For the first time in the past 25 years of strife in Kashmir, the Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Wednesday released a detailed report on use of force, civilian killings and fate of government probes in the Valley, especially in 2015. Mirwaiz said the report is an eye-opener for the coalition government as it “contains facts on rights abuses in Kashmir this year.”
The 25-page report, prepared by the Hurriyat’s Human Rights Wing headed by Manan Bukhari, paints a grim picture of rights violations. “This is for the first time that any pro-freedom organization has documented everything that happened in a year. We plan to put the report in public domain and present it to various international bodies to seek an end of human rights violations in Kashmir,” Bukhari told .
The report reads that imposition of “curfew every second day”, restrictions on people’s movement and traffic, freezing of internet services, clashes with forces, people getting killed and injured are “evidence of the fact that the ground situation in Kashmir has remained unchanged.”
“The fact is that the situation has deteriorated further in 2015. This year the killing of people, incidents of violence, border firings and curbs on public movement remained unabated,” the report reads.
It states that 206 deaths in “violent incidents” were reported during this year. “Out of 206 persons, 53 were civilians, 41 forces and police personnel and 111 militants. Out 53 civilians killed, five were gunned down by armed forces personnel, four died in cross-firing incidents and 17 were killed by unidentified gunmen,” the report said. “Among those killed was one Burhan Bashir Bhat, a three-year-old toddler who was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on September 19 in Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.”
The report says five children lost their lives due to littered explosives and live ammunition in Kashmir this year. It said non-lethal weapons, especially pellets, have caused serious damages to 45 persons many of whom lost their vision.
“Similarly, the rampant use of pepper gas is taking a heavy toll on health of people in affected areas and is becoming deadly for people in densely-populated areas of Srinagar. The policemen and paramilitary troopers who fire these deadly chemicals also put their health and lives in danger,” the report reads.
About the juvenile detentions, the report says, 87 juveniles detained on the charges of stone throwing were lodged at Valley’s lone Juvenile Care Home at Harwan this year.
The amalgam, in its report, has also castigated the government for imposing curbs on internet, calling it “e-curfew.”
“The unprecedented blanket ban on internet services in J&K once again brought to fore the absence of substantive democracy for people who are used to the government imposing draconian curbs from time to time,” the report states. “Even during the festival of Eid-al-Azha, the government displayed sheer non-application of mind by snapping internet connectivity which amounted to infringement on basic rights of the people. People in Kashmir were cut off from the digital world and this e-curfew can be described as a virtual curfew.”
The report takes a dig at the government for ordering probes and confining them to papers only. “During this year, the government ordered at least eight inquiries into the killings and other human rights cases. Of them, six inquiries were ordered by the present coalition government while as other two during the Governor’s rule,” it reads. “However, these inquires haven’t yielded any results so far.”
The report also says in November this year, at least 1000 people, most of them pro-freedom leaders, were detained.
“Authorities launched a massive crackdown on the pro freedom activists and leaders on the eve of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s visit to the Valley,” the report reads. It also castigates the government over disappearance of three persons from North Kashmir’s Kupwara district who were lured by a Territorial Army man for jobs.
On the wave of terror unleashed by Village Defence Committees (VDCs), the report states the government itself has admitted the misuse of arms by VDCs. “And during the State Assembly session on March 3, this year, the government revealed that 197 cases have been registered against the VDC members in Jammu region. The question is why government isn’t disbanding this killer-force called VDCs despite having huge presence of forces in the State,” the report reads.
Talking to us, Mirwaiz said the report should act as an eye-opener for the government and it should stop beating drums and claiming that “it has been the protector of people of Kashmir.”
“If there is any conscience left among those in the government, they should take steps to stop human rights violations in Kashmir,” he said. “This year was no different than previous years; rather this year we saw worst form of human rights violations.”