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Kashmir Project

The use of excessive force in India has plagued the country’s human rights record for decades. Police officials have used real and rubber bullets during protests, participated in beatings, used electric shocks and water boarding in their attempt to solicit information, and engaged in acts of sexual abuse. With the escalation of conflict in the region of Kashmir, such brutalities have hardly ceased in recent years. Worse yet the victims were civilians. The violence inflicted upon those who are taken into official custody is also a big issue, one that is further exacerbated by the lack of appropriate access to medical care and supervision.

While Indian authorities continue to play the blame game and deny that physical harm is regularly sustained by civilians and detainees, case after case continues to make its way into the attention and consciousness of the international community. In 2012, Sajad Ahmad Dar, was held in a Kupwara jail for two months, where he did not receive medical treatment that he clearly needed. He died as a result of the lack of attention by a medical professional, which was confirmed in the coroner’s report, but the case has not been taken up by the authorities and the officers responsible for his treatment while in custody do not face any repercussions. This situation is hardly unique and what is more worrisome is that even after the intervention of international observers and non-governmental organisations, instances of maltreatment while in custody continue.

As a signatory of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, India is obliged to take measures to prevent the use of torture and excessive force within its borders and the contested area of Kashmir. Yet even though the country signed the Convention in October 1997, it has still not been ratified and accusations of torture continue. Until the Indian government provides clear definitions of torture and provisions on how to deal with such instances, it remains in limbo and continues infringing on basic human rights.

Torture while in custody

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) continues to receive reports of abuse cases sustained by detained individuals, annually totalling well over a thousand instances. Annually, nearly one hundred of these result in ‘unnatural’ deaths for those held in judicial custody. To add to the problem, claims of secret detention centres are consistently reported to the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), three of which are said to be in Jammu and Kashmir. These undercover institutions may explain how the NHRC managed to get away with registering only six official deaths in police custody in Kashmir since 2000.

The majority of confirmed deaths in police custody occur within 48 hours from the time the detainee was first taken in, leading to the assumption that these were the result of torture inflicted upon them by officials.  In 2011, Mudassir Bashir Shah, a 22-year-old was detained for 14 days at a Special Operations camp.  His family claims that it was here that he was first beaten by police authorities, before being transferred to the Sopore police station, where he was detained for a further six months before being released. Upon his release, the man claimed that police had forced him to write an admission and an apology for the stone-pelting that contributed to his original arrest, presumably again under the threat of violence. He was then arrested again for a further five months before his detention order was dismissed.

The Indian government conveniently ignores accusations of beatings and arbitrary repeated arrests, much in the same way it has dodged questioning into the matter by international human rights organisations. The lack of appropriate retributions and prevention mechanisms for instances of torture in police custody, create the illusion that the government is comfortable turning a blind eye. The culture of torture thus becomes endemic to the judicial and police systems of India, a matter that cannot be resolved until the Indian government admits to its past and present crimes, firmly resolving to improve the situation in the future.

Ratification of the UN’s Torture Bill

The enactment of the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 has not done enough to curb instances of torture and excessive force. Though considered by Indian authorities as a step toward the ratification of the UN’s Torture Convention, the Bill does not provide a comprehensive definition of what constitutes torture and suggests that excessive force would still be acceptable in some situations, without actually specifying what these situations may be.

Section 3 states:

“Whoever, being a public servant or being abetted by a public servant or with the consent or acquiescence of a public servant, intentionally does any act for the purposes to obtain from him or a third person such information or a confession which causes grievous hurt to any person or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of any person, is said to inflict torture provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply to any pain, hurt or danger as aforementioned caused by an act, which is inflicted in accordance with any procedure established by law or justified by law.”

The Bill serves as a justification for the Indian government to not pursue torture perpetrators when it is not convenient for them and allows officials to hide from justice. IHRAAM finds such exceptions to be unacceptable and in complete infringement of the stipulations of the Torture Convention and international norms. Clear cut definitions must be made to ensure that victims and perpetrators see justice served.

IHRAAM further calls on the Indian government to carry out independent and impartial investigations of all accusations of abuses that are made against detainees or threats made against their families. Detainees should not have to fear violence of a physical, sexual or mental nature while in custody and should be eligible for the receipt of adequate medical care. If infringements do occur, findings have to be made public and those in the authorities with involvement must be held accountable for their ill-treatment of detainees.

The Indian government is also urged to co-operate with international authorities and IHRAAM encourages authorities to accept visits from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. This is a critical step for the monitoring of infringements and ensuring that detainees are free from threat and their personal safety is maintained while in custody. IHRAAM beckons for the appropriate legal and investigative action to be taken in cases where the treatment of detainees is under question – whether this is because of accusations of torture, ill-treatment, restrictions of medical care or forced admission – in a timely and transparent manner.

Published in HRC22

International Council for Human Rights - Kashmir Project (ICHR-KP) is profoundly dismayed by the Indian Forces denial of the religious rites of the people of Kashmir by not allowing them to go to Friday Prayers.

Barrister A. Majid Tramboo, Chairman of ICHR-KP denounced India for "religious intolerance" and "assault on religious freedom." He added that  "India presents itself to the world as the largest democracy. However, the truth is that India behaves like an authoritarian in Kashmir and today practices religious discrimination and denies Kashmiris basic religious freedom." He denounced the Indian justifications for denying thousands of Kashmiris access to major mosques of the territory including the Central Jamia Masjid of Srinagar. 

Barrister Tramboo recalled Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” He concluded “Clearly, India is in contravention of this international obligation, as usual.”

Published in Latest News

“Human rights education should include peace, democracy, development and social justice, as set forth in international and regional human rights instruments, in order to achieve common understanding and awareness with a view to strengthening universal commitment to human rights."

Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (June 1993)

 

The International Council for Human Rights - Kashmir Project (ICHR-KP) observes the World Day of Social Justice by drawing the world’s attention to the injustices faced by the people of Kashmir for more than six decades. 

Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. The principles of social justice are upheld when gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants are promoted. 

ICHR endorses that for the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of their global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice.

Barrister A. Majid Tramboo, Chairman of ICHR - KP emphasised that “The Kashmir scenario offers some unique challenges along with six decades of protracted injustice while at the same time facing many of the hurdles that are faced elsewhere” 

He questioned that “With torture, arbitrary detention, arbitrary arrest, extra-judicial execution, sexual violence commonplace and the high military and paramilitary presence what future there can be for social justice in Kashmir?”

Barrister Tramboo concluded that “There can be no justice for the people of Kashmir without achieving their right to self-determination.”

Published in Latest News
Friday, 22 February 2013 00:00

Remembering the Victims of Kunan Poshpora

International Council for Human Rights - Kashmir Project (ICHR-KP) sadly remembers Kunan Poshpora mass raping by units of the Indian forces occurred on February 23, 1991, in Kashmir's Kupwara District. An entire village of men were removed to a distant field while their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters were brutally raped by the Indian army. A 13-year old girl was raped. An 80-year-old woman was raped. Even a full-term pregnant woman was raped and lost her baby. In all, 100 women were raped in this Kashmir village in one night. No one in India, relatively speaking, knows about what happened in Kashmir on a much larger and more brutal scale, with tacit sanctioning of the Indian Government

ICHR-KP expresses solidarity with the victims of the Kunan Poshpora.

Barrister A. Majid Tramboo deplores that “the culprits of gang rape in Kunan Poshpora have not been brought to justice  and no compensation has been afforded to the victims despite the passage of more than twenty years.” He added that “The Shopian rape and murder of two young women is an example as how the Indian military and para-military forces are operating in Kashmir.”

Barrister Tramboo declared that “It is about time that such gross human rights violations must be brought into the limelight on the international level and this is precisely what ICHR-KP has embarked upon.”

Published in Latest News

Nazeera Akhtar, a 55-year-old woman died when infamous armed personnel of Indian Special Task Force harassed a family during house raid in Kulgam village, Indian Held Kashmir. 

 

Indian Police said Nazeera Akhtar suffered a cardiac arrest at her house in Cheddar, as she opened the door for a raiding party of 4 Rashtriya Rifles and Special Operations Group of the police. However, local residents say that Akhtar was slapped in the face and subsequently suffered a heart attack which led to her death. 

 

Following the execution of Afzal Guru last week, indiscriminate raids by the Indian military and para-military forces on Kashmiri families has become a daily routine. Four people have been killed during protests all over Kashmir, one of them a pregnant woman who was denied access to hospital. Right to protest against an illegal act is a fundamental right of the people of Kashmir and preventing them for holding protests and demonstrations is in violation of international law. Use of brutal force against the protestors and unlawful raids are gross violations of human rights and is considered by many to be a war crime as inflicted in Indian held Kashmir.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO:

 

Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister of India

South Block, Gate No 6

New Delhi - 110 01, India

Fax: +91 11 301 67810

 

Sushilkumar Shinde

Ministry of Home Affairs, 

North Block, Central Secretariat
New Delhi - 110 001. India

Fax: +91 11 230 93750

 

Salman Khurshid

Foreign Minister of India
13, Talkatora Road, New Delhi-110001, India
Fax: +91 11 237 37623

 

Ban Ki-moon

Secretary General
United Nations

New York, 10017, USA

Fax: +1 212 963 4879

 

Navanethem Pillay

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais Wilson , 52 rue des Pâquis 

CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

Fax: +41 22 917 90 00

 

Christof Heyns

Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (OHCHR) 

Palais des Nations 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Fax: +41 22 917 90 00

 

Catherine Ashton

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Rue de la Loi 200

B-1049, Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 298 1290

 

Barbara LOCHBIHLER MEP

Chairwoman, Sub-Committee on Human Rights

Bât. Altiero Spinelli, 08G130

60, rue Wiertz

B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 284 9364

 

James Elles MEP

Chairman, All Party Group for Kashmir

Bât. Altiero Spinelli, 13E107

60, rue Wiertz

B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 284 9951

 

Graham Watson MEP

Chairman, Delegation for relations with India

Bât. Altiero Spinelli, 13G351

60, rue Wiertz

B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 284 9125

 

Charles Tannock MEP

Chairman, Friends of India

Bât. Altiero Spinelli, 14E103

60, rue Wiertz 

B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 284 9870

 

BACKGROUND

Since January 1990 there has been a genuine and popular uprising in Jammu & Kashmir for the fulfillment of the promise about the rights of self-determination made by the government of India not only at international level through the United Nations but also through it’s own constitution (under article 253).  The Indian government has responded to the demand for the right to self-determination by the Kashmiri people with an iron fist.  Enforced Disappearances, Torture, Extra-Judicial Execution, Arbitrary Arrest and Rape are common place.  The PSA is one of many laws that have been put in place by the Indian government in Kashmir.  Under this law anybody can be arrested and held for up to two years without trial often moved a considerable distance from their families. Frequently people are re-arrested as soon as they are released after the maximum two year term; often at the prison gates.

 

Thousands of cases of human rights abuses have been lodged at the UN and well over 90,000 deaths have been recorded by credible NGOs since the beginning of the 1990’s. There are 8000 missing person and the European Parliament passed an emergency resolution in July 2008 on nameless and mass graves of Kashmir.

 

 

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.  THE NAME OF ICHR CAN BE MENTIONED; HOWEVER LETTERS WRITTEN IN  A PRIVATE AND PERSONAL CAPACITY MAY BE MORE EFFECTIVE.  PLEASE STRESS THAT YOUR CONCERN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IS NOT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED BUT THAT IT IS BASED THE RIGHTS ENSHRINED IN THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WHICH GRANTS THE RIGHTS TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND SECURITY, DISALLOWING TORTURE AND ARBITRARY DETENTION AND THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND PEACEFUL ASSOCIATION.

 

Published in Urgent Actions

Fifteen-year Umar Farooq Shaikh, a student in Jammu & Kashmir, northern India, has been in detention for almost a year under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

 

This is despite a recent amendment to the legislation which makes it illegal for anyone under 18 years old to be detained under the act.

 

Umar Farooq Shaikh ’s family said that on 3 February he was taken to the Zukura police station and later moved to Sheegari police station, both in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir state. A few days later, the family learnt that he had been charged with having committed several offences during violent protests over the last two years. The charges included rioting, rioting armed with deadly weapons, assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty and public singing of obscene songs.

 

A local court ordered his release on bail on 27 February, but he continued to be held. On 29 March, his  detention was extended under a PSA order and he was transferred to Udhampur district jail in Jammu, 207 km away, where he continues to be held. This is despite an amendment to the PSA on 18 April which prohibits the detention of anyone under 18 year olds under the act.

 

The PSA detention order accuses him of involvement in “anti-social activity aimed at disturbing public peace and tranquillity” and “acts aimed at keeping the state on boil and thereby bringing about secession of Jammu & Kashmir from India” but does not explain the specific offences he is suspected of having committed. It refers to the February charges but fails to mention also the 27 February court order to release him on bail. A petition filed by his family challenging his order is now pending before a local court.

 

Please write immediately in English or your own language:

  • Demanding that the state authorities immediately end the administrative detention under the PSA of Umar Farooq Shaikh;
  • Urging that if Umar Farooq Shaikh is to be held on charges of a recognizably criminal offence, he be afforded all fair trial guarantees set out in international law and specifically the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by India. This Convention stipulates that any detention shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time; such detention should be in a separate facility for children, as close as possible to his family in order to facilitate family contact.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO:

 

Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister of India

South Block, Gate No 6

New Delhi - 110 01, India

Fax: +91 11 301 67810

 

Sushilkumar Shinde

Ministry of Home Affairs, 

North Block, Central Secretariat
New Delhi - 110 001. India

Fax: +91 11 230 93750

 

Salman Khurshid

Foreign Minister of India
13, Talkatora Road, New Delhi-110001, India
Fax: +91 11 237 37623

 

Ban Ki-moon

Secretary General
United Nations

New York, 10017, USA

Fax: +1 212 963 4879

 

Navanethem Pillay

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais Wilson , 52 rue des Pâquis 

CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

Fax: +41 22 917 90 00

 

Christof Heyns

Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (OHCHR) 

Palais des Nations 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Fax: +41 22 917 90 00

 

Catherine Ashton

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Rue de la Loi 200

B-1049, Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 298 1290

 

Barbara LOCHBIHLER MEP

Chairwoman, Sub-Committee on Human Rights

Bât. Altiero Spinelli, 08G130

60, rue Wiertz

B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 284 9364

 

James Elles MEP

Chairman, All Party Group for Kashmir

Bât. Altiero Spinelli, 13E107

60, rue Wiertz

B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 284 9951

 

Graham Watson MEP

Chairman, Delegation for relations with India

Bât. Altiero Spinelli, 13G351

60, rue Wiertz

B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 284 9125

 

Charles Tannock MEP

Chairman, Friends of India

Bât. Altiero Spinelli, 14E103

60, rue Wiertz 

B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

Fax : +32 2 284 9870

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Hundreds of persons have been detained without trial under the provisions of the Public Safety Act (PSA) in Jammu and

Kashmir. A number of them, including children were detained on similar grounds of stone pelting and rioting during various

protests against the Indian authorities throughout the summer of 2010. Repeat detentions are also commonly ordered.

ICHR has been campaigning for the repeal of the PSA. Amendments to the PSA, passed by the Jammu and

Kashmir state assembly on 5 April 2012 prohibiting the detention of those below 18 years of age and reducing the period of

detention from two years to six months, came into effect on 18 April 2012. The Jammu and Kashmir authorities have claimed

that no children are being detained in the state.

 

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.  THE NAME OF ICHR CAN BE MENTIONED; HOWEVER LETTERS WRITTEN IN  A PRIVATE AND PERSONAL CAPACITY MAY BE MORE EFFECTIVE.  PLEASE STRESS THAT YOUR CONCERN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IS NOT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED BUT THAT IT IS BASED THE RIGHTS ENSHRINED IN THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WHICH GRANTS THE RIGHTS TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND SECURITY, DISALLOWING TORTURE AND ARBITRARY DETENTION AND THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND PEACEFUL ASSOCIATION.

 

Published in Urgent Actions
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