Amnesty International has published a report “Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir“. The title of the report indicates that security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir are committing human rights violations and there is no accountability for such violations. But, as the organization admits that five security force personnel were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Machil extra-judicial execution where Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmand Lone and Mohammad Shafi Lone died in a single incident. This incident is one of the 13 case studies that report cites and three of the fifteen people allegedly killed by the Army. The fact that life imprisonment was awarded to the security force personnel indicates that due procedures are followed in alleged illegal killings.
This is not an isolated instance even among the 13 incidents that the report cites. In the case of Sixteen-year-old Zahid Farooq Sheikh was killed in 2010 by the Border Security Force personnel as he was walking home from playing cricket with friends in Srinagar, a court martial was conducted by the Indian Army. Many of the relatives of Zahid attended the court martial and gave witness. The Indian Army submitted to the court that Zahid was involved in stone pelting against the BSF personnel and in a retaliatory fire was killed. It is quite possible that the inflammatory propaganda material he received against the Indian Army provoking Zahid to act against the Army.
In yet another incident, Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam who was returning from prayer was killed by a CRPF peronnel. He was moving suspiciously as stated by the CRPF personnel and when challenged, did not stop. CRPF personnel responded to his disobedience and he was killed. A court martial was initiated in this case too, which were attended by family members of Mushtaq.
In the case of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, whose mother Aahaz Dar has created the petition hosted by Amnesty International, it is observed that Mustaq Ahmad Dar was an informer of terrorists, harbored arms and ammunition. He was identified by local Muslim informers and the Army reached him only after confirmation. There are many other cases among the fifteen cases that are highlighted in the report. Some people were previously arrested for terror liks and a few others were picked up for interrogation after identified by local informers and elaborate intelligence information.
At least the above incidents are sufficient to say that Indian Army and other security agencies have initated investigation into many allegations and followed procedures before closing the case. Thus, the title is definitely of “failure in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir” is wrong and misleading. The language used in the Amnesty International report is not supportive of neutral point of view (NPOV) and is biased against security personnel.
Officially the Indian Army is committed to high standards of compliance with Human Rights issue by announcing “zero tolerance” for human rights violations as reported in the report. But, having acknowledged the policy of the Indian Army, the Amnesty Report claims
“more than 96% of all complaints brought against the army in Jammu & Kashmir have been dismissed as “false and baseless” or “with other ulterior motives of maligning the image of Armed Forces.”The small number of cases in which complaints against personnel have been investigated and military trials conducted are closed to public scrutiny. Few details of investigations conducted by the security forces are available to the public. The military are notoriously reluctant to share substantive information about how they conduct inquiries and trials by court-martial into human rights violations. There is even less information publicly available about investigations and trials conducted by paramilitary forces. “
The Amnesty Report fails to provide the context and the background for the dismissal of complaints. The Amnesty Report describes the Indian Army as “notoriously reluctant”. Throughout the report a repeated allegation against the Army is that the investigations are not open for public scrutiny. While the Army has allowed family members to participate in the investigations, the constituents of general public, as per Amnesty Intenational, is not clear.
The report makes astonishing statements about prevailing legal provisions.
“With the continued existence and enforcement of legal provisions like AFSPA, access to effective legal remedies for victims of human rights violations and their relatives in J&K remains as limited today …”. Further, the report states its aim as “to expose the government’s complicity in facilitating impunity for security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, and challenge the de jure and de facto practices it uses to block justice for victims of human rights violations. This report challenges the use of sanction provisions under the AFSPA; demonstrates how the denial of sanction or permission has been routine and entirely lacking in transparency; and argues that the continued use of the AFSPA violates India’s constitutional guaranteed rights to life, justice and remedy”
Further the report concludes “By not addressing human rights violations committed by security force personnel in the name of national security, India has not only failed to uphold its international obligations, but has also failed its own Constitution.”
This report claims to
“military justice system (of India) violates international standards for fair trials. Further, it demonstrates how security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir have exacerbated this situation by routinely failing to cooperate with criminal investigations, civilian courts and government-ordered enquiries, and subjecting those pursuing complaints to threats, intimidation and harassment.”
These objectives and observations clearly indicative of misrepresentation of role of the Indian Army in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Further, it also indicates that Amnesty has a myopic approach in dealing with the issue of human rights. The report is silent about the role of a systematic misinformation campaign that is complicating the situation or implications of its demand of state police investigating the allegations against the Army. While making allegations of threats, intimidation and harassment against Indian Army, the Amnesty Report is consciously neglecting the role of civil administration in declaring an area as disturbed and the gravity of situation in the disturbed area to be faced by the security agencies.
In essence, the Amnesty International is failing to provide a soothing effect to the families of Kashmir who have lost their dear ones in an inevitable situation. Instead, the organization is irresponsible in unleashing a malicious propaganda against the security agencies and inciting the population against the government. The Amnesty International has an objective of working towards repealing death sentence and harmonizing the laws of India with the theoretical recommendations of UN. In order to achieve these objectives, it is creating pressure on Indian Government through these devious methods. Stopping Amnesty International is a first step in dealing with the underlying causes for Kashmiri unrest that the Government of India should implement on a priority basis.