STATE OF SIEGE
A record of 100 days in Jammu and Kashmir
16 October 2016
During the last 100 days of siege – since the killing of militant Commander Burhan Wani, Kashmir has witnessed gross violations of human rights in the form of extrajudicial executions, injuries, illegal detentions, torture, vandalism of civilian properties, ban on congregational religious activities, media gags, and a ban on communication and internet services, etc. Most fundamental rights have been curtailed through the imposition of continuous State curfews and restrictions.
Through the ongoing unrest, 100 civilians have been killed and 15,000+ injured through State forces action with 4500+ through the use of pellet shotguns with 1000+ civilians receiving eye damage. Peaceful gatherings and marches, including funeral processions and public prayers, have been met with violence as telecommunication and internet services remain by and large curtailed. The State has resorted to indiscriminate arrests with an estimated 8000+ civilians under illegal detention including 450+ under the Public Safety Act, 1978 – a preventive detention law internationally condemned as a “lawless law”. There has also been an intense crackdown on media, including incidents of beatings and shooting of pellets on photojournalists. Kashmir Reader, popular English daily has been banned as the State sending a clear message that there is no room for dissent or truth telling in Jammu and Kashmir today. There have also been attacks on ambulances, medical aid workers by the security agencies.
Interim fact-finding and verification by JKCCS has found that a total of 100 civilians have been killed over the last 100 days by State forces personnel. 61 of the killed civilians are from the four South Kashmir districts of Anantnag (25), Kulgam (13), Pulwama (13) and Shopian (10). In the Central Kashmir districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal a total of 24 people have been killed, with 13 people in Srinagar, followed by 10 in Budgam and one in Ganderbal district of Kashmir. In the three districts of North Kashmir, Bandipora, Baramulla and Kupwara, a total of 15 people have been killed– with 2 people in Bandipora, 7 in Baramulla and 6 in Kupwara.5 of the civilians killed are women. 5 people have drowned to death following their attempts to escape State forces attacks. The use of pellet shotguns has resulted in 18 killings. 80 percent of the killed people are youngsters below the age of 30. It appears that in only 7 cases have the police registered criminal cases recording the accurate circumstances of the killing.
The interim findings on the 100 civilians killed suggests that the State has used excessive and disproportionate force with an apparent intent to kill and not to disperse protesters or enforce law and order. Further, the present state of criminal investigations into the civilian killings is in keeping with past: impunity with a sustained effort to support alleged perpetrators.
An obvious casualty has been the ability of civil society and human rights groups to document and report on every day violations. The arrest of noted human rights defender Khurram Parvez, Chairperson of Asian Federation against Disappearances and JKCCS Programme Coordinator, on 16 September 2016 is symptomatic of State action over the last 100 days. Parvez’s unlawful arrest has seen a global campaign demanding his release. The state and institutional repression has been widespread with no accountability.
The present state of siege, violence and impunity in Jammu and Kashmir reaffirms the need for objective and independent human rights fact-finding. The UN High Commissioner’s request to allow a UN fact finding team would ensure that international processes of rule of law are allowed to collect evidence and independently verify the state of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.