Archive for the ‘Violence against Women’ Category

By Amnesty International India

On the 27th anniversary of the rapes of dozens of women in the towns of Kunan and Poshpora, Jammu and Kashmir, in 1991, allegedly by Indian army personnel, Asmita Basu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India, said:

“For 27 years, the lack of accountability for the crimes committed in Kunan and Poshpora has been a festering injustice, and a chilling example of the impunity that surrounds human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Attempts at seeking justice and compensation for the survivors have been blocked by the Jammu and Kashmir state government, the central government and the Indian Army. Five of the victims have died waiting for justice.

“Authorities must ensure a thorough, impartial and effective investigation into the allegations. All suspects, including those with command responsibility, must be prosecuted in a civilian court.”

Previous investigations into the allegations have been ineffective. The J&K police declared that the case was ‘untraceable’ and stopped investigations in October 1991. To date, nobody has been charged or prosecuted in connection to the case.

In October 2011, the J&K State Human Rights Commission directed the state government to compensate victims and re-investigate the allegations. In June 2013, a court in Kupwara district directed the J&K police to investigate the long-standing allegations within three months.

When the investigations proved ineffective, five survivors filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in October 2013. The state government, central government and the Army have since filed multiple petitions in different courts, sometimes simultaneously, and secured temporary orders suspending investigations and the provision of compensation.

Image result for Munaza Gulzar kashmir activist Sarposh Management Service

 SRINAGAR: Activism in Kashmir has usually seen men at the forefront. Women — who are perhaps the biggest victims of the protracted conflict in the valley — have remained on the sidelines, treated as passive victims and confined to the four walls of their home.

In recent years, however, there has been a slow and gradual yet noticeable change, as brave young female voices have emerged from the patriarchal and conservative mindsets and raised their voice against the challenges and difficulties that make up the lives of people in the valley.

Munaza Gulzar: A post graduate gold medalist in social work from the University of Kashmir, Gulzar is a United Kingdom registered social worker. She deals with mental health & child issues with more than 15 years of experience in Kashmir and abroad. Gulzar has exclusively worked on mental health for 4 years. She has also worked for differently-abled people, and vulnerable women groups and their needs.

Munazah has worked in almost every district of the Kashmir region. Currently she runs her own mental health clinic in Srinagar under Sarposh Management Service.

“Activism to me is putting into action a fight against injustice and recognition of rights”, says Gulzar.

Gulzar shifted her career from journalism to social activism the moment she visited Kunan Poshpora rape victims. To her, listening to their narrative was a decisive factor in the shift in profession.

Asked how difficult it is to work in Kashmir, she said, “Conflict affects every aspect of our life. Be it the mental state or a choice of your profession, the regular sense of insecurity prevailing in the state is a very disturbing element”. “Conflict is a major insecurity tracking you all the time. It curbs your freedom making you unable to do justice to your work”, she added.

Kashmir lacks a joint forum for social and political activists. There is no proper process of registration by the system. Activists lack a common platform to speak out as everyone does it at an individual level.

Natasha Rather is a young human rights defender, who currently works as a researcher for the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). She started her activism in 2014 and her work is centred on human rights abuses perpetrated by the Indian state in Kashmir.

Rather is one of the five authors of the book “Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?” which was published as a part of Zubaan Series on ‘Sexual Violence and Impunity in South Asia’.

She has been a part of the campaign seeking justice for the survivors of Kunan Poshpora Mass Rape and Torture case. She is seeking justice for the Handwara girl who was allegedly molested by army personnel in Handwara in April 2016.

She has also helped pellet victims. In 2016, she along with her association ran a campaign against the use of pellet guns which led to blinding of 100s of young people in Kashmir.

She said, “Indian state’s displeasure and dislike for human rights issues to be discussed, curfews, restrictions, Gag on social media and communication, pose obstacles in my work”.

Ather Zia: The Citizen spoke to Ather Zia, a Kashmiri journalist who was formerly with the BBC and is currently an Assistant Professor in Anthropology and Gender Studies Department at University of Northern Colorado, Greeley. She works on militarization, gender, and enforced disappearances in Kashmir.

Asked how conflict poses challenge to the activists here, she said, “The obstacles one faces in a situation like Kashmir is the state surveillance, which impedes mobility, and gathering data”.

She defines an activist to be the one who raises a voice against injustice, and makes sure it is heard and is constantly engaged with the ground, pursuing the cause one has taken up.

A number of people came forward post 2010 and 2016 raising their voice not only on the ground but on social media platforms as well. Some people effortlessly create awareness in the form of poetry, prose and art.

Sabiya Dar joined the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in 2008 when she was in her 12th standard. Dar says she finds a sense of purpose in helping half widows.

She said, “We face too many challenges from the state whenever we try to help them financially, legally, psychologically, medically or even educationally. Now we are used to it and have stopped reacting because we know we have been doing a great work. We feel the pain of the victims and hope for justice. At the end truth prevails”.

There are some individuals and organisations who have helped pellet victims but they want to remain anonymous. Several people told The Citizen that they face constant repercussions from the state and the army. They also said that they do not want these victims to face the wrath of the state, and hence, rather remain under the radar.

Zia, reacting to this reality, said, “Issues such as Human Rights violations are not palatable issue for the government. Many HR defenders prefer being unnamed since it helps them work in anonymity and without being unduly penalized by the state agencies, which can include routine harassment or even incarceration”.

Mehreen Zafar is advocate who works at the lower court in Srinagar and is associated with J&K Right to Information Act Movement. Zafar said that, “Kashmir is a conflict zone and work atmosphere is very difficult. Due to the presence of draconian Laws in the name of AFSPA & PSA, activism becomes more terrible. There is always a fear of getting arrested arbitrarily”.

Farrukh Faheem from the Institute of Kashmir Studies at Kashmir University said that the moment there is a human rights violation, people pour out on the streets to register their protest. They express themselves through graffiti and other means and those who narrate their stories at the cost of their lives and security are activists too.

To Faheem, categorizing an activist becomes difficult in a place like Kashmir which has a history of unrest and uncertainty. He says these new women emerging in Kashmir are indirectly testing the patriarchal norms as well.

Nadiya Shafi, 28, is a community correspondent for ‘Video Volunteers’ which is a media and human rights organization based in Goa. She also runs a few gender discussion clubs in Kashmir under the Dismantle Patriarchy campaign. She started her work in 2010 and has documented more than 200 cases of half-widows and has made more than 100 videos on different social issues.

Shafi has also given financial assistance to several pellet victims, along with her colleagues.

“Conflict has made us and our family vulnerable. It hinders our work. I am not only concerned about myself but also about the people whom I get to meet”, says Shafi.

She says that while documenting the cases of half-widows, she was being closely monitored by the state police and the forces for which her family had to send her to Delhi for a year.

“I was stopped several times in downtown Srinagar during the 2016 unrest. My equipment was confiscated and the footage was deleted,” she said.

She added,” You never know when you are called up by the armed forces. Working in conflict is overall a big challenge. We work under the shadow of guns”.

Facing all the challenges in an uncertain atmosphere, some new faces prefer to work silently while serving people irrespective of faith and belief. These activists have become the voice of the people, trying their best to bring about socio-political changes in the valley. After generations, women are no longer passive victims, but agents of change.

Generation after generation in Kashmir are crushed in slow motion, and the longings of a people are inscribed on the scars and burns of their young.

A man rows his boat in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. Credit: Reuters

I have been visiting Kashmir since my childhood. Over the years, the valley has taught me many hard lessons about the world. With my early trips to Kashmir, the terrain between history and reality blurred. It was the first time I realised that tragedy was not a foreign country. Its proximity was too intimate and too intense for me to ever return home again to that feeling of comfortable distance. I learnt how most of the world’s greatest crimes are executed without fuss in darkness and silence. I learnt that pain can bleed into the most beautiful things and great horrors are inflicted in the name of flags. I discovered that childhood is not always innocent, that news is not always the news, justice is never passive, laws aren’t always intended to protect, just as terrorists are not always terrorists and freedom fighters are not always freedom fighters.

Though I have travelled all over the world, I keep returning to the Valley. Sometimes I ask myself why. In spite of the many forces that vie to possess it, for me Kashmir endures as one of the most wretchedly forsaken places in the world. Though fiercely desired, the people remain monumentally unloved. Perhaps that is why I love the valley so much. Approximately 135 km long and 32 km wide, it is the site of the world’s largest and most intransigent conflicts. There are no exact figures of the dead, but by any account they number in the tens of thousands, whether a low estimate of about 20,000 by the Indian government to around 100,000 by those living there. Thousands are simply missing, many more displaced or exiled. Few know much about the lives of the soft-spoken people that dwell there, where curfews, torture, rape, detention without charge, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and mass graves have simply fallen into a way of life. In Kashmir, there are no hydrocarbons or diamonds buried in the soil, just roses and apple trees. And corpses.

Over the years, I have experienced the curfews, the checkpoints and the garrisoned townships. I have seen the entrails of orphanages, the countless fatherless children and the crippled bodies. I have found myself inadvertently sipping tea in national conferences observing every Kashmiri in the room silent whilst the Indian national anthem was sung. I have watched paid crowds come for staged political rallies and disperse as soon as the broadcast was over. I have seen the broken glass and bombed-out homes rotting in urban wasteland, whilst army abodes luxuriate on the choicest of locations. I have travelled behind military convoys and had my taxi battered by the batons of men riding tanks. I have spent time with the youth, played basketball with teenagers and listened to the way they speak of the artillery fire in the distance and their catalogue of beatings. I have consoled a boy whose best friend bled to death in his arms. Over and again, I have watched an entire population supplicate to men in uniform. In all of these occasions, I have seen no shred of love for the people that reside in the Valley’s folds. In fact, I have never seen such an unloved population, where the reach of compassion evades even the infant, the elderly and society’s most vulnerable.

It is for this reason that when I think of Kashmir, I do not think of polemics between good and evil. I do not think of India and Pakistan. It is of no consequence to me whether Kashmir falls under the aegis of one flag or another, or whether it gains independence. I do not see politics. I see real people and real suffering. I see the orphans and the bullet-riddled bodies of children. I see the sad eyes of wailing mothers. I see the taciturn teenagers watching, remembering. I see generation after generation being relentlessly crushed in slow motion. Somewhere even now a child is being silently broken. The longings of a people are inscribed on the scars and burns of their young.


In the last couple of weeks, almost sixty more fledgling lives were cut short by violence, with hundreds more children permanently blinded by bullets, among them a five year old boy. All this because the life of another youth was extinguished. Lest it be forgotten, 22-year-old Burhan Wani – whose death was recently celebrated in India as the vanquishing of a terrorist, despite there being no official record of him ever launching an armed attack – chose to confront the army on social media as a direct result of personal persecution by the security forces as a child. For the hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris who took to the streets to join his funeral procession, Wani was David against Goliath, the young cricketing teenager who dared, bare-face, to take on the might of one of the most powerful militaries in the world, knowing full well his trajectory would entail the ultimate sacrifice. In response to the popular mass uprising that took hold of the valley following his death, the government imposed an indefinite curfew with shoot to kill orders for any who defied it, shut down the printing press and switched off the phone lines. This summer in Kashmir, there will be no wedding songs as a people continue to mourn their dead.

At a certain point, aloofness gives over to complicity and becomes a wrong. There is a point when witnessing is no longer an option and one must speak up. The heart grows heavy with the lack of love. It is for this reason that I am writing. But what can you say for a people so comprehensively ignored and misappropriated? When their lives are played out for sport and their stories are constantly misrepresented? When their protests are lethally quelled? When their children are butchered in daylight, and their guardians have turned aggressors?  When there is so little compassion around them?

Come to the valley.

Come to the valley. I do not care what caste or creed you belong to. It does not matter to me if you wear a veil, turban or vermillion on your head. It does not matter if your freedom is painted in emerald, saffron or another colour, only come to the valley. Come to Kashmir.  Come with your open souls. Come with your videos, cameras and pens. Go deeper than the Polaroid shikaras and the colourful picnic spots. Go off the beaten track into the townships, the hamlets and the villages. Go into the homes. Talk to the people. See their lives. Touch their flesh. Bury their dead. Feel as they do. Go deep, deep into their hearts. Witness their pain. Come wherever you are. It is not too late to find all that has been lost. Come to the valley of love. Empathy is the most we can hope for. Perhaps one day before it is too late enough hearts that can make a difference will learn to feel the same.

Shama Naqushbandi, is a British author, her first novel is The White House, winner of ‘Best Novel’, Brit Writers Awards (

Jameela and her husband Abdul Rashid Khan (60) were drinking tea in their kitchen when they heard CRPF personnel chasing youths outside their house, located near the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | Srinagar |

Srinagar: Nurses and paramedics hold placards and shout slogans during a protest rally against the killing of 55 civilians and use of pellet guns by forces, outside SMHS Hospital in Srinagar on Monday. PTI Photo (PTI8_8_2016_000199A)Nurses and paramedics hold placards and shout slogans during a protest rally against the killing of 55 civilians and use of pellet guns by forces, outside SMHS Hospital in Srinagar on Monday. (Source: PTI)A 55-year-old woman died of a cardiac arrest at Bemina in Kashmir after a CRPF personnel allegedly trained his gun at her on Thursday evening.

Jameela and her husband Abdul Rashid Khan (60) were drinking tea in their kitchen when they heard CRPF personnel chasing youths outside their house, located near the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

On hearing the smashing of window panes, Jameela rushed upstairs. “When she looked through the broken windowpane, a CRPF man pointed his gun towards her. She collapsed right there,” Khan told The Indian Express. She was rushed to a hospital where she was declared “brought dead”.


A CRPF spokesperson said stone pelting was going on in the area when the woman died. “She (Jameela) died of cardiac arrest. It has become fashionable for people to blame the CRPF for everything,” he said.

The elderly couple have two daughters, both of whom are married. Khan suffers from diabetes and urinary problems. “She would take me to the hospital and also give me medicine on time,” said Khan, breaking down.

Khan sells blankets and has also rented out two rooms in his house. “He does not have any support now,” a neighbour said. Local residents accused personnel of a nearby CRPF camp of attacking their houses whenever any protest took place on the highway.

Guest Post by SONAM MITTAL

To understand why Kashmir is a feminist issue, let’s take up a hypothetical, or not-really-so-hypothetical-after-all, situation of an abusive relationship.
A woman, gorgeous, graceful and delicate is in need of rescue. A man, mighty, strong and resourceful, offers to help. His only condition is that she should be his and only his for now and forever. She agrees.
It could have been the beginning of a beautiful love story if not for the underlying patriarchy and misogyny threatening to burst out. All it needed was an excuse. See, this woman had an acquaintance, a friend, with whom she had shared a part of her life. Her culture, her values and various elements that added to her charm were influenced by this friend. One fine day, this friend returned to lay claim on her. The man got angry, quite obviously. Fists and punches were thrown around and all three parties were badly hurt. Several grudges were adopted and nursed. Days went by but the memory of this brutality never faded away.
The man started placing restrictions on the woman. For her safety, obviously. Silly girl, he said, what if ‘your friend’ comes back again?
Then came in the taunts and verbal attacks. Are you really mine? Is this how you repay the help I gave you? Is this how you behave for sharing my life? Am sure you must have done something to provoke him and make him feel like he owns you.
The neighbors started talking and debating on who had a rightful claim on her. Nobody asked her what she wanted.
Day by day, the atrocities committed by the man, under the garb of protecting her, became unbearable. It was cruel enough that she had suffered many wounds on her body, some which were still hurting. The man would keep poking her, pinching and questioning her. Every action taken only for her ‘protection.’ It was almost as if he gained some perverse pleasure from her torture, knowing that no one can question him.
 Some people noticed her wounds and started questioning the man. It’s nothing, he said. Don’t worry about it, her safety is my priority. She is an integral part of my life. It’s hurtful that you’d question and think that I don’t care about her. Do you remember how I bled trying to save her from that friend?
The torture continued. She had slowly started protesting, saying, No! stop this, I don’t want this any more.
SMACK. You anti-national!
The slap rang hard across her face. It was insulting, but she bore it silently. Her movements were restricted.
We will have to put you under a curfew, he said. The virus of anti-nationals is breeding on you like ticks on a stinky dog.
The neighbors started talking again. Why is she under curfew? What was her crime? Again, nobody asked her what she wanted from all this debacle.
The man started guarding her at all times. How dare she talk back! She refuses to believe that I’m the best thing that could ever happen to her. All she cares about is that friend of hers. Hmpf. I must not let her leave. The neighbors will say then say that I’m weak and submissive.
She decided to talk to the man. But alas! Words were met with questions of integrity and loyalty. She protested and raised her voice. He put more curfews on her. It’s for the anti-nationals you see, not really for you. Tired, exasperated and utterly desperate under the memories of all her wounds, she picked up a stone and threw it at the man.
Dhut Dhut Dhut Dhut Dhut Dhut.
Pellets and bullets were fired for every stone she threw. She lay there, broken, hurt and bleeding. The neighbors started shouting this time. Mixed opinions overlapping each other. Do you really love her that you fired bullets on her? Why don’t you give her back to that friend of hers. Let us live in peace. 
What kind of a man are you, couldn’t even rein in your woman! Oh, she deserves it am telling you! The audacity she had to question you back, when you have done so much for her!
Again, no one asked her what she wanted.
Such incidents kept happening. Her body was punctured with bullet wounds, but her will for freedom was very strong. Every time she protested, bullets were fired. Every time bullets were used, she just lay there, broken, hurt and bleeding.
What’s her name you ask? Kashmir. Her name is Kashmir.
Feminism works against every structure of oppression and seeks to wipe out patriarchy. Kashmir’s relationship with India has many overtones of an abusive relationship. If we are feminists, then we are against oppression through structures of power. By extension, we are against state oppression in Kashmir. If our feminism demands that we outrage over rape and how patriarchy uses rape as a tool to silence us, then by extension we are against state-sponsored rapes carried out by uniformed agents of masculinity and patriarchy.
When women decides to fight back and question the patriarchal society, they’re told that they responsible. Their tone and methods of protests are in the spotlight instead of the actual issue. They’re told to remain calm and composed. Why resort to violence when you can talk about it? In Kashmir, we are blaming the stones and overturned buses instead of reflecting on the reason behind their protest.
A woman knows what’s at stake when she speaks publicly about her rape and abuse. An unarmed protester knows what’s at stake when they throw a stone at army men loaded with body armour, helmets and bullets.
As many of us know too well, any toe out of our patriarchal laxman-rekha and you’re called a slut, whore or a spoilt woman. The consequences are nasty and grave (RIP Qandeel Baloch). If a woman wants to leave an abusive marriage, she’s often called a home-breaker, a trouble-maker and an anti-marriage woman who just cares about herself.
For Kashmiris, the term is anti-nationals. For when they raise the question of their individuality, just like those women who want to live life on their own terms, they are met with resistance. The question of identity, of freedom to decide for themselves, the right to self-determination in Kashmir, is as relevant as a woman’s right to individuality.
It’s hard for a woman to decide her own life, what she wants to be and do with herself. In other words, she is denied the agency and control over her own existence. With the muzzling of dissent, gagging of newspapers, blocking internet and telephone lines, the Indian state is denying Kashmir it’s agency to voice their opinions and decide about their existence all by themselves.
All a woman wants is to live her life in peace, on her own terms. Kashmir has a right to self-determination, as much as I and other women have the right to individuality.
The denial of an independent voice, the denial of right to self determination, the force being used, the emotional and physical abuse being used to subdue and to get them to comply – are all examples of patriarchy in practice. It’s almost absurd that you’d be against one form of oppression and patriarchy but not against another form of it in Kashmir.
Oppression anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. If we feminists don’t speak up for the freedom of Kashmir, do we really have the right to expect help for our freedom?
If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
Sonam Mittal is an activist and a writer. She works on issues related to gender, human rights and environment. She is also the co-founder of Spoilt Modern Indian Woman, a feminist initiative on gender and patriarchy. She is currently pursuing s fellowship in Kanthari by Braille Without Borders to establish her dream project on prevention of sexual harassment at workplace.
This article first appeared at


  1. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  2. Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
  3. Juan Ernesto Mendez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  4. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
  5. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression




Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society [JKCCS]

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir

July 16, 2016

Re.: URGENT ACTION / APPEAL regarding deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir



  1. With grave concern and urgency we write to you today to bring to your immediate attention the ongoing State violence and repression against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir including repeated attacks on medical services, particularly hospital ambulances, carrying the dead and critically injured civilians. Jammu and Kashmir once again faces a humanitarian crisis that requires urgent international attention and intervention.
  2. With the presence of an estimated 7, 00,000 armed forces, Jammu and Kashmir is today the most militarized zone in the world and its civilians have faced widespread and systematic attacks at the hands of Indian State forces over the last 26 years. Thus far, the region has seen the commission of human rights violations, including war crimes that have resulted in70,000+ killings, 8000+ enforced disappearances and innumerous cases of torture and sexual violence. The armed forces, through special legislation but more importantly due to direct political support of the Indian state, enjoy total impunity and to date not a single armed forces personnel has been prosecuted for criminal actions in civilian courts of law. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have consistently demanded the end of Indian military occupation, recognition of their fundamental human right to self-determination and the institution of an international, independent justice mechanism to investigate and prosecute the Indian State and its forces for international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in Jammu and Kashmir. It is in this context of historical injustice, targeted state violence and despair that the present violence in Jammu and Kashmir must be seen and its urgency understood. 
  3. Following the killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, Commander, Hizbul Mujahideen [armed rebel group operating in Jammu and Kashmir] by Indian armed forces on 8 July 2016 in South Kashmir, civilians of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Kashmir valley, have been subject to a brutal crackdown by State forces who have attacked those mourning the killing of Burhan Wani and thus far 42 civilians have been killed and more than 1500 injured. In the present state of crisis an accurate number of the dead and injured is difficult to ascertain and everyday more civilians enter hospitals dead, maimed and beaten. A majority of the Kashmir valley is under unlawful curfew with physical and electronic [including mobile and internet connectivity] freedoms curtailed, and in the districts of South Kashmir completely shut down. Numerous persons, including minors, have been subject to arbitrary detention. Since Friday, 15 July, Srinagar, the capital city has been caged with mobile networks shut down. Today, 16 July, the leading newspaper office of the Kashmir valley was raided and papers seized. Jammu and Kashmir is under siege.
  4. As repeatedly seen over the last 26 years in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian State has effectively curtailed all expressions of dissent. Every attempt is made to isolate the people and ensure that the nature and extent of war crimes and unlawful violence is not brought to the attention of the international community, particularly the United Nations and its various human rights bodies. Human rights defenders have been denied free movement and access in order to ensure immunity for state forces as they operate with absolute impunity. Due to the prevailing state restrictions on communications and mobility, the following accounts of state atrocities are based on credible information received from local volunteers, health professionals, hospital visits and news agencies rather than comprehensive independent field based fact finding.
  5. From 8 July 2016 to date, Government of India through predominantly Indian para-military and Jammu and Kashmir police personnel, has disallowed all demonstrations, public gatherings including funeral prayers, protests and other public and private expressions of dissent, through the use of brutal and lethal force. In addition to 42 civilians killed, innumerable cases of grievous injuries, from bullets, brutal beatings and other lethal use of forces, have been reported. Further, more than hundred civilians [men, women and children] have been subject to horrific eye injuries, caused by the use of “pellet guns” by the State forces. Pellet guns, contrary to government claims, are fundamentally lethal weapons with limited ability for discrimination and distinction of targets and proportionality in relation to force used. More importantly, pellet guns have been used by forces with a clear intent to punish and maim civilians. Two civilians are reported to have died of pellet gun injuries. Over a 100 eye-surgeries due to pellet gun injuries have been reported thus far. In a majority of these cases it is reported that the civilians will suffer permanent loss of sight in at least one eye.
  6. The situation in Kashmir is of utmost urgency as it is clear that state violence is specifically targeted at children and youth. Shahid Gulzar, a 13 year old boy from Shopian, is the youngest civilian killed thus far, and Zohra Majeed Gilkar, a 4 year old girl from Srinagar is the youngest victim of pellet gun injuries as she receives treatment at a Srinagar hospital for pellet injuries in her abdomen, chest, both legs and forehead.
  7. A disturbing feature of the state violence has been the attack by state forces, particularly the para-military Central Reserve Police Force, on medical services, including hospital ambulances. Attacks by state forces have been reported at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, Srinagar [the largest hospital in the Kashmir valley, which has seen the largest intake of victims], Anantnag District Hospital [the primary hospital in South Kashmir], Sub-District Hospital, Bijbehara, and Primary Health Centre Lalpora. These attacks have included tear gas shelling inside the hospital building and state forces arresting injured persons receiving urgent medical treatment. Further, it has been widely reported that State forces have attacked ambulances [an estimated 90 thus far] carrying injured civilians to hospitals. Medicins Sans Frontier, based on Srinagar, has in an official press release noted reported attacks on medical services but declined to comment further as they have been unable to independently verify these reports. These attacks, seen during past uprisings by civilians in 2008, 2009 and 2010, on medical services are a means of “collective punishment” for the civilians of Jammu and Kashmir and are directly responsible for the morbidity of injured civilians who are not provided immediate treatment.
  8. The violence of the Indian State forces, including through the use of pellet guns and attacks on medical services, is a clear violation of Indian and international law. State forces are acting against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir as a means to collectively punish the civilian population for their continued demand for the right of self-determination. Consequently, in the context of a military occupation, the Indian State is in violation of individual sections of the Geneva Conventions, 1949, and Additional Protocols, 1977.Its actions fundamentally violate the international humanitarian law rules on distinction between civilian and non-civilian targets, prohibition on indiscriminate attacks and the rule on proportionality of use of force. In their use of force against civilians, state forces are in violation of other international guidelines such as Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, 1990, and Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, 1979.The wounded and sick, and medical units, establishments and their personnel, are expressly protected by international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Conventions, 1949, and Additional Protocols, 1977. It has been expressly stated that they are to respected, protected and must not be objects of attack.
  9. We appeal for your urgent intervention by demanding from Government of India the following immediate measures in Jammu and Kashmir:

i. Prohibit and ban the use of pellet guns with immediate effect,

ii. Prohibit and temporarily ban the use of live ammunition and any other lethal weapons against civilian demonstrators,

iii. Prohibit any and all attacks on medical services including by prohibiting any state forces personnel from entering any hospital premise in Jammu and Kashmir,

iv. Immediately lift the unlawful curfew and ban on peaceful public demonstrations including the holding of funerals or public tributes organized,

v. Immediately lift the unlawful mobile phone services and internet ban,

vi. Ensure freedom of press and prohibit any interference with the work of news agencies,

vii. Allow immediate and unhindered access to Jammu and Kashmir to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and special procedures of the Human Rights Council,

viii. Allow immediate and unhindered access for fact finding to international organizations, particularly those already stationed and/or operating in Jammu and Kashmir such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, Medicins Sans Frontiers and Amnesty International,

ix. Immediately register criminal cases for every instance of violence by state forces, including on medical services, and make public such registration of cases, and carry out investigations,

x. Immediately, in the form of reparations, make payment where sought to victims of violence.



Khurram Parvez,

Programme Coordinator, JKCCS,

Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

Handwritten notes featuring the names of Asiya and Neelofer were posted on over 300 chinar trees in the campus

On May 30, the seventh anniversary of the alleged rape and murder of Asiya and Neelofer in Shopian, Kashmir, students at Kashmir University organized a unique protest against the “continuous denial of justice to the victims.” The students at the university plastered the duo’s names on heritage chinar trees inside the campus as a mark of protest.

On the intervening night of May 29 and 30, 2009, Nilofar Jan (22), and her sister-in-law Asiya Jan (17), were allegedly raped and murdered in south Kashmir’s Shopian district and their bodies were found by the side of a local stream outside the town. Neelofer and Asiya’s family alleged that they had been abducted, raped and murdered by members of the security forces.

Hand-written notes featuring the names of Asiya and Neelofer were posted by the students on over 300 chinar trees inside Kashmir University. Talking to The News Minute, a group of students said, the idea behind putting Asiya’s and Nilofer’s on the chinar trees was to create awareness about the “continuous denial of justice” in Kashmir.

“Chinar holds a particular significance in Kashmir’s history and it has been a witness to grave human rights violations and suppression that has taken place in the valley. We wanted to speak through them because our cries for justice are not being heard time and again. We hope the mighty chinar will get our message through,” said a student, who helped in posting the names on the trees.

A signature campaign was also held in the university demanding justice for the victims. Over 200 students signed a poster that students want to send to the first woman Chief Minister of the state, Mehbooba Mufti, seeking a fresh probe into the case.

“While in the rest of India, media and civil society is demanding swift justice in cases of rape, the same standards are not being applied when it happens in Kashmir. In fact, sexual violence is systematically denied here – Kunan-Poshpora and Shopian are just two examples of it,” said Tabinda, a second-year law student at the university.

Neelofar and Aasiya went missing on May 29, 2009 from their orchard. The next morning, their bodies were found in Rambair Nallah, a stream in Shopian.  The police initially dismissed it as a simple case of drowning but two subsequent post-mortem reports confirmed sexual assault and ruled out death by drowning.

Omar Abdullah, the then chief minister of the state, ordered a one-man commission headed by retired High Court judge, Justice Muzaffar Jan, to probe the incident. Simultaneously, a special investigation team (SIT) of the police was also probing the case. While the SIT never came out with its report, Justice Jan, in his interim report, held the Shopian district administration guilty of “destroying vital evidence and not preserving the scene of the crime, interfering with post-mortem report and dereliction of duty.”

The finding of the inquiry led to the suspension and arrest of four police officers, including a Deputy Superintendent of police, an Inspector, and a Sub-Inspector, for negligence of duty and destruction of vital evidence. The case triggered unprecedented public outrage across Kashmir. Five people were killed and hundreds were left injured in street protests that were fuelled by anger against the police.

In the following months, the investigation was handed over to the CBI which held that neither rape nor murder had been committed on the duo. In December 2009, the CBI charged 13 persons, including the doctors who had earlier confirmed sexual assault on the victims and ruled out death by drowning, for “fudging and fabricating evidence.” All four policemen were also released and reinstated.

But many in the valley including human rights activists and civil society members believe that the CBI inquiry was an institutional cover-up by the state to protect the guilty.

“The people in Kashmir have lost all faith in these sort of inquiries that are ordered by the state after human rights violations and sexual assaults are carried out by its security apparatus,” said Khurram Parvez, a valley-based human rights activist. “What was the result of the findings of Justice Jan’s report? The questions raised by that enquiry were never reconciled by the CBI enquiry.”

However, even the powerful yet subtle way to protest for justice was not allowed to exist in Kashmir University, where student politics has been banned since 2009 following protests against the Shopian rape and murder case. The ban on student politics was first imposed in the university during the late 80s and was only removed in 2007.

Within a few hours of the students posting the names of Asiya and Neelofer on the chinar trees in the campus, all of them were removed by the university administration. The students were also “advised” by the administration to cancel the signature campaign and not to indulge in “activism.” But the students went ahead with the planned signature campaign anyway.

Adil Mir, one of the signatories of the campaign said, “This is not an act of defiance. We are exercising our right to dissent. And, we will continue it till justice is delivered.”

All Images by Syed Shahriyar

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