A report published Thursday by two rights groups accused the members of India’s armed forces, including several high-ranking officials, of human rights abuses in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Despite the availability of evidence of human rights violations, India and its courts prevented fair investigations, alleged the report prepared by the Srinagar-based International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK) and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) over a span of two years using information from the official documents and witness testimonies.
The 354-page report, which studied 214 cases, identified 500 individual perpetrators, including 235 army personnel, 123 paramilitary personnel, 111 Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel and 31 government-backed militants/associates.
Among the alleged perpetrators were two major generals and three brigadiers of the Indian Army, besides nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels, 78 majors and 25 captains. Additionally, 37 senior officials of the federal Paramilitary forces, a recently retired director general of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and a serving inspector general were also accused of perpetrating the rights violations.
The report said that an estimated 8,000 persons had disappeared in the past two decades, in addition to the death of more than 70,000 people. It cited disclosures of more than 6,000 unknown, unmarked and mass graves.
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The report examines 124 killings, 65 disappearances, 59 cases of torture and nine rapes allegedly committed by the government forces from 1990 to 2011.
“Cases presented in this report reveal that there is a policy not to genuinely investigate or prosecute the armed forces for human rights violations,” a statement that accompanied the report said. “There is an occasional willingness to order compensatory relief, but not to bring the perpetrators to justice. On the contrary, alleged perpetrators of crimes are awarded, rewarded and promoted by the State.”
However, the groups said that the information available against the perpetrators were not conclusive, but added that the existing evidence warranted investigations and prosecutions.
Tens of thousands of Indian army and paramilitary troops are deployed across the disputed Himalayan region, claimed by both India and Pakistan.
The report alleged that the existence of the controversial laws such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990 [AFSPA], had compounded the impunity fostered by the state machinery.
Ever since 2009, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been advocating the withdrawal of the AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces, from parts of the state to reduce the army's presence in civilian-inhabited areas.
However, Defense Minister AK Antony said last month that hasty decisions could not be taken regarding the withdrawal of the Act since infiltration from across the Line of Control (LoC) had increased. The Defense Ministry and the Army have been strongly opposing withdrawal of the AFSPA from the state, saying that such a step could adversely impact the security architecture in the region.
The Indian government or the army has not responded to the report.
"We will have first to go through the contents of the report and then we will respond," Ali Mohammed Sagar, the law minister of India-occupied Kashmir, told the Associated Press.