Posts Tagged ‘Kashmir-Jammu’

flag of the state of Jammu and Kashmir Русский...

flag of the state of Jammu and Kashmir Русский: Флаг Джамму и Кашмира (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Press Release:
15th August 2013


On 29 July 2013, Village Defence Committee [VDC] members were alleged to have killed 16 year old Shamim Ahmed Lone, resident of Noutaas, Thatri, Doda. Further, a few days prior to the murder of Shamim Ahmed, a 16 year old girl, resident of Kuntwara, Kishtwar, was kidnapped and raped by persons backed and protected by the VDC. According to newspaper reports from last over a month at many places in Doda-Kistwar region masked men have terrorized people. Over the last week, several places in the Jammu region, particularly Kishtwar, have been subjected to violence at the hands of VDC members, supported by Hindu communal groups, which resulted into loss of three lives, numerous injuries and loss of public property. The unabated support and encouragement to VDCs by Government of India, has ensured deepening communal strife.

The policy of the Indian State to control the people of Jammu and Kashmir through armed forces is entrenched and has resulted in numerous informal and formal networks of forces outside of the regular armed forces [i.e. army, para-military and police]. More specifically, these networks are referred to in Jammu and Kashmir as: VDCs, Special Police Officers [SPOs] and Ikhwans. Arms are distributed, minus any training, and persons appointed as VDC members, SPOs or Ikhwans, have little or no clarity of the chain of command to control the activities of such forces.

This State action is carried out with no regard for the rule of law and allows unchecked power and a complete lack of accountability. The Indian State has effectively sought to carry out statecraft that is violent and with complete disregard for all human dignity.

As per the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, in the Legislative Assembly, as of 1 April 2013, 26,567 persons were working with the VDCs to fight militancy. Further, it was stated that the VDCs were functioning in 10 districts of Jammu division and Leh District of Ladakh. Giving the break-up, the Chief Minister said the highest number of VDC volunteers – 5818 – were working in Rajouri district followed by Reasi with 5730 volunteers and Doda with 4822 VDC volunteers. Further, the strength of the SPOs working in the police department was placed at 25,474. Of these, 23,577 SPOs were working in different districts and the remaining 1897 were working in other wings/units of the police department. The Chief Minister stated that the highest number of SPOs – 3881 – were in Doda followed by Kishtwar with 2272 and 1740 SPOs in Jammu district.

Further, the Government stated that 7030 SPOs were terminated from services in Jammu and Kashmir since 2009. Of these, 1,292 SPOs had been terminated from services in 2009, followed by 1,535 SPOs in 2010, 2,067 in 2011, 1,917 in 2012 and 219 in 2013. This suggests that the Government has been aware of the criminality and other issues with SPOs that has resulted in dismissals.

Finally, the Ikhwan [Government backed militants], fully functional in the mid-1990s, were responsible for widespread and systematic attacks on civilians and the innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir. While it is reported that there is no longer the phenomenon of Ikhwan in Jammu and Kashmir, the situation is far from certain. Firstly, as the Ikhwan were never created legally, it is difficult to be certain that they have ceased to exist. Secondly, it requires to be confirmed that all the arms and ammunition provided to the Ikhwan have been returned to the Government.

The communal nature of the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir, with the recent VDC violence, is apparent from the very constitution of the VDCs. In response to a RTI application, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir provided the following details regarding VDCs in Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban Districts:

– In Kishtwar District, where the ratio of Hindus to Muslims is 35:65, of a total of 3287 VDC members, 3174 [96.56%] are Hindus. Further, out of 3287 VDC members, 865 are paid as VDC/SPOs, and of these 865, only 21 [2.43%] are Muslims. The rest of the paid VDC/SPOs [97.57%] are Hindus [ANNEXURE 1]
– In Doda District, where the ratio of Hindus to Muslims is 30:70, of a total of 6521 VDC members, 5874 [90.08%] are Hindus. Further, out of 6521 VDC members, 1729 are paid as VDC/SPOs, and of these, only 126 [7.28%] are Muslims. The rest of the paid VDC/SPOs [92.72%] are Hindus [ANNEXURE 2]
– In Ramban District, where the ratio of Hindus to Muslims is 30:70, of a total of 2901 VDC members, 2697 [92.96%] are Hindus. Further, out of 2901 VDC members, 177 are paid as VDC/SPOs, and of these, only 1 [0.6%] is a Muslim. The rest of the paid VDC/SPOs 176 [99.4%] are Hindus [ANNEXURE 3][1]

The privatization of human rights abuses and the outsourcing of criminality by the Indian State besides being in violation to many international laws are also violative of India’s constitution, and the rule of law. VDCs and Ikhwan must therefore be immediately disbanded. The powers of the SPOs must be limited to minor issues of traffic control, and they must have no powers vis-à-vis the control of militancy or any political activity. Further, the recruitment and training of SPOs must be carried out at a standard that ensures a responsible and accountable force. All arms and ammunition from all three groups must be immediately confiscated. Finally, investigations and prosecutions for all crimes committed must be carried out.

Unfortunately, instead of nabbing the culprits, the Government has imposed curfew in many parts of Jammu region, scrapped internet services in entire Jammu and Kashmir and thus punished the entire population instead of perpetrators.

Khurram Parvez
Programme Coordinator

[1] All references to “Hindu” and “Muslim” are to be read as persons of “Hindu descent” and “Muslim descent”.


The Apparatus

By SANJAY KAK | 1 March 2013,

| 1 | FLESH

A YOUNG KASHMIRI MAN is working in his father’s paddy field, bare-chested in the humid late summer, his strong body glistening with exertion. His mother and sisters work alongside, knee-deep in water. Let’s just imagine that they’re humming a tune off a nearby transistor radio.

That’s how the story, which I first heard almost exactly ten years back, begins—Soon an army jeep, closely followed by a truck, pulls up on the road next to their fields. The men inside appear to watch for some time. Then half a dozen armed soldiers step out briskly, and walk towards the family. There may have been an exchange of words, though later no one can confirm what was said.

The soldiers quickly grab the young man, and drag him off into the waiting truck. His muscular torso did not suggest strength any more, it was quietly noted afterwards, but great vulnerability. The women ran after the soldiers, shouting and screaming. One of them pulled off her headscarf, tossing it at the feet of the departing soldiers, in a final gesture of abject surrender. But there was no space for mercy here: these were men from the Rashtriya Rifles of the Indian Army, the much feared RR, trained for counter-insurgency, and said to be “psychologically strong”. They were not known to relent. As the olive-green truck rolled away, it was as if its engine were sucking away the very air from this landscape. For a little while longer the women could still be seen, flailing their arms in muffled, incoherent despair, and then, a heaving heap of exhausted bodies on the ground.

A week later, the young man’s father was still doing the rounds of army outposts in the area, trying to find his missing son. Dense concentric webs of barbed wire girdle these camps, with a second impenetrable ring of sandbags and metal sheets, which together buttress the nervous, edgy authority of the soldiers. Over several days the elderly man was passed on from camp to camp; after craven postures of servility and submission had been struck before soldiers and Subedars, in front of boyish Captains and Majors, he was finally ushered into the presence of “C.O. sahib”, the Commanding Officer of the unit.

Ah, that was your son, the Colonel is said to have remarked, sharp in his mint-fresh camouflage fatigues and his polished combat boots. The Colonel was almost smiling now—good-looking boy, handsome, nice strong body. He was with us, he said, but he’s gone now. As he signaled for the old man to be escorted out, the Colonel looked the father in the eye, and added—uska maas achcha tha. His flesh was good.

In some versions of this story, the father reports a mumbled last comment heard on his way out—it tasted good.

THE STORY MAY BE APOCRYPHAL, for I heard several variations of it during the summer of 2003, each time with all its noxious insinuations intact. From Kupwara, from Sopore, from Kulgam, whispered stories like this one were the incarnations of a fevered nightmare that has plagued Kashmir for at least two decades. In the early 1990s the movement for azadi—independence for Kashmir—had quickly devolved into the hands of the armed mujahideen, and these groups were pretty much setting the agenda of the struggle. That paved the way for many years of a brutal counter-insurgency campaign in the valley, spearheaded by the Indian Army and its para-military forces, who were charged with neutralising the insurrection in Kashmir, what was locally called the ‘militancy’.

By 2003, with support from Pakistan beginning to dwindle, the insurgency was set to weaken. After a decade of vicious bloodletting, the Indian security apparatus in Kashmir was more confident, ready to trade that older brutality for a new regime of psychological war. This mind-bending battle of attrition was not to be played out in open confrontations between militant and soldier, but in another, more subterranean zone, peopled by government-backed militants, by ‘special’ police officers, by renegades, spies and double-agents. The story I heard had probably risen out of the toxic sludge of this ‘psy-war’.

The recently released human rights report Alleged Perpetrators: Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir doesn’t contain the story of a bare-bodied young man splashing his way through the paddy fields and into the back of an olive-green truck. But between its severe black covers are several hundred other stories, in meticulous detail, arranged in a matrix constructed along four chilling categories: enforced disappearance, extra-judicial killing, rape and torture. The report is the patient work of several years by two Kashmir-based human rights groups—the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), and the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK), widely known for its landmark 2009 report documenting the existence of more than 2700 unknown, unmarked and mass graves in three districts of Kashmir.

There are several cases from that year, 2003, with the place of anecdote now reassuringly taken up by verifiable detail. The report’s authors insist that all the cases in the document have been reconstructed almost entirely from official records. But running my eyes over the stories, I found myself snagged by that familiar, but still unsettling word: flesh.

Case 178 is about Mohammad Ashraf Malik, a 25-year-old from Kupwara town, a casual employee of the Forest Department. In May 2003, he was asked to report to the Town Hall by the local Army unit, and detained along with four other young men. The others were all released shortly, he was not. A few nights later, there was a blast—and here we had best turn to the report itself:

“On 20 May 2003, the family of Mohammad Ashraf Malik was informed by the Senior Superintendent of Police [SSP], Kupwara that the victim had died in an Improvised Explosive Device [IED] blast on the previous night. One kilogram of the victim’s flesh was handed over to the family. The family of Mohammad Ashraf Malik believes that he was tortured and that the IED blast was a cover up.”

Case 55 is about Tahir Hassan Makhdoomi, a 23-year-old from Tujjar Sharief, near Sopore. The army picked him up from his home in September 2003, at 4.30 am on the morning after his wedding. The family, the report notes, had taken ‘permission’ for the wedding from the nearest Army post, a mandatory procedure in much of rural Kashmir. There were no charges against Tahir Hassan, but several months earlier his father was known to have had a disagreement with an officer, Major Rajinder Singh, at the nearby camp. The family made several trips to see the officer, but no information was forthcoming. Three days later, according to the report:

“Around 5:00 am on 15 September 2003, Major Rajinder Singh came to the house of the family of the victim and informed the father of the victim that his son had been an informer for the army and had died in an explosion during an anti-terrorist operation at Yemberzalwari. Subsequently, the left leg of the victim, the only part of his body that could be recovered from the explosion, was provided to the family of the victim. Based on the information provided by Major Rajinder Singh, only the victim was killed in this incident. Nobody from the army was injured or killed.”


BEGINNING IN 1990 with Mohammad Shafi Dar, 19 (abduction, enforced disappearance) and ending in 2011 with Nazim Rashid Shalla, 28 (abduction, wrongful confinement, torture, extra-judicial killing), Alleged Perpetrators details 214 such stories over its 232 closely set pages. The report comes with the disclaimer that it’s not to be considered a “definitive or exhaustive list”. That’s not possible in Kashmir, its authors insist, because in a zone of conflict where institutions of the State—including the judiciary, and especially the police—have proven ineffective, “a majority of the violations have not been investigated”. The trail of official documents that the report deploys usually begins at a police station, with the filing of the mandatory First Information Report (FIR), and many of the cases have been investigated by the Jammu & Kashmir Police (JKP), and by its Criminal Investigation Department. Some have been scrutinised by Magisterial Enquiry, and by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC). A few have even been argued at length before the High Court. By restricting their universe to cases documented by these official sources, its authors are able to assert that “the documents in possession of the State itself indict the armed forces and the police by providing reasonable, strong and convincing evidence on the role of the alleged perpetrators in specific crimes”.

The wider intention in selecting this particular set of cases becomes clear early on—to trace the unbridled use of military and police power by the Indian state in Jammu and Kashmir, and to make palpable the overwhelming impunity that accompanies this application of state violence, all of which happens in the name of countering militant violence. But by drawing a spotlight on the identities of the perpetrators, the report also begins the process of sweeping aside the protective anonymity that has sustained impunity in Kashmir. By naming names, and placing the ranks and institutional affiliations of the perpetrators in the public domain, its authors underline the idea that “despite a culture of systemic impunity that exonerates them, it is individuals who commit violations, and they must first and foremost bear responsibility for their acts”.

That Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have operated in a bubble of impunity is not by itself a startling conclusion. But in its detailed recounting of this closed universe of 214 cases, the report is able to take the bald, featureless idea of impunity and give it a shape and structure, outline its methods, and most of all, give its operating parts names. And it’s not all history: it includes SM Sahai, currently Inspector General of Police (IGP), who as a young DSP figures in the 1990 extra-judicial killing of one man and enforced disappearance of another; and Kuldeep Khoda, former Director General of Police (DGP), who is named in the 1996 extra-judicial killing of three men at the hands of a Special Police Officer known to be close to him. By placing these “alleged perpetrators” in the dock of public opinion, the report is able to achieve a transformation in the wider discourse on human rights in the troubled valley. After years of doggedly pursuing an accurate rendition of the victims—the questions of who, when, and how many that fill most accounts of human rights violations—this report now forces us to confront a more precise account of the perpetrator. And by its systematic tracking of the cases, some of them with a paper-trail of official documents almost 20 years old, we can also see the methods by which the pursuit of justice is rendered almost impossible.

The end result of this quiet shift will, in the long run, prove to be no less than tectonic. The narratives assembled in Alleged Perpetrators cumulatively make clear that these are not stories about the fog of war. These are not aberrations, or temporary acts of indiscipline, or even ‘collateral damage’. On the contrary, the brazen repetition of the same tactics, over and over again, in 214 instances, tells us that there is a deliberate, systemic, even systematic application of extreme violence.

As you turn the pages on these carefully curated cases, layer upon layer is added to our imagining of a monstrous device by which such violence is exercised, revealing a vast and well-oiled apparatus through which a restive population is sought to be controlled. It’s a machine that has been half a century in the making, its details worked out in similar situations, in Nagaland, in Manipur, in Mizoram. Its apparent capriciousness and its underlying criminality are both made possible only by impunity—by that complete freedom from the injurious consequences of an action, by the very opposite of accountability.

Alleged Perpetrators unfolds before us endless variations in the stories of this dystopia, this One Thousand and One Nights with an ever changing cast of characters. In this Hazar Dastan written up especially for Kashmir, if narratives that end in ‘flesh’ are too disturbing, for instance, try and distract yourself by looking for stories that feature ‘escape’—I counted at least ten.

In June 1992 Ghulam Nabi Bhat was picked up in Srinagar by the Border Security Force (BSF), and rapidly processed through at least four dreaded interrogation centers: Hariniwas (literally, “the abode of God”), Papa-2, Hotel No.3 and Hotel No.4. But it was from the heavily guarded headquarters of 107th Battalion BSF that they claimed the 21-year-old had made an escape. Ghulam Nabi has disappeared since.

In March 1993, after holding the 24-year-old Ashiq Hussain Ganai in custody for almost three weeks, the 17th Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry reported his escape, during an ambush on a convoy in which they were moving with him. The soldiers reported no casualties, and no further proof of the veracity of their claims was ever asked for. In the second week of April, the report states, “the mutilated and decomposed body of Ashiq Hussain Ganai was recovered from the Jhelum river 40 km away from the Chatoosa Camp.”

Twenty-year-old Mushtaq Ahmad Chacha was picked up by the 41st battalion BSF in July 1995. While in custody he was taken along to help locate militant hideouts in downtown Srinagar, the BSF told investigators, when there was sudden ‘heavy firing’ in the Kani Mazar locality, and he escaped. Mushtaq Ahmed has disappeared since. (Eyewitnesses later testified before a judicial enquiry ordered by the High Court that no firing was reported in the area that day).

Even in the constrained universe of cases brought together by Alleged Perpetrators, it’s difficult not to be overwhelmed by the practiced ease with which these frequent tales of “escape” have cloaked the abyss of what human-rights speak calls enforced disappearances.

In August 1990, four men were pushing their car after it broke down on the highway, not far from Baramulla town. Picked up by a passing patrol of the 46th battalion Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), they were taken to the nearby Matches Factory camp, where after several weeks of torture, three of them were released. But not Ghulam Mohammad Lone—a day after his arrest, the CRPF said, this 40-year-old carpet seller tried to push aside a sentry and escape. There was a scuffle, and he died.

In August 1994 26-year-old Mushtaq Ahmad Wani was picked up by the 3rd Grenadiers as he waited at a bus stop in Hayan, in Kupwara district. In a report filed with the police a few days later, the soldiers acknowledged the arrest, and said arms and ammunition had been found on him. Later the same day, they filed a second report, this time to say that as Mushtaq Ahmad led them to a militant hideout on a nearby hill, he had managed to escape.

The brutal rupture of disappearances described in Alleged Perpetrators is often compounded by random, twisted acts of cruelty.

In November 1996, after almost 20 days in the custody of the 8th Rajputana Rifles, the family of 28-year-old Mohammad Akbar Rather was contacted by a ‘government-backed’ militant, an Ikhwani. The renegade asked the family to prepare a feast, a wazwan, for their sahib, Major Liyakat Ali Khan (his ‘operational’ name—the police records identify him as Major SS Sinah). The Major sahib was fed, in the tortured hope that it might help release their son. It was only a few days later that his family were told that soon after he was taken into custody, Mohammad Akbar had—what else—escaped. The actions of the Ikhwani displayed a cruel malevolence. But such perverse acts of criminality must be seen as only one more blade in the apparatus of impunity, and Alleged Perpetrators contains dozens of cases that match it.

Manzoor Ahmad Beigh, a 40-year-old car broker from Srinagar, was picked up in May 2009 and taken to Cargo camp, another well-known interrogation centre, under the orders of Inspector Khurshed Ahmed Wani of Special Operations Group (SOG), Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP). There were no charges against Manzoor Ahmad, just Inspector Wani weighing in to help another car broker recover an unpaid debt of Rs. 40,000. When Manzoor Ahmad left Cargo camp three hours later, it was for the hospital, where he was reported dead on arrival. A later investigation by the SHRC referred to injuries on his shoulders, head, and chest, with “intraparenchymal haemorrhage” of his kidneys.

Straightforward robbery could be accommodated too. In June 1999, when Nazir Ahmad Gilkar, Javed Ahmad Shah and Ghulam Rasool Matoo were stopped for routine checking by men of the SOG, they were on their way from a wedding, and carrying a substantial amount of cash. They were dragged into the adjacent Soura Police Station, then under the watch of Sub-Divisional Police Officer Abdul Rashid Khan, the notorious ‘Rashid Billa’, from where all three disappeared. Their bodies did eventually surface. Nazir Ahmad had been thrown into the Dal lake after being tortured to death; and Javed Ahmad and Ghulam Rasool were shot dead, then buried anonymously.


TWO WEEKS AFTER Alleged Perpetrators was released I spoke to Kartik Murukutla, a lawyer who was part of the team that wrote the report. Murukutla drifted into Kashmir last year, not quite a tourist, he said, but not very clued into the conflict there either—drawn only by a general curiosity, and “wondering if I could help with something”. He turned out to be uniquely placed to contribute—he had recently returned after five years working with the UN International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda.

“The report doesn’t necessarily privilege official records over, say, oral testimonies. Nor does it assume that just because these facts are part of the official record that makes them true,” he clarified. “It’s just that by drawing on what their own records contain, we are able to draw attention to the very sophisticated way in which all standards of human rights have been lowered in Jammu and Kashmir. Formally, every stage of judicial procedure exists here, from the FIR, to the investigation, to the courts and the SHRC,” Murukutla added. “It’s only when you look beyond procedure, look at the outcome, at what they’ve actually done and said, that it becomes clear what the State is up to”.

Incidents involving the Army usually have the protection of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Under the Act, army and paramilitary officers can search homes and make arrests without warrants. They can shoot at those suspected of causing disturbance to ‘public order’, and can blow up a building or a home on suspicion that insurgents are using it. The law also protects the soldiers from being prosecuted in civilian courts without the formal approval of the central government.

In almost 20 years of the conflict, not a single case has been granted this sanction to prosecute. According to the authors of the report, this is hardly surprising, given the all-pervasive “climate of secrecy and non-disclosure, and the misuse of the sanction process”. When details of these sanctions were sought under the new Right to Information rules, the Home department of the J&K Government provided a list of 50 cases which they had forwarded for sanction to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in Delhi. But a similar request made directly to the MOD yielded only 24 cases—only 10 of which were also on the list provided by the J&K Government.

What happened to the 14 cases that were missing from the J&K Government’s records? Where did the 40 cases missing from the MOD records vanish? This shoddiness and lack of seriousness would be bad enough, but the outcome was worse—the sanction to prosecute was denied by the MOD in 19 of the 24 cases, while 5 remained “under examination”. The stated reasons for rejection often seemed simply rubber stamped—“motivated by vested interest to malign the image of the security forces”, or “under pressure from terrorists and sympathisers”, or “to put the army on defensive”, and so on.

Riffling through the pages of Alleged Perpetrators gives you the feeling that you’ve been handed a scale-model of the vast mechanism of impunity that underlies the police and military control of Jammu and Kashmir. As you learn to spin the various wheels of this working model along their different axes, and watch the gears and pinions engage, you can see that the ‘escape’ stories are really the crude outer blade of this machine. And that an even more powerful mechanism sits at its middle: the entropic black hole of delay.

In the 1990 enforced disappearance of Raja Ali Mardan Khan, it took 16 years to file an FIR, which named Major Thapa of the 3rd Sikh regiment. It took 12 years for an FIR to be filed in the 1997 enforced disappearance of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar and Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, by soldiers from the 20th Grenadiers battalion. (This was six years after the High Court had ordered that this FIR be registered.) The logic in the delay of lodging FIRs is not hard to find, and is made most clear in the 1992 extra-judicial killing of Sheikh Hamza, where Captain Gorpala Singh and Subedar Charandass Singh of the 17th J&K Light Infantry were named. The fact that “FIR was lodged after 20 months from the date of operation” was eventually invoked by the Ministry of Defence to brush aside the case, on the grounds that “the individuals named in the complaint were never borne on the strength of the unit.”

The report quotes one particularly chilling circular, sent out to all police stations from the Home Department, Jammu and Kashmir in April 1992, directing them to “refuse to file FIRs against the armed forces without the approval of higher authorities, and refrain from reporting accusations of misconduct on the part of the armed forces in their daily logs”. In effect, this is an official sanction to disobey the Indian Criminal Procedure Code. That FIRs may still get filed—after unconscionable delays—conceals the fact that such delays can completely paralyse even the meagre possibility of eventual judicial redress.

The agonising pace of the process leaves its anesthetising effect over many of the cases in the report. In the absence of timely investigation, any later imprecision by the families of the victims around ‘facts’ become a ground for denial. It is this institutional culture of moral, political and juridical impunity, the report notes, that has resulted in “enforced and involuntary disappearance of at least 8000 persons, besides more than 70,000 deaths, and disclosures of more than 6000 unknown, unmarked, and mass graves”.

“That failure to deliver justice is actually its success,” Kartik Murukutla told me. “That’s what it’s meant to do; it’s meant to fail.”

IF THERE IS AN AXIS ALONG WHICH JUSTICE can be slowly approximated, then the apparatus of impunity seems designed to grievously wound those who try and make their way on it. Across the array of 214 cases in Alleged Perpetrators, you can read a consistent pattern in the cuts deployed by the machinery of the State: Delay. Distract. Divert. And if that doesn’t work: Subvert, Suborn, Seduce, and Bribe.

This usually begins with the ‘ex-gratia’ government relief, payable for “death or disability as a result of violence attributable to the breach of law and order or any other form of civic commotion”. That’s far too genteel a description for the instances in this report, many of which read like straightforward executions. But the ex-gratia is at least doled out quickly, a secular version of blood money, usually around Rs. 100,000, drawing distraught families into a relationship with the state, which they may be loathe to do otherwise. The more elusive promise comes from the enigmatically titled “SRO-43”, the Statutory Rules and Orders that govern “compassionate employment of family members of victims of militant related action or other specified reasons”. Here, the possibility of a government job is held out as a palliative, a means of tempering the anger of the victim’s families over a longer time span. You may never get that promised job, but waiting for it, and negotiating for it, will certainly put a knot in your tongue.

The futility of such compassion, and the deep cynicism underlying it, is of course obvious to everybody it touches, because the entire mechanism is otherwise constructed around incentives that encourage the killing of ‘militants’. Everything else we now recognise as the back teeth of the machine necessarily rolls along in the wake of that juggernaut of killing: extortion, fake encounters, reward money.

Nothing illustrates this better than some of the names that show up repeatedly in the report, like Major Avtar Singh, who was involved in the well-known abduction and extra-judicial killing of the human rights lawyer Jaleel Andrabi in 1996. In that same year Major Avtar Singh was also involved in two other cases—abduction (with intention of extortion), and abduction and enforced disappearance. The next year the Major is named in the extra-judicial killing of five men (some of whom may themselves have been involved in the killing of Jaleel Andrabi, so this was probably the execution of inconvenient witnesses); as well as in the extra judicial killing of a Sikh tailor in Srinagar.

Major Avtar Singh was never brought to trial. Despite the cases against him, despite a 1997 High Court order ordering the government to impound his passport, he was able to flee to Canada with his family in 2006, from where he eventually moved to the United States. He last resurfaced in tragic circumstances, early one morning in June 2012, when he called the police in Selma, California, to announce that he had just shot dead his wife and two sons, and was about to shoot himself. This last act of inward violence may have been interpreted by some as divine intervention, but it surely cannot count as justice.

Another name that figures frequently is Hans Raj Parihar, who as a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) was named in the 1997 enforced disappearance of Fayaz Ahmad Beigh, a cameraman from University of Kashmir. In 2001, as a Superintendent of Police (SP), his name figures in the extra-judicial killing of Ashiq Hussain Akhoon. (That’s the same year he also picked up the Commendation Medal). In 2006, now promoted to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Hans Raj Parihar was named in the extra-judicial killing of Abdul Rehman Padder, a carpenter who was lured by the offer of a well-paying job, killed in a fake encounter, and buried. (Abdul Rehman the carpenter was then invested with the identity of Abu Hafiz, a foreign militant, and financial rewards were given to his killers.) SSP Parihar’s luck turned with this one, for he possibly misread the breeze. The case became extremely visible, and he was eventually indicted and sent to jail, where he remains.

It’s the only case amongst the 214 listed in Alleged Perpetrators where there’s been a conviction.


WHAT GREASES THIS MONSTROUS SYSTEM, and keeps it running with no end in sight, like a perpetual-motion machine, is the system of promotions and financial rewards, what Alleged Perpetrators calls the “incentivising” of impunity. We know that the man who lured Abdul Rehman Padder into the encounter received Rs. 120,000 for his troubles, and that the police “encounter party” shared a reward of Rs. 100,000. But we don’t know how much SSP Hans Raj Parihar received, or what kind of cash other police officers are able to pull in. A request for details of these incentives, filed under the Right to Information laws, was denied, the report tells us. The J&K Government would only confirm that 2226 police officials had received out of turn promotions for “anti-militancy operations”, and that 560 police officials had received awards for “gallant acts”. Names of these policemen, as well as the “militants” they were rewarded for killing, must remain secret, the Government said in a written reply, because disclosure would “hit the sentiments of the general people and create unrest and law and order problem”.

The secrecy around these incentives is periodically broken only by the proclamation of State awards and medals. SP Altaf Ahmad Khan, an accused in the 2004 custodial rape and torture of a 16-year-old girl in Zachaldara, Kupwara, received the 2010 DGP’s Commendation Medal. In 2011, his name reappears again in the custodial killing of a 20-year-old in Sopore, the last case in the report. Despite the notoriety, SP Altaf Ahmad Khan was given a gallantry award on India’s Republic Day in January 2012, and a President’s Police Award for Gallantry on Independence Day later that year.

“Most of the people involved in these cases are doing what they do for the money,” Khurram Parvez told me recently over a video chat. One of the key researchers and writers of Alleged Perpetrators, the feisty Khurram is an important figure in the modest universe of what they call “human rights defenders” in Kashmir. For over a decade he’s been at the heart of its most important interventions, including the IPTK’s landmark report on unidentified graves. “It’s this corruption of incentives that has created a vested interest here, and brutalised our society and created these creatures,” he said.

And the longer such brutalisation and corruption stays unaddressed, the more volatile and uncontrollable the anger becomes. In 2010, it was the “Machil” killings that became a crucial trigger for unprecedented outrage in Kashmir, leading to sustained mass street protests that paralysed the valley for at least six months over the summer. It’s here as Case 205, with three men lured from their homes in Nadihal, Baramulla in April 2010 by Army informers, on the promise of well-paid high-altitude porter work. The three were killed in a fake encounter a few days later, by the 4th Rajputana Rifles, who then presented the bodies as those of important foreign militants. The evidence on record with the police against the Army officers and their subordinates seems straightforward enough. But the case finds itself pulled out of the already slow grind of the civilian criminal courts, from where it has disappeared into the opaque justice system of the Army’s Court Martial. No one expects to hear about it soon.

No one anticipates an early resolution to the older “Pathribal” killings of March 2000 either. That’s Case 155, when five men were killed in a fake encounter staged by the 7th Rashtriya Rifles, and their bodies proudly produced as those of the militants responsible for the heinous killing of 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora in South Kashmir. Cosseted by the blanket legal immunity offered by the AFSPA, the soldiers named as perpetrators have moved on with life. (We know that the C.O. sahib, Colonel Ajay Saxena, was promoted to Major General; and that Major Brijendra Pratap Singh was subsequently made a Lieutenant Colonel.)

“We had some debate internally about calling out the names of perpetrators,” Khurram said. “This is, after all, still a zone of active conflict, and the violence is still all around us.” There were apprehensions that it might provoke a backlash from some of the perpetrators, or that it might incite many ordinary Kashmiris to violence. “We went through the same apprehensions when we were coming out with the Mass Graves report too—and that probably had an even bigger emotional impact on people here.” The fears proved to be misplaced, and eventually neither document triggered an upheaval, “although the two reports together have changed the discourse of human rights in Kashmir”, Khurram added, with disarming confidence.

In off-the-record conversations with him, Khurram said, several senior police officials have even welcomed the attention that the report draws to the monetary rewards, for it’s becoming clear even from within that the incentives have led to a massive perversion of the system.

“There’s a very important link between these incentives and the occupation of Kashmir,” Khurram Parvez concluded. “Stop this corruption, and I don’t think that the occupation will even last a day.”

AT THE BACK OF THE ALLEGED PERPETRATORS report is a full list of the 500 names, from the Army, the Para-military forces, the J&K Police, and from the loose assemblage of Government-backed militants. Here, senior police officials, like the former DGP and the present IGP, are joined by two Major Generals, three Brigadiers, nine Colonels, three Lieutenant Colonels, and 78 Majors from the Army—the brass is fairly blinding. When these seasoned veterans hear of the report, will they want to pore over it, looking for their names? Will they worry? Will young policemen and army officers also read it, and pause to think about the battle they have signed up for, and look for a different compass to help them find a way out?

The Army’s official response to the report was predictable: a spokesman dismissed it as the mere “collation of unsubstantiated allegations aimed at maligning the Army”. The state government’s first response was to call it a “serious” matter, but then the same week, they proceeded to promote two senior police officers who figure in the list.

Looking at this list of 500 names, I could not but wonder if there are no soldiers and policemen in Kashmir who have had a moment of bad conscience, or an urge to break ranks? Did any of them ever feel the moral pressure to turn whistle-blower? We’ll probably never know. But in the printed report, I found traces of only one.

It’s a story that I knew already, and this one doesn’t end well either.

Case 185 involved the killing of four men from outside the Kashmir valley: Ashok Kumar, Bushan Lal, Ram Lal, and Satpaul, all Hindus from near Jammu. They too had been lured into coming to Kupwara with that familiar offer of highly paid work as porters. They too were killed in cold blood, with the 18th RR filing a routine report at the Lalpora Police Station: an encounter, they said, and two dead ‘terrorists’ to be buried. This was 20th April 2004.

A few months later, some Muslim families from Ganderbal were told that the buried men might be their missing kin, and were swiftly given permission to exhume the bodies. They were almost encouraged to take the bodies away and re-bury them in their family graveyard. The story could have ended with that interment: one set of disappeared men transformed into another. Messy, even tragic, but no one would have known better. But tucked in at the tail end of case is the sting, a mention of an Army officer connected to the killings, a Captain Sumit Kohli, who was subsequently “found dead”.

In this last story of our selections from the Hazar Dastan, we’ll have to stray away from Alleged Perpetrators, and reconstruct the conclusion from newspaper archives. This part is triggered by a letter that Meso Devi, wife of Ram Lal, one of the four dead men, received in June 2005. Written in Hindi, it informed her about the fake encounter and gave explicit details of the involvement of officers and men of the 18th RR. It was signed anonymously—aap ka sainik, insaniyat ka pujari (your soldier, worshipper of humanity). Someone—obviously a witness to the killing and burial of the four—had picked up their identity cards, found an address, as well as the courage to write the letter.

Eventually, some family members of the missing men arrived at the Lalpora Police Station, and by the end of 2005, the whole case exploded into public view. In the subsequent Court of Enquiry conducted by 18th RR, Captain Sumit Kohli was also a witness. In March 2006, this outstanding young officer was awarded a Shaurya Chakra, a prestigious medal for gallantry, for his courage in fighting ANEs (Anti National Elements, in the jargon). Five weeks later, the Captain was dead, shot in the head with an AK-47. Self-inflicted wounds, the Army said, hinting that he was depressed. Suicide, they said. He was only 26.

Captain Kohli’s father had a cerebral haemorrhage on hearing the news, and died a few days later, to be cremated only a day after his son. That left behind a grieving mother and a pregnant wife, and for many years the two women bravely campaigned to clear the air: they were convinced that their Sumit was no quitter, and that he had been killed for daring to lift the lid on the killings of the four civilians.

This footnote to Case 185, the young soldier who worshipped humanity, insaniyat ka pujari, was the one exception to have crossed the line, to become a possible witness, and maybe a whistle-blower. He was truly a shahid, both witness and martyr.

All through the pages of Alleged Perpetrators, making your way through case after case of the most disturbing instances of impunity, of a callous disregard for humanity, it’s not just the victims (or the perpetrators) alone whose stories take you in. Often it’s the witnesses, the brave souls who were present at the sites of abductions, who were present in police lock-ups and interrogation centers and torture chambers, taking their own punishment, but emerging with stories of those who perhaps didn’t make it. They are the witnesses to the silently borne rape of women, to the custodial killings, and the large-scale massacres. Without them the work of a volume like Alleged Perpetrators would be impossible. With each story that is told with care and caution, it’s that collective memory, painfully garnered, which promises to become the keen edge of justice in the future. That alone can blunt the teeth of the monstrous machine of impunity.

Sanjay Kak is a film-maker and occasional writer, whose recent work includes the documentary Jashn-e-Azadi—How we celebrate freedom (2007) about the conflict in Kashmir. He is the editor of the anthology Until My Freedom Has Come—The New Intifada in Kashmir (Penguin India 2011).

There was a woman whose life was
by electric shocks in her private parts.
… You talk about humanity?
There was a bride in a village. It was
her wedding day. Beasts ruined her
She and her aunt were raped by BSF….But wait, they
are for
security…. So do not shout, do not
protest_ you terrorists.
You talk about injustice?
There was a brother who was kept
ongun point by army, and two of his sisters were raped
in next room…..
He said
i was hearing cries of sisters and
laughs of beasts… But, it
though You talk about Rights? There was a 9th standard
girl, All
innocent and childish, her clothes
were torn
and kept naked for days…. Yes, by
security forces…. So
shhhh… dont say a word There was a village where they
treated females as hurd of
There was a mother, a sister who
went to fields, all happy…. alas they
came back on four shoulders, fell prey to
thelust of
beasts… But bodies were drowned,
stress full allegations.. plans by ISI,
suicides,probes ¬ ¬ ¬ , cross border
terrorism, Pakistan Hence proved….. Rape is a myth,
nothing ever happened….
Damini ( rape victim ) was lucky
that world went on rampage to
share her pain.
when Asiya And Neelofer were raped and
murdered nobody uttered a word.
More than 9000 women have been
here alone. Corrupt government
officials and police rapists roam
free yet women fear for their honor and you know where this is
happening. THIS IS MY KASHMIR!.

by – MEEM HYE MEHRAN (@BeingMehran)


Thursday, 07 Mar 2013 at 11:22, Rising Kahsmir

3553 molestation, 2950 kidnapping, 960 eve-teasing, 29 dowry cases

Arun Singh
Jammu, Mar 7: 
Around 815 rape cases have been registered in Jammu and Kashmir in the last three years. 110 rape cases were reported in Jammu and 55 cases in Srinagar.

The figures came to fore in a written reply to the question asked by Member of Legislative Council, Ravinder Sharma seeking details regarding number of crimes against women in the state during past three years and steps taken to check the atrocities against women.
According to the reply, 2950 kidnapping cases were reported in last three years. In year 2012, 299 women/girls were raped and 1059 were abducted in different districts of the state. In the same year, two gang rape cases, 1322 cases of molestation and outraging modesty, 347 cases of eve teasing, eight cases in dowry deaths, 199 cases of abetment to suicide, 301 cases in cruelty by husband, three cases under Dowry Restraint Prohibition Act and three in suppression of immoral trafficking were registered at various police stations across the state.
In the year 2011, 273 rapes, 1041 kidnaps, 1194 molestations, 351 eve teasing and 11 dowry cases were registered. In 2010, 243 rapes, 850 kidnaps, 1037 molestations, 262 eve teasing and 10 dowry cases were registered.
“Stringent laws were already in force and any culprit involved in a crime or atrocity against a woman was being dealt in accordance with law,” the government reply reads.
It said the investigations in the cases were supervised by a senior officer. “Effective patrolling and vigil was also being ensured at sensitive locations to prevent the occurrence of such crimes.”
The government also said various awareness programmes, legal camps with the help of opinion leaders at police station level were also organized to create public opinion about crime against women.


TNN | Feb 3, 2013, 04.55 AM IST

After threats, Kashmir's first all-girl rock band stops live shows

After threats, Kashmir‘s first all-girl rock band stops live shows
SRINAGAR: Jammu & Kashmir chief ministerOmar Abdullah on Saturday led the chorus of support for the valley’s first all-girl Sufi rock band — ‘Pragaash’ (light) — that was forced to quit live performances after abuses on social media.

The CM promised action while public support including a Facebook community “I support Pragaash, Kashmir’s first all-girls’ rock band” has encouraged them to bounce back with an album as a befitting reply to hate mongers.

“They have stopped live performances for the time being but are working on their album,” said 22-year-old Adnan Muhammad Mattoo, Pragaash manager and a musician, who trained the teenaged girls — Farah Deeba, Aneeqa Khalid and Noma Nazir — at his Band Inn Music Academy in Srinagar. “They will be back with a bang.”

The three could not be contacted and are said to be in New Delhi. “Thanks for the support everyone. It really means a lot!” wrote the band’s guitarist, Aneeqa Khalid, on the community page that had managed 594 likes since Friday when it was started.

The band gained prominence after their exceptional performance at the annual “Battle of the Bands” event that Mattoo has been organizing to encourage young talent since 2008. The abuse began days later, forcing their alarmed parents to ensure they keep a low profile. They had won the best performance award in their first public appearance.

Omar joined hundreds of Pragaash supporters on Twitter to lend his support. “I hope these talented young girls will not let a handful of morons silence them…,” he tweeted. He said police would examine the threats and whether any provision of the law can be used to book those making them. ” Shame on those who claim freedom of speech via social media & then use that freedom to threaten girls who have the right to choose to sing.”

“We are yet to outdo haters. Keep the support coming in,” Shehla Rashid Shora, one of the band supporters, wrote on the Facebook page. “Misogyny is not restricted to Kashmir. It’s only being recognized here now because people are raising a voice against it.”

Another supporter Absaar Syed echoed Shora. “Quitting would amount to lending haters a win. Don’t do that.”. Nibha Majeed seconded him. “(T)hese personz who use such abusive language n dnt knw how to talk abt gals…are rotten lots themselves …”

Mattoo said the support had overwhelmed the girls, whose talents he described as “astonishing”. He said they also needed financial support to chase their dreams. “We need sponsors, otherwise we would be unable to realize the dream of releasing the album.”

He said he had ignored abuses when he was tagged and threatened on Facebook first in December. But it rattled the girls and their families. “They are just 15 and too young to face such abuse. They are hurt. They cried, but I tried to convince them to continue.”

He said they were doing nothing wrong and they were carrying forward the glorious tradition of Kashmiri Sufi music dedicated to love of the Prophet. “We do not know who these people are and want to get to the bottom of this.”

The 22-year-old said they were looking for more government support for over 40 music bands in the Valley. “People would be encouraged if they see a future in this profession and we need the government’s support for it.”

He said they have trying to get an appointment with the CM for over a year. “I expect Omar Abdullah, a music lover, to support us,” he said. “I have met (former chief minister) Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) Saab. He was very encouraging and so are the common people, who are happy with us as we represent Kashmir.”

Lawyer Mohammad Ashraf said social network sites have been used to instigate violence and malign others to settle personal scores despite the cyber crime laws. “The police have set-up a wing to deal with it.”

Organizers of late Jagjit Singh’s concert some years back faced similar abuses.


Instead of punishing the men in uniform who tortured two young men, the J&K Police is targeting those who exposed the act.
Baba Umar

January 17, 2013, Issue 04 Volume 10

Exposed Video grab of J&K policemen stripping a youngster before thrashing him

Exposed Video grab of J&K policemen stripping a youngster before thrashing him

WHAT WAS hidden in police lock-ups so far is slowly coming out in grainy videos from the Kashmir Valley. A video clip uploaded on YouTube recently shows personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police stripping two young men naked before whipping them with belts.

The two-minute video clip titled ‘Kashmir: Indian militiamen assault detained Kashmiri teenagers’ — apparently shot with a cell phone by a policeman inside what is believed to be a police station in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district — shows a group of policemen forcibly taking off the two youngsters’ clothes and thrashing them, while the two keep pleading that they are not guilty.

After the video went viral on the Internet from 8 January, the police filed an FIR (No. 12/2013) under Section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act at the Baramulla police station. Under the controversial section, those who send “false and offensive messages through communication services” can be jailed for upto three years. Rights activists in the state say the police are targeting the whistleblower instead of taking action against those seen torturing the young men on the video.

“The FIR has been lodged against the person who leaked the torture episode. But there is no investigation into the role of those who were watching the crime and taking sadistic pleasure in it,” says Khurram Parvez, a Srinagar-based rights activist. “Had this video been about a similar incident outside Kashmir, the entire nation would have demanded answers.”

This is the latest in a chain of videos from Kashmir to have emerged on social networking sites and YouTube. In 2011, a video clip showed a soldier of the Indian Army shooting an unarmed man point blank after pulling him out from the rubble of a demolished house. The army did not question the authenticity of the video and claimed that the man shot dead was Pakistani militant Ahsan Bhai.

In September 2010 a three-minute video clip titled ‘Indian Army repeating Abu Gharib in Kashmir’ showed CRPF and policemen parading Kashmiri boys naked in Sopore town of north Kashmir. The video triggered massive outrage against the security forces, and Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Shiv Murari Sahai promised a fair investigation. More than two years later, the probe is yet to pin down those responsible for the atrocity.

Reacting to the latest video clip, top politicians have sought an impartial probe and demanded that a case be filed against the policemen who tortured the two youngsters. PDP leader and former CM Mehbooba Mufti says the subsequent FIR lodged by the police is “yet another incident of silencing the whistleblowers.” Mufti believes such incidents are routine in the state. In 2010, more than 120 boys were shot dead, 95 percent of them students, and yet no justice was done, she says.

Promising to take up the issue with the government, Mufti says the Delhi-based media has glossed over “such a heinous act under the garb of security and nationalism”. The ruling National Conference’s senior leader and J&K Law Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar declined to speak with TEHELKA. “Let me enquire from the police officials first,” he said.

MEANWHILE, POLICE officials say they are investigating the veracity of the video. “The probe may throw up a lead against the officers who stood by doing nothing when the boys were being thrashed.”

Section 66(A) of the IT Act was used in this case even as a public interest litigation against the controversial clause has already made its way to the Supreme Court. SC lawyer and cyber law expert Pavan Duggal says the section is used to gag freedom of speech. “If the video shows police atrocity, it was wrong to file a case under the IT Act.” Agrees Brinda Karat of CPM, who says, “Section 66(A) is being misused to give impunity to the police.”

Anil Parashar, an official of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the country’s apex statutory human rights body, told TEHELKA that the video needs to be examined first. “If we find a violation of rights, then the NHRC will help the victims get justice.”


Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)
Cordially invites you

for a
Public Meeting/Discussion
“Impunity for Alleged Perpetrators and Quest for Justice in Jammu & Kashmir”
On the 24th Jan 2013, Thursday
Between 1pm—5pm at Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi.

Speakers and Discussants:
Pervez Imroz, Arundhati Roy, Nivedita Menon, Karthik.

Asish Gupta & D. Manjit
Secretaries, PUDR

(N.B: Please see the following statement of PUDR)

People’s Union for Democratic Rights
Press Statement

PUDR welcomes study on ‘Alleged Perpetrators’ on the culture of impunity in Jammu & Kashmir. Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) welcomes the release of the
study “Alleged Perpetrators” by the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK) and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)   on the culture of impunity ubiquitous in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. PUDR acknowledges that this is the first ever study in India which has broken the cover of anonymity which protects the perpetrators by raising the principle of ‘individual criminal responsibility’ which is well established under International Criminal Law starting with Nuremburg Trials and several UN tribunals.

Equally it raises the principle of Command Responsibility and principle of Joint Criminal Enterprise which too forms part of International Criminal Law. The Indian State ‘authorizations’ to armed forces to carry out every kind of operation, often without adherence to laws and norms under draconian legislations such as AFSPA  on the pretext of combating militant violence while simultaneously being in breach of bringing India’s domestic laws in line with International Conventions such as against Torture, Enforced Disappearance and Genocide compounds the impunity extended to India’s security forces because certain crimes are non-justiciable under Indian’s domestic law.

The study exposes the state of impunity through a study of 214 cases, using information garnered from official State documents. The documents include FIRs, statements before police and /or magistrates, police final reports, High Court petitions, objections, other documents forming a part of the court record such as compliance reports, status report, judicial enquiries, SHRC documents from complaints to objections, police submissions and final orders; the documents in custody of the State itself arraign the armed forces and the police of culpability in specific crimes. But the study also supplements these documents with testimonies of victims and other witnesses.

The study successfully refutes the claim of the Indian state that commission of crimes is an aberration than policy. It indicts the Indian State for pursuing a policy which engenders the state of impunity by listing 500 individual perpetrators, which include 235 army personnel, 123 paramilitary personnel, 111 Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel and 31 Government backed militants/associates. The list of perpetrators includes 2 Major Generals, 3 Brigadiers, 9 Colonels, 3 Lt. Colonels, 78 Majors and 25 captains of the Indian army as well as 2 Additional Director Generals of central para-military forces, 2 DIGs and 12 commandants. It also indicts a DG of Police and a serving IG of police.

The study shows how State violence is institutionalized through a culture of institutional impunity to the state forces where the police, the judiciary and other organs of the government perpetuate the state of human rights violation. This has resulted in enforced and involuntary disappearance of an estimated 8000 persons, besides more than 70,000 deaths, and disclosures of more than 6000 unknown, unmarked and mass graves as of November 2012. There is hardly any prosecution and conviction of the perpetrators. The unwillingness of the Indian State is revealed in the mass grave issue where the Kashmir Home Department on 19 October, 2012 expressed inability to carry out DNA tests because there are no more than “15-16 recognised labs in the Government as well as Private Sector”.  And then turns the entire issue into a farce when they ask that the blood relative should indicate “with fair amount of certainty the exact location of the graveyard and the grave”!

The study highlight that the state structure specifically sanctions commission of crimes through provisions such as the system of cash incentives, awards and out of turn promotions for anti-militancy operations, and prioritizing for the victims the system of monetary compensation over justice. The venerable Supreme Court has also ended up shielding criminals by upholding in the Pathribal fake encounter case denial of sanction for prosecution under AFSPA thereby raising yet another wall to protect the perpetrators.

The recent Universal Periodic Review by UN agency tasked with human rights, on India, revealed that Indian Government has rejected 67 recommendations out of 168 made by the committee which had among other things asked the Indian State to repeal AFSPA, and to ratify and bring domestic laws in accordance with International Convention Against Torture, Enforced Disappearance and Genocide. This blatant refusal by the Indian state currently engaged in taking its claim to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council only lends credence to the study which concluded by indicting India State and establishing that victims of armed conflicts stand little chance to get justice from Indian state institutions because they are themselves implicated in the perpetuation of impunity.

PUDR in extending solidarity with IPTK/APDP demands:
•         Adherence to domestic and international obligations and punishment to all perpetrators of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
•         Withdrawal of security related legislations that are in contravention of international humanitarian laws and norms.
•         Ratification of Convention Against Torture, Convention Against Genocide and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance by the Government of India.

Asish Gupta and D. Manjit


Jammu and Kashmir may have failed to hog media headlines in recent times, but stories of personal tragedy have continued to unfold in the picturesque valley, without respite. These are stories of young men who the government and the army believe to be ‘terrorists’ who got what they deserved. But the relatives of these ‘terrorists’ insist it was atrocities by the State that pushed these men into the folds of militant outfits. Baba Umartraces three case studies of Kashmir’s new breed of militants.
Baba Umar

January 10, 2013, Issue 3 Volume 10

Photo: Abid Bhat


MUZAMIL AHMAD DAR, 24 Operation Theatre Assistant from Sopore

IN 2009, Muzamil topped his course to become an operation theatre assistant in a Srinagar hospital. But three years later, he was romancing an AK-47. The then Union home minister P Chidambaram described him as an “absconding Lashkare- Toiba (LeT) militant”. And on 21 October last year, he was killed in an encounter with security forces in north Kashmir’s Sopore town, 66 km north of Srinagar.

Born in a middle-class family of electronics traders, Muzamil once used to teach at a training centre run by the Rajiv Gandhi Literacy Mission. In a picture taken several months before his killing, Muzamil in his white cap and small black beard gives a confident gaze. His friends say he was working hard to pay off a family debt.

Muzamil’s father Mohammad Amin Dar, 55, will never forget 17 November 2010. “On that day, two men on the run from the police tossed a black bag into the kitchen garden of our house. My wife was there. Scared, she dumped the bag in the well. We never knew the act would take our son’s life,” says Dar. Soon, personnel of the army and the police’s Special Operation Group (SOG, a counter-insurgency force that human rights groups have often criticised for excesses) raided their house. Muzamil was detained along with his father and two brothers.

Dar sobs as he recalls what happened next: “I was made to watch as Muzamil’s brothers were forced to pull his legs in opposite directions as he sat bound to a chair. The cops were laughing aloud at his screams. It was humiliating.” Muzamil was charged under the Public Safety Act and kept in police custody for nearly 10 months, before the case was quashed. And when Chidambaram called him an LeT mastermind on 28 February last year, it shook the family’s faith in the system. “Police torture and harassment left Muzamil with no recourse but to pick up the gun,” argues Dar.


ATIR AHMAD DAR, 19 1st year Arts student from Sopore

ONCE EVERY week for the past few years, Atir would ask for 200 from his father Mohammad Yousuf Dar. This wasn’t pocket money, however. As the family later learnt, he was using this money to bribe the constables inside the police camp to beat him a little less. Atir’s journey from a boy who played cricket on the streets of Sopore to an LeT militant is another story of how some young men in Kashmir end up clutching guns after suffering atrocities at the hands of the security forces.

On 20 December last year, the villagers of Saidpora — 5 km west of Sopore town — woke up to the sounds of a gunfight that left five Pakistani insurgents and a local militant dead. In their rage, the soldiers not only blasted the houses where the militants had found shelter during the encounter, but also bulldozed over 170 apple trees. The local militant who engaged the troops in the gunfight before being killed turned out to be Atir.

Atir’s family treasures a photograph that shows him as a young boy in a blackand- grey striped sweater, sporting the hairstyle made popular by soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. Atir’s friends and relatives blame the police for his transformation from a student into an LeT militant. They accuse the police of “implicating” young men like Atir in false cases of stonepelting and meting out “collective punishment” to their families.

It began when the boy was tortured inside Sopore police station to confess that he was involved in a stone-pelting case of 2011. “He was released on bail, but only after he was mercilessly beaten up for four weeks. He told us how he was repeatedly kicked in the abdomen, caned and lashed with belts,” says Atir’s mother Sara Begum.

The harassment and torture did not end after Atir got bail. Begum says Atir was regularly summoned to the police station and the nearby Special Operations Group camp where the Station House Officer Gazanfar and Deputy Superintendent of Police Iqbal Tantry would allegedly monitor the torture.

“And one day in July last year, he just stopped appearing before the police and disappeared,” says Atir’s polio-afflicted brother Tawheed Ahmad Dar. He says there was no other way for his brother to escape the relentless harassment. Atir’s family never heard of him again until social networking sites flashed images of his bullet-riddled body on 20 December.


ASHIQ AHMAD LONE, 22 1st year Arts student from Shopian

ASHIQ WAS summoned to a police camp in Shopian almost every week. Though he never spoke about being tortured there, every time he went to the camp, his mother Zareefa Akhter, 45, made sure to keep some hot water ready to remove the blood stains from his body when he returned in the evening.

“Those days, at least, he used to come back home,” says Zareefa. Today, she fears that her son, who went missing in July last year, might get killed in a gun battle with the security forces.

Ashiq was a Class 10 student in 2010 when he had first strayed into militant ranks. However, he returned after 15 days and spent the next two months in police custody. And immediately after his release, he opened a grocery shop in his village and enrolled in a nearby college to study arts. But the ordeal had, in fact, just begun.

Ashiq was often summoned to the SOG camp in the area, where he was tortured every time. This continued until July last year when he went missing again and joined the militants.

The police regularly harassed the family and also offered to help Ashiq get a government job if he surrenders. “We don’t trust the police. They first made Ashiq a militant by subjecting him to torture and abuse, and now they promise to give him a job,” says Zareefa.

IN KASHMIR, police harassment of local youth is a problem for the army as well. A senior official of 44 Rashtriya Rifles told TEHELKA: “Police harassment is not a new thing. The army mostly focusses on foreign elements, but the police is sparking this conflict again. That’s why there are more young men at army recruitment exercises than at police job rallies.”

In all the three cases above, the police has dismissed the relatives’ version as “rubbish and propaganda”. Sources claim nearly 40 boys have joined the Hizbul Mujahideen and the LeT in 2012 alone, most of them educated and coming from welloff families. This is a considerable figure keeping in view the total number of militants (223, according to police figures) in the state.

Kashmir’s new militants may be a mere addition to this statistic, but for the majority of its people, they are “martyrs” created as a result of the “atrocities perpetrated by the police and army”.


With two years remaining for Assembly elections in the state, Abdullah said he will approach the Centre again and make a case for partial withdrawal of the AFSPA

J&K CM Omar Abdullah hands a cheque to a worker in Srinagar. PTI photo

Jammu (PTI): Pushing for partial lifting of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday 7 January asked all stakeholders concerned to shed rigidity to help take a decision based on the ground situation and for the benefit of people of the state.

“It’s surprising that whenever we have talked about lifting of AFSPA, certain vested interests have been working overtime and making projections as if we want it to be removed from the entire state whereas we want it to be lifted from certain parts only,” Omar, who completed four years as the head of the National Conference-Congress coalition government Sunday, said.

With two years remaining for Assembly elections in the state, 42-year-old Omar said he will again approach the Centre and make a case for partial withdrawal of the AFSPA.

“It was never a political issue or an emotional argument from us. Our stand has always been based on sound logic and a realistic assessment of the ground situation,” he said.

Questioning the claims of ‘vested interests’ that partial withdrawal of AFSPA will see a rise in militancy, the chief minister asked “whom are they trying to fool? This is an insult to the Army and other security agencies who are manning the border. Those propagating such an idea indirectly mean that Army is doing nothing. This is an absolute misinformation campaign launched to demoralise the Army, CRPF and state police.”

“First and foremost I never advocated lifting it from areas close to the Line of Control or so. I have suggested that it could be lifted from areas like Srinagar and Jammu cities,” Omar said in reply to a question about apprehensions that the areas, where the AFSPA will be withdrawn, would become a safe haven for terrorists.

Asked about the response for his attempts so far on the AFSPA issue, the Chief Minister said, “We have not been successful but this does not mean that we should not try. We are trying and I know for sure that something positive will emerge.”


By Izhar Nazir Ali, Kashmir reader

Published: Sun, 06 January 2013


Pattan: It was a chilly January morning. Flakes of snow had just started descending from the overcast sky. Like every day, Ali Mohammad, then 52, moved his coach to ferry passengers. By the time the bus reached near Sopore town, and Mohammad lifted his foot from the accelerator, it had turned into a mobile mortuary. Glass pieces spread over the floor, seats drenched in blood, bodies piled up. Fifteen dead and many injured. Mohammad was the only survivor in the ill-fated bus as the tragic day in the bloody history of Kashmir came to be known as the Sopore massacre of January 6, 1993. At least 45 unarmed civilians were killed in cold blood—many reports put the toll at 54—and about 350 shops set ablaze by paramilitary BSF men to avenge the killing of two of their colleagues by militants earlier in the day.
Twenty years after the event, Mohammad says the “carnage will haunt me till death. Many years have passed but I can still hear the screams of innocent people. I remember the face of a former bus conductor who was talking to me before he was shot dead. I can’t forget another youth who was gunned down outside the cinema when he ran for his life. I can’t forget how people entered the shops to save their lives but were charred alive,” 72-year-old Mohammad told Kashmir Reader at his modest single storey house in north Kashmir’s Pattan town.
Narrating the events of the day that saw Valley exploding with anger, Mohammad, who was then a driver with government-run State Road Transport Corporation, said: “Around 11 am that day, as usual I moved the coach (JKY/1901) from bus stand to Bandipore district. With dozens of passengers onboard, I had to abruptly stop the vehicle on reaching the town square. The people were running. No one knew what was going on. In the meantime, a BSF party carrying an injured trooper passed by.”
“Boondh daalo saalon ko (kill all these…),” the officer leading the party, Mohammad said, ordered his men. “We were silently watching troopers firing in all directions. Suddenly karakulli cap of my friend Abdur Rashid, the former conductor, fell down. I bowed to pick it up. In the meantime, a bullet smashed the front window of the bus. I got up and saw Rashid dead. Within seconds, two BSF men boarded the bus from the front and the rear doors and started firing indiscriminately at the passengers. The cries for mercy and screams of the civilians went unheard in the bursts of gunfire.”
As the guns were booming, Mohammad says, he quickly jumped out from the driver’s door and crawled to take shelter in the nearby Samad Talkies, an erstwhile cinema. Outside, he said, two BSF men were firing on the civilians “as if the victims were flies.”
“A young boy ran in front of me. He too was shot dead by the troopers. I don’t know how I survived. I don’t know why BSF men didn’t notice me while I was running towards the cinema.”
Mohammad’s belief that the cinema was a safe place was proven wrong. “Scores of men, women and children who had taken refuge inside the hall were crying for help after the cinema was set on fire by the troopers. The flames dashed hopes of our survival. We just gave up. We thought our end was near. Suddenly, I noticed there was a window in the rear that led to a graveyard. We smashed the window and ran to save our lives.”
When the dust settled, Mohammad says he revisited the spot in the evening to retrieve his vehicle. “When I boarded the bus, I saw glass spread all over. Blood drenched seats. It was a horrible scene. I just fled away leaving the vehicle there.”
After the massacre, Mohammad says, he boarded a Srinagar-bound bus that was coming from the frontier Kupwara district. On reaching near Sopore bridge, the BSF men, he says dragged the passengers from bus and thrashed them savagely.
“They didn’t spare anyone. They thrashed men, women and children with batons and rifle butts. They were angry over the death of their colleague. However, for them the slaughter of 54 civilians didn’t matter at all,” he adds.
Back home, Mohammad’s village was in mourning as news had spread about his death in the massacre. “My name had figured in the list of martyrs. My colleagues and officials had thought I was dead. They even visited my house to offer condolences to my family,” he says.
“Incidentally, a man had died in my village. My colleagues and officials came and offered prayers at his grave presuming it to be mine,” he adds with a smile.
Mohammad says the events of January 6,’93 left an “indelible mark on my heart and mind.”
“Since then, I haven’t visited Sopore. I don’t drive anymore. I shouldn’t be alive. I survived thrice on that day. Some divine help saved me from the clutches of death,” he add