MONETORING DESK: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Monday (July 8, 2019) released its Second Report on the situation of human rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir from May 2018 to April 2019, which says the number of civilian casualties reported over the 12-month period may be the highest in over a decade, and notes that India hasn’t taken any concrete steps to address the numerous concerns raised in an earlier UN report.
In its new report, the OHCHR described that how tensions over Kashmir – which rose sharply after a deadly suicide bombing in February targeting Indian security forces in Pulwama — continue to have a severe impact on the human rights of civilians including the right to life.
Click Here to download OHCHR report on the situation of human rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir
The UNCHR reports says that according to the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), “Around 160 civilians were killed in 2018, which is believed to be the highest number in over a decade. Last year also registered the highest number of conflict-related casualties since 2008 with 586 people killed, including 267 members of armed groups and 159 security forces personnel.”
However, the report notes, the Indian Union Ministry for Home Affairs has published lower casualty figures, citing 37 civilians, 238 terrorists and 86 security forces personnel killed in the 11 months up to December 2, 2018.
The report also states citing the data of the JKCCS, 1,081 civilians have been killed in Occupied Kashmir by Indian security forces in extrajudicial killings between 2008 and 2018, and of the 160 civilians reportedly killed in 2018, 71 were allegedly killed by Indian security forces while 43 were killed by armed group members or unidentified gunmen.
The report notes that in Indian Occupied Kashmir, accountability for violations committed by members of the Indian security forces remains virtually non-existent.
“There is no information about any investigation into excessive use of force leading to casualties. There is no information on the status of the five investigations launched into extrajudicial executions in 2016. The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir did not establish any investigations into civilian killings in 2017. No prosecutions have been reported. It does not appear that Indian security forces have been asked to re-evaluate or change their crowd-control techniques or rules of engagement,” it says.
It also says that the Indian security forces continue to use pellet-firing shotguns in the Kashmir Valley as a crowd-control weapon despite concerns as to excessive use of force and the large number of incidental civilian deaths and injuries that have resulted.
Likewise, the authorities in Indian Occupied Kashmir continue to use various forms of arbitrary detention to target protesters, political dissidents and other civil society actors. It says that the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 (AFSPA) remains a key obstacle to accountability.
“Section 7 of the AFSPA prohibits the prosecution of security forces personnel unless the Government of India grants a prior permission or “sanction” to prosecute.”
The OHCHR report also states that in nearly three decades that the law has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir, but there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government. It says that the Indian army has also been resisting efforts to release details of trials conducted by military courts where soldiers were initially found guilty but later acquitted and released by a higher military tribunal.
Similar, according to the report, the Jammu and Kashmir continues to face frequent barriers to internet access as the authorities continue to suspend arbitrarily internet services.
The report says that no Indian security forces personnel accused of torture or other forms of degrading and inhuman treatment have been prosecuted in a civilian court since these allegations started emerging in the early 1990s.