NGO found that “hundreds of individuals” had been imprisoned under the Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 in G-B, and it was being used to target locals who have been raising issues related to the “rights of the people”

A national NGO was informed that G-B authorities had forcibly evicted locals in Maqpoon Das area, while the Chief Secretary of G-B had allocated the same land to state authorities for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The displaced claimed they had not received compensation or relocation from the authorities. OHCHR has received information that indigenous people in G-B have complained of not being properly informed or consulted on decisions affecting them and their livelihoods.

Indian state Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018 – Civil society estimates are that 130 to 145 civilians were killed by security forces between mid-July 2016 and end of March 2018, and 16 to 20 civilians killed by armed groups.2 The Government of Jammu and Kashmir in 2017 initially said 78 people including 2 police officers were killed in the 2016 unrest but in 2017 revised the figure down to 51 people killed and 9,042 injured between 8 July 2016 and 27 February 2017

AFSPA 1990 was passed by the Parliament of India on 10 September 1990 but was “deemed to have come into force” retrospectively from 5 July 1990. This act grants broad powers to the security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir and effectively bestows immunity from prosecution in civilian courts for their conduct by requiring the central government to sanction all prospective prosecutions against such personnel prior to being launched. It is almost identical to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 that is in force in several states of north-east India;29 however, a separate version of the same law had to be enacted specifically for Jammu and Kashmir due to its special status under article 370
of the Indian Constitution.

Section 7 of AFSPA 1990 prohibits the prosecution of security forces personnel unless the Government of India grants a prior permission or “sanction” to prosecute. This gives security forces virtual immunity against prosecution for any human rights violation. In the nearly 28 years that the law has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir, there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government. In relation to this, the Indian authorities claim they follow a policy of “zero tolerance against human rights violations” and that military courts appropriately handle any allegations of human rights violations.

On 1 January 2018, the Union Ministry of Defence informed the upper house of the Indian Parliament that it had received 50 requests for sanction for prosecution from the Government of Jammu and Kashmir since AFSPA 1990 came into force. Sanction requests in 47 cases were rejected

Section 4 of AFSPA 1990 allows any personnel operating under the law to use lethal force not only in cases of self-defense but also against any person contravening laws or orders “prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons”

Given the restriction imposed by Section 7 of AFSPA 1990, most cases of alleged excessive use of force have never been independently investigated or prosecuted.

While the Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutional validity of AFSPA in 1997,39 it has since passed orders challenging the restriction as provided in Section 7 that prohibits the prosecution of security forces personnel. In July 2017, the Supreme Court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings by security forces in the state of Manipur. However, there has been no such initiative in cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2005, the Supreme Court appointed a committee to review AFSPA. The committee stated that the law had become “a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness”. While there has been no official position on this committee’s recommendations, in December 2015 media reports claimed that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had rejected the committee’s proposals.

In 2012, a committee, established by the Central Government to review laws against sexual violence, recommended that AFSPA be amended so that cases of sexual violence by members of the armed forces would be brought under the purview of ordinary criminal law. However, this recommendation has not been implemented. In 2012, in its submission in the context of India’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the National Human Rights Commission of India stated that AFSPA “remains in force in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-Eastern States, conferring an impunity that often leads to the violation of human rights”.

 In November 2014, the Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari, recognized there were frequent complaints about the misuse of laws such as AFSPA and that “this reflected poorly on the State and its agents”.

The Committee urged that “judicial inquiries be mandatory in all cases of death at the hands of the security and armed forces and that the judges in such inquiries, including those under the Commission of Inquiry Act of 1952, be empowered to direct the prosecution of security and armed forces personnel

During India’s UPR in 2008,2012 and 2017,several United Nations Member States recommended that India repeal or revise the AFSPA. In the third cycle of the UPR, the Government of India admitted that concerns had been raised about AFSPA and that there was an “on-going and vibrant political debate” about whether “AFSPA should be repealed or the provision for sanctions should continue”.However, in March 2018, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, told the Parliament that there was no proposal to repeal or amend AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir. He added: “[H]however, a proposal is under consideration to make the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 more
operationally effective and humane”.

The National Human Rights Commission of India has acknowledged that Section 19 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 severely restricts its powers to investigate incidents involving armed forces.56 The Human Rights Committee also observed that the National Human Rights Commission of India cannot investigate directly complaints against armed forces and that it is subject to a one year statute of limitations preventing investigation of past human rights violations. The Committee recommended that these restrictions be removed and that the Commission be authorized to investigate all allegations of violations by agents of the State.

The Indian military justice system is based predominantly on three separate acts: the Army Act, 1950; the Air Force Act, 1950; and the Navy Act, 1950. The paramilitary or central police forces under the central government are governed by their own specific acts and rules. In 2007, the Armed Forces Tribunal was established to deal with “appeals from court martial verdicts and grievances related to conditions of service, including promotions, confirmations and appointments”.

In February 2018, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Parliament that since 1990 the Jammu and Kashmir Government had sought the sanction of the central government for prosecution of members of the security forces in 50 cases.62 The central government refused to sanction prosecution in 47 cases, while decisions remained pending in relation to 3 cases as of April 2018

In July 2017, the Armed Forces Tribunal suspended the life sentences and granted bail to five Indian Army personnel who had been convicted by an army court-martial on 12 November 2014 for the extrajudicial killing of three civilians in Macchil in Baramulla district in 2010. The killings, which were perpetrated on the night of 29 April 2010, had triggered violent protests in Kashmir in the summer of 2010 and resulted in the deaths of over 100 protesters. The Armed Forces Tribunal’s decision to suspend the life sentences has not been made public. Neither the state nor central authorities have challenged the Armed Forces Tribunal’s order.

In April 2013, the Supreme Court granted security forces the option to try their own personnel, and the Border Security Force exercised this option in a few instances to the benefit of its personnel.68 Thus, in June 2017, media reports indicated that the General Security Forces Court69 had acquitted two members of the Border Security Force accused of the extrajudicial execution of 16-year old Zahid Farooq Sheikh on 5 February 2010.Human rights groups which have been in touch with his families stated they were unaware of the decisions of the military courts or the status of their cases.

PSA – Introduced in 1978 to primarily deal with timber smugglers, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA) is the most commonly used law for the purpose of administrative detention.
PSA authorizes the authorities to impose an administrative detention order for a broad range of activities that are vaguely defined, including “acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State” or for “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.

PSA allows for detention without charge or trial for up to two years in some cases.

According to an international NGO, these “vague and broad definitions grant the authorities sweeping powers, whilst also seriously diminishing any real possibility for detainees to contest the legality of their detention.”

In 2012, the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly amended PSA to prohibit the detention of people under 18 years of age. However, during the 2016 unrest, there were multiple cases of children under 18 years being detained under PSA

PSA does not provide for a judicial review of detention,79 and state authorities have been countering orders by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to release people detained under this law by issuing successive detention orders.80 This tactic has been used to keep people in detention for several weeks, months and, in some cases, years.81 The Supreme Court of India has described the system of administrative detention, including PSA, as a “lawless law”.

Civil society groups estimate that between 90 and 105 people were killed during the unrest between July and December 2016. According to Srinagar-based Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), 105 people were killed in the period following protests that spread across the Kashmir Valley after 8 July 2016.It claims deaths were caused by injuries from pellet shotguns, bullets, tear gas shells, as well as by drowning, inhaling chemical shell fumes and shooting by unidentified gunmen.92 Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists all claim there were over 90 fatalities in 2016

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti told the state assembly on 23 January 2018 that 172 people had been killed since 2016: 105 in “law and order problems” (85 in 2016 and 20 in 2017); and 67 people in “militancy related incidents” (19 in 2016 and 48 in 2017).

JKCCS reported that 108 people were killed in 2017, including 19 near sites of armed encounters between security forces and armed groups.95 It claims that nine people were killed by security forces during clashes around the parliamentary elections in April 2017, and four died from pellet shotgun injuries.

on 27 January 2018, three civilians were reportedly killed and several injured in Shopian district when Indian Army personnel fired at protesters, some of whom were reportedly throwing stones at security forces . The killings sparked large protests across southern Kashmir for several days. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti announced a magistrate-level inquiry, and the state police filed a FIR against army personnel of 10 Garhwal Rifles under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) 124 of the Ranbir Penal Code.125 One of the Indian Army officers involved
in the incident petitioned the Supreme Court of India to cancel the FIR. Consequently, on 5 March 2018, the court ordered Jammu and Kashmir authorities to halt all investigations
until its final verdict

One of most dangerous weapons used against protesters during the unrest in 2016 was the pellet-firing shotgun, which is a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun that fires metal pellets. It
was deployed by the Central Reserve Police Force and the Jammu and Kashmir Police against protesters, some of whom were throwing stones. According to human rights organizations,
the shotgun cartridges contain 500 to 600 pellets that resemble ball bearings. The ammunition is made of lead alloy that is fired at a high velocity thereby dispersing the metal
pellets over a large area. Experts claim that there is no way of adequately controlling the trajectory of these shotguns beyond a limited range, which makes them inherently inaccurate
and indiscriminate.  The pellet-firing shotgun was first used in Kashmir during mass protests in 2010; it is not known to have been used against protesters anywhere else in

The Central Reserve Police Force claims the pellet-firing shotgun is the “least lethal” option they have at their disposal for crowd-control. However, pellet shotgun use by law enforcement agencies resulted in multiple deaths and serious injuries of hundreds civilians between 2016 and 2018. According to official figures presented in the Parliament, 17 people were killed by pellet injuries between July 2016 and August 2017.According to information received by the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) from 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley, 1,726 people were injured by metal pellets in 2016.In January 2018, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti stated before the state assembly that 6,221 people had been injured by pellet guns in Kashmir between 8 July 2016 and 27 February 2017; among the victims, 728 had eye injuries. The Chief Minister reported that 54 people suffered some form of visual impairment due to pellet injuries. Civil society organizations claim that the number of people partially or completely blinded due to pellet  injuries is higher.

A few months after violent confrontations between protesters and security forces in Kashmir left over 100 people dead in the summer of 2010, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs commissioned a task force to produce standard operating procedures for the use of non-lethal measures in “public agitations”.The 12-gauge pellet-firing shotgun used in Kashmir was not listed in the Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Bureau of Police Research and Development in March 2011.A right to information application seeking to know the “efficacy and impact” of the pellet shotgun was rejected by the authorities on the grounds that this was sensitive information related to national security. In February 2018, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs told the Parliament that a state-run laboratory had conducted tests on the impact of metal pellets but has not published the results.

On 9 January 2017, it ordered the Deputy General of Police-Central Kashmir Range to set up a Special Investigation Team to probe the killing of 21-year-old Riyaz Ahmad Shah, on 2 August 2016. A pellet cartridge shot at close range had penetrated and burst in his abdomen, leaving over 300 metal pellets in his body

Indian security forces continue to use pellet shotguns in Kashmir today. On 1 April 2018, around 40 people were reportedly injured, including 35 hit in the eyes, by pellet shotguns used against people protesting against the killing of civilians in Shopian and Anantnag districts

A right to information application found that over 1,000 people were detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 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. Issuing authorities – usually district magistrates or divisional commissioners – thus solely rely on dossiers prepared by the Jammu and Kashmir Police and reportedly do not verify facts. Additional work may be needed to verify this allegation.

For example, on 15 September 2016, prominent civil society advocate Khurram Parvez was arrested and detained under PSA, a day after being prevented from traveling to Geneva to attend the thirty-third session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Several United Nations human rights experts publicly called for his immediate release, noting that the travel ban and his detention were “a deliberate attempt to obstruct his legitimate human rights activism”.He was released on 30 November 2016 after spending 76 days in detention.

On 18 August 2016, a 30-year-old college lecturer, Shabir Ahmad Mangoo, died after being severely beaten in the custody of the Indian Army on 18 August 2016.183 He was among
30 men picked up from their houses in Pampore of Pulwama district by the Indian Army and Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police

In a video that emerged on 14 April 2017, a Kashmiri man, Farooq Ahmad Dar, was seen strapped to the front of a moving Indian Army jeep, while a soldier can be heard shouting, “This will be the fate of those who throw stones.”187 Farooq Ahmad Dar later told journalists and human rights organizations that on 9 April while he was going to a neighboring village, army personnel seized him and tied him to the front of an army jeep which drove around Budgam district for over 28 kilometres. The Indian Army claimed Farooq Ahmad Dar was leading stone-throwing protesters, and that they tied him to the jeep to use him to protect election officials.189 Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat and Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi defended the Army’s use of Farooq Ahmad Dar as  a “human shield”.In May 2017, the Indian Army presented an award to the soldier accused of ordering the actions against Farooq Ahmad Dar.

In a decision issued in July 2017, SHRC found Farooq Ahmad Dar had been subjected to torture, humiliation and wrongful confinement, and directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to pay him Rs 1 million (approximately USD 15,600) as compensation. The state government refused to pay the compensation arguing that it was not responsible for this human rights violation and that it had met its responsibility by initiating an investigation into the case.  SHRC did not send a notice to the Indian Army as it does not have jurisdiction over forces controlled by the central government operating in Kashmir. Farooq Ahmad Dar has not yet received any compensation.

While JKCCS and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons claim over 8,000 people have been disappeared since 1989, the state and central governments say around 4,000 are missing, most of whom they allege crossed over to Pakistan-Administered Kashmir. In January 2017, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti told the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly that 4,008 “missing persons” from the state were in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir for arms training.

The Kashmir region experienced frequent communications blockades during the 2016 unrest as the state government suspended mobile and internet services on multiple occasions. The authorities justified the complete bar on mobile internet facilities that affected nearly 7 million people in Kashmir for between 5 to 7 months “as [a] preventive measure to avoid any law and order problems and passing of rumours by miscreants/ anti national elements.”

Communications blackouts seriously impact the right of people to seek, receive, and impart information, which is integral to the right to freedom of expression. The Doctors Association Kashmir said the indefinite communications blackouts had a profound impact on the right to health and right to life as civilians struggled to access medical services without phone or internet connections

In 2016, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir imposed restrictions on freedom of expression, targeting media and journalists. During the night of 15 July 2016, Jammu and Kashmir Police raided the offices of three prominent newspapers in the Kashmir Valley: Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Times and Rising Kashmir; copies of their newspapers were seized and some staff reportedly detained. The newspapers were not allowed to publish for three days. The editors were only informed of the decision orally and no written orders were  provided. It is unclear if any judicial process was undertaken to look into this publication embargo, as the chief minister subsequently claimed that the situation was created by a gap in communication and was not intended as a ban.

The nearly three month ban on the Kashmir Reader newspaper was ostensibly for its critical coverage of the state government’s response to the 2016 protests Several international groups working on media freedoms, including PEN International and the Committee to Protect Journalists, criticized the ban on the Kashmir Reader.

According to an internet freedoms group, internet services in Jammu and Kashmir were suspended 32 times in 2017, compared to 10 times in 2016

As previously noted, prominent human rights defender Khurram Parvez was arrested and detained under PSA on 15 September 2016, a day after being prevented from travelling to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Human rights lawyer Kartik Murukutla, who works with Khurram Parvez at JKCCS, was detained at the New Delhi airport immigration desk on 24 September 2016 on his return from Geneva after attending the same Council session; he was informed that there was a “look out” notice in his name which he alleges is a form of intimidation and reprisal against him for his engagement with the international human rights mechanisms

Kashmiri photojournalist Kamran Yousuf was arrested on 5 September 2017 and charged with sedition for allegedly being involved in a “conspiracy against the nation”. In its
special court in New Delhi, the National Investigative Agency accused Kamran Yusuf of being involved in “several stone-pelting incidents”, using as primary evidence that his mobile
number was “persistently located at places where counter-terrorist operations were in progress”. The Agency argued that Kamran Yusuf was not a “real journalist” as he has
not received “any formal training”, only covers “anti-national events” and has never covered the government’s development work.251 He was released on bail on 12 March 2018

French journalist and documentary film-maker Paul Comiti was arrested on 9 December 2017 in Srinagar for allegedly violating Indian visa conditions. The FIR argued that he had violated his business visa conditions by meeting pro-independence leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and filming an event related to people injured by pellet-firing shotguns.253 Paul Comiti was released on bail on 13 December 2017

Widespread protests, long periods of curfew and frequent strikes in 2016 and 2017 had a cumulative impact on students and their right to education. A media investigation claimed that schools and colleges were closed for nearly 60 per cent of the working days between July 2016 and May 2017.

The report of the United Nations Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict for 2017 referred to at least 30 schools burned and partially destroyed by armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016  In addition, government reports confirmed the military use of four schools by security forces in that region for several weeks.267 According to one civil society report, central police forces occupied at least seven schools in the Kashmir Valley between August and November 2016.

According to survivors278 and a local administration official279, on the night of 23 February 1991, soldiers from the 4 Rajputana Rifles regiment of the Indian Army gang-raped around 23 women of Kunan and Poshpora villages of Kupwara district. The Indian Army and Government of India have denied the allegations. In 1991, Wajahat Habibullah, who at the time was the divisional commissioner of the Kashmir region (a civil service position), filed a report with the state government addressing these allegations. In March 1991, former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Mufti Bahauddin Farooqi led a fact-finding team that interviewed several survivors; he reportedly noted that “he had never seen a case in which normal investigative procedures were ignored as they were in this one”.The Jammu and Kashmir Police stopped its investigations by October 1991 after it declared the case was “untraceable”.In July 2013, Wajahat Habibullah accused the state authorities of deleting
parts of the report where he had recommended a higher level investigation and a special order
to ensure army cooperation.

Kunan-Poshpora mass rape, which took place 27 years ago and for which attempts to seek justice have been denied and blocked over the years by the authorities at different levels.

Survivors and human rights groups have campaigned for an independent investigation into this case for many years. In October 2011, SHRC directed the state government to reopen and re investigate the case and to prosecute a senior official whom it accused of deliberately obstructing the investigation. On 18 July 2013, a court in Kupwara district ordered the state police to re investigate the case within three months. When no progress was made despite these orders, five survivors filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in October 2013. In July 2014, the High Court reportedly said the 2011 SHRC recommendations were supported by evidence and asked the state government to consider paying monetary compensation within three months.  The state government has challenged this order in the Supreme Court of India.

Since the late 1980s, a variety of armed groups has been actively operating in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and there has been documented evidence of these groups committing a wide range of human rights abuses, including kidnappings, killings of civilians and sexual violence.298 The landscape of armed intervention by groups operating in Indian Administered Kashmir has shifted over the years. In the 1990s, around a dozen significant armed groups were operating in the region; currently, less than half that number remain active. The main groups today include Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Harakat Ul-Mujahidin; they are believed to be based in Pakistan Administered Kashmir.300 Hizbul Mujahideen is also part of the United Jihad Council, which began as a coalition of 14 armed groups in 1994, claiming to be fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, that was allegedly formed by Pakistan’s defence establishment. Despite the Government of Pakistan’s assertions of denial of any support to these groups, experts believe that Pakistan’s military continues to support their operations across the Line of Control in Indian-Administered Kashmir. Three of these armed groups (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-eMohammed and Harakat Ul-Mujahidin) are listed on the Security Council “ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List”303 for their activities in Indian-Administered Kashmir among other places.

According to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, around 62,000 Kashmiri Pandit families live outside Kashmir and primarily  left because of “disturbed conditions prevailing in the [Kashmir] valley during 1989-90”. Other estimates of the number of displaced Kashmiri Pandit families vary.

A 2008 Jammu and Kashmir Police report stated that 209 Pandits had been killed since 1989. In December 2017, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs told the Parliament that according to state government figures, 174 Kashmiri Pandits had been killed by armed groups.

Pakistan-Administered Kashmir comprises two administrative regions: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). In 1948, UNCIP acknowledged the existence
of “local authorities” (as distinct from the Government of Pakistan) on the Pakistani side of the ceasefire line in Jammu and Kashmir. These two administrative regions have remained
distinct “territories” since then and have not been formally incorporated into Pakistan as they are considered to be part of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir.

AJK officially has a parliamentary system with a prime minister, an autonomous government, and a president as the constitutional head of state, but it has been effectively controlled by the Government of Pakistan throughout its entire history. The “Azad Jammu and Kashmir Adaptation of Laws Act, 1988” adapts and enforces several Pakistani laws in AJK. Although most Pakistani laws are applied in AJK, AJK sends no delegates to the National Assembly of Pakistan. This position was denounced in the 2007 report of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs Rapporteur which noted Pakistan’s failure to fulfill its obligations to introduce meaningful and representative democratic structures in AJK.

“When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State.” Constitution of Pakistan, Article 257.

Known as the Northern Areas until 2009, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is another part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which was on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control in 1949. Under the 1949 Karachi Agreement between the Government of Pakistan and representatives of AJK and the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, Pakistan’s administrative control over the Northern Areas was ratified. However, the Northern Areas was neither incorporated into Pakistan, nor was it given notional autonomy like AJK. In 1999, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed Islamabad to extend fundamental freedoms to the Northern Areas within six months. The EU Parliament Rapporteur’s report in August 2007 identified “a total absence of constitutional identity or civil rights… people are kept in poverty, illiteracy and backwardness.”When Pakistani authorities promulgated the GilgitBaltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, the Government of Pakistan reportedly argued that this would establish full internal autonomy.

G-B’s highest court, the Supreme Appellate Court, does not have powers to act under suo moto jurisdiction unlike the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The interim constitution of AJK has placed several restrictions on anyone criticizing AJK’s accession to Pakistan

It explicitly states, “[N]o person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan.” The AJK electoral law expands on this, disqualifying anyone running for elected office for propagating any opinion or acting contrary to “the ideology of the State’s
accession to Pakistan.”  No person can be appointed to a government position unless they take an oath of office, which includes that they “will remain loyal to the country and the cause
of accession of the state of Jammu & Kashmir to Pakistan.”

Human rights groups report that publishers of books or periodicals are also required to make a declaration of loyalty to accession to Pakistan

The Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 imposes similar restrictions on freedom of expression and association of people under its jurisdiction. Article
9(2) under the fundamental rights section states, “No person or political party in the area comprising Gilgit-Baltistan shall propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or
detrimental to the ideology of Pakistan.

Media organizations reportedly need permission from Pakistan’s Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan to operate in AJK and G-B

In October 2016, authorities in GB arrested journalist Daulat Jan Mathal on anti-terrorism charges because the publications he edited supported national autonomy for G-B.353 He is accused of “damaging the solidarity and integrity of Pakistan” by publishing material supporting the Balawaristan National Front, a local nationalist party

HRCP found that “hundreds of individuals” had been imprisoned under the ATA in GB, and it was being used to target locals who have been raising issues related to the “rights of the people”

Anti-Terrorism Act  - According to HRCP, several political activists, especially from the Awami Workers Party, have been arrested and charged under the ATA. G-B residents told HRCP that the
ATA has been used against people who have been protesting the acquisition of their lands for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project without receiving any resettlement or compensation.364 Prominent political activist Baba Jan was arrested and charged with 11 other protesters under the ATA for their environmental activism. All 12 activists were sentenced to life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court in September 2011. They were then acquitted by G-B’s Chief Court on 9 April 2015. However, on 9 June 2016, G-B’s Supreme Appellate Court upheld their life-sentences. After his acquittal in April 2015, Baba Jan had filed nomination papers for a local election that pitted him against G-B Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan’s son Salim Khan. The election was cancelled and an appeal against his acquittal was immediately accepted, thereby rendering him ineligible for
contesting elections.

Recommendations -

This report highlights the wide range of ongoing serious human rights violations and patterns of impunity in Indian-Administered Kashmir particularly from July 2016 to April 2018. It also raises significant human rights concerns in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir.

The Governments of India and Pakistan should immediately cease all shelling and firing along the Line of Control and Working Boundary and do all that is reasonable to ensure that the rights of civilians living in these areas are respected and protected.

For Indian and Pakistan -

There are many recommendations but most important one is Fully respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law.

Reality views by sm -

Saturday, June 16, 218

Tags – Kashmir Human Rights First Report


Kirtivasan Ganesan June 19, 2018  

Indian army men are also human What about their rights?
Many army men have been beheaded and tortured.