Occupying forces continue atrocities in Kashmir, says think tank

Report says Indian authorities continue to commit grave human rights violations in kashmir.

A think-tank in a report has described in details the atrocities and blatant human rights violations committed by the Indian forces in Kashmir.

 It said in July 2023, Indian authorities continued to commit grave human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir (IAK). Indian forces killed at least twelve people in IAK, including an infant Rohingya refugee. The Jammu and Kashmir administration continued to crack down on free expression, including by continuing to terminate public sector employees who purportedly hold dissenting or disfavored views and eliminating celebrated Kashmiri literature from university curricula.

The administration also continued to target human rights defenders and dissenters in IAK, including through the cancellation of passports. The administration continued to escalate forced demographic change in the region, including through the announced distribution of public land to 199,000 people.

 Numerous Kashmiri journalists, human rights defenders, political activists and dissenters continue to be arbitrarily detained. Indian authorities continue to use the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) as tools for persecution, including through preventative, prolonged and repeated detentions. In a case emblematic of the repression of Kashmiri journalists, Aasif Sultan, arbitrarily detained on August 27, 2018, remains illegally imprisoned. As of the date of this publication, Sultan has been detained for 1,814 days.

In a case emblematic of the repression of Kashmiri human rights defenders and civil society, Khurram Parvez, arbitrarily detained on November 22, 2021, remains illegally imprisoned in a maximum-security facility in New Delhi. As of the date of this publication, Parvez has been detained for 631 days. Due to ongoing repression by Indian authorities, key developments in the human rights situation in IAK have likely gone unreported.

Violations of right to life and excessive use of force

At least 11 people were extrajudicially killed by Indian forces near the LOC in July 2023. On July 11, 2023, the Indian army killed one unnamed, alleged “terrorist” along the LOC in Nowshera, Rajouri district. On July 17, 2023, the Indian army and Jammu & Kashmir police killed two unnamed, alleged “infiltrators” along the LOC in the Poonch district. On July 18, 2023, Indian forces killed four unnamed, alleged “militants” and two unnamed, alleged “infiltrators” in Krishna Ghati, Poonch district.

On the night of July 24, 2023, Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) killed an individual who they alleged was a smuggler near the LOC in the Ramgarh sector. On the night of July 30, 2023, the BSF killed an alleged “intruder” near the LOC in the Arnia sector.

Indian authorities assaulted Rohingya refugees and killed Rohingya infant in IAK Approximately 271 Rohingya refugees are arbitrarily detained by Indian authorities in Hiranagar jail in Jammu. Dozens of Rohingya detainees recently participated in a hunger strike and protest against the conditions of their detention and to demand their release. Indian officials responded by assaulting and tear-gassing protestors. On July 20, 2023, Indian officials handed the corpse of a 43-day old Rohingya infant to relatives. The infant, the child of two Rohingya detainees, was killed through the inhalation of tear-gas and Indian authorities’ failure to provide adequate medical treatment. The bereaved parents, who hold valid UN refugee cards, remained handcuffed at their baby’s funeral.

The Indian military deployed new “counter-insurgency” commando forces in Kashmir Infrastructure to further enhance Indian militarization in IAK neared completion. The Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), an elite “counter-insurgency” commando force has been deployed for “counter-terrorism” operations in IAK. They are being trained in urban and rural warfare and the Kashmiri language. IAK is the most intensely militarized region in the world in which militarization and legal impunity have resulted in widespread, grave human rights violations over decades. Periodic escalations of troops typically result in escalations in grave human rights violations.

The Chenab Rail Bridge will further facilitate India’s military occupation of and the movement of Indian troops and supplies into IAK. A former commander of the Indian army called it “a real game changer for…military capability.” The BJP has long celebrated the bridge as critical for promoting “national integration,” by which they mean the denial of the rights of the people of IAK, the disempowerment and marginalization of the region’s Muslims and their domination by non-local Hindus.

In addition to furthering violations of their social and political rights and increasing risks of grave violations associated with militarization, the Chenab Rail Bridge has resulted in various other violations of locals’ rights, including loss of agricultural land, loss of economic opportunity, loss of way of life, forced displacement, destruction of property, destruction of the environment, deforestation, erosion, biodiversity loss, physical insecurity consequential to flood and geotechnical/earthquake risk, exacerbation of water stress and lack of compensation/lack of access to justice.

Violations of right to freedom of expression

Fourteen Kashmiris were arrested for not standing for the Indian national anthem observations of Martyrs’ Day were not permitted in IAK. On July 6, 2023, fourteen people were arrested for not standing during the national anthem at an official event in Srinagar. The individuals were sent to Central Jail, Srinagar.

Since 2019, Kashmiris have been forcibly prevented from commemorating Martyrs’ Day on July 13, the major public remembrance of the longstanding pro-democracy, pro-rights struggle in Jammu & Kashmir and of those who have lost their lives in that struggle.

On July 13, 2023, even Indian-client politicians continued to be prevented from commemorating the day. The July 13 holiday has been commemorated since 1931 in Jammu & Kashmir, when 22 people were killed outside of Central Jail, Srinagar protesting the authoritarian, Hindu supremacist repression of the Hari Singh regime. After decades of repression and resistance, the July 13, 1931 massacre was a politically critical one in a series of mass mobilizations and massacres in Jammu & Kashmir, leading to Hari Singh’s regime being pressured into allowing the majority, marginalized and disenfranchised Muslim population to organize a formal political party.

As part of its ongoing, accelerating project of erasing and rewriting Kashmiri history, Indian authorities canceled the Martyrs’ Day holiday in January 2020 and replaced the holiday with a new holiday commemorating the birthday of the autocratic, feudal, Hindu supremacist ruler responsible for the July 13 massacre, Hari Singh.

Jammu & Kashmir administration terminated three more public sector employees for allegedly being a “threat to the security of the state”. On July 16, 2023, the administration terminated Faheem Aslam, Murawath Hussain Mir and Arshid Ahmed Thoker. Aslam was the public relations officer of the University of Kashmir, Mir was a revenue officer and Thoker was a police constable.

In the last few years, at least 52 people have been terminated from public sector jobs in IAK, including several earlier this year and two prominent physician human rights defenders last month. In each case, these terminations occur without due process or meaningful recourse. They are part of a systematic campaign targeting people suspected of holding dissenting or disfavored views, even if the disfavored sentiment is allegedly held by relatives or associates.

In IAK, the government is the largest employer, and public sector employment is widely sought as economically rewarding and prestigious. For many Kashmiris, public sector employment is the only viable opportunity to work in the field for which they are qualified. Indian officials threatened to ban YouTube channel for using a map that did not show Kashmir as India.

Indian officials threatened to ban Engineering Facts, an Indian YouTube channel, for incidentally showing a map of India that did not show Kashmir as part of India in a video about hydrogen fuel. Indian filmmakers flocked to Kashmir in support of Indian government’s production of disinformation regarding IAK

 Pursuant to a new 2021 film policy, the Indian government provides expedited permissions and other incentives to filmmakers who shoot in Kashmir. In order to obtain such incentives, filmmakers must officially declare that their film will not include any inappropriate material, such as “false claims” about Kashmir or “defamation” of India, as judged by Indian officials. In India, filmmakers must submit their script or screenplay for official review. Films judged to promote the feeling of “One Nation, Best Nation.”


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