Human Rights

2017: a year worse than 2016 for the Kashmiris

Srinagar: In comparison to 2016, the graph of killings in 2017 showed an upward trend, said Annual Human Rights Report for 2017 released by Hurriyat (M) led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. As compared to 389 killings in Kashmir in 2016, there were 391 killings in the Valley in 2017, said the report.

“Out of 391 persons, 97 were civilians, 81 security forces and police personnel and 212 militants, while killing of one counter-insurgent was also reported,” said the 15-page report released by the conglomerate released here on December 30. The report added that killing of human beings, incidents of violence, border firings and curbs on public movement in Kashmir went on throughout 2017 accompanied with imposition of curfews, restrictions on people’s movement, freezing of internet services, people’s protest and security forces’ action, people getting killed and injured, use of lethal weapons by security forces as crowd control measure like in previous years remained unchanged.

Providing details about the number of civilians killed in 2017, the report said that 36 people were killed in security forces’ action and 29 persons, including eight Amaranth yatris, were killed by unidentified gunmen, seven in grenade blasts and eight in cross-firing incidents between security forces and militants. While nine persons were killed in firing or shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops, four persons working as bank guards lost their lives during attacks on bank vans, one person reportedly died of heart attack while running for safety during clashes, another died in petrol bomb attack, yet another person allegedly died due to suffocation caused by tear smoke shells and one more person lost his life due to stone injury during a stone-pelting incident. The report added that three civilians were killed in February,eight in March, 18 in April, 12 in May, seven in June, 12 in July, 13 in August, six in September, 12 in October, two in November and four in December.

Among 81 police and security force personnel killed in 2017, one police official was lynched by an unruly mob, the report said. It termed the incident ofa youth from Budgam, Farooq Ahmad, being tied to the bonnet of an army jeep by an army officeras “brazen violation of all law and humanitarian conventions.” The report further noted that incidents of disappearances and fake encounters had come down. But serious allegation of a fake encounter was reported by a family in Handwara area and the encounter took place in Hafrada forest of Handwara in north Kashmir in August. The report noted that this clearly serves as a pointer that such phenomenon do still continue.

Unabated use of Public Safety Act (PSA), arrests, illegal detentions and frequent crackdown on voices of dissent also remained unchanged, the report said, adding that the year witnessed raids byNational Investigation Agency (NIA) on houses of separatists, activists and some businessmen. “On the basis of these raids, the investigation agency framed a number of Kashmiri leaders in a case widely considered to be frivolous. They are presently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.”

The report highlighted that the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has not been provided with enough powers to force implementation. “Of the 59 recommendations made by the Commission this year, 44 have been rejected by the state government. It clearly indicates that the Commission has been reduced to an authority issuing only recommendations to the government, which the government either does not consider or declines to implement.”

Expressing shock over killing of Amarnath yatris in July and lynching of a police official in Srinagar, the report said, “Such fiendish acts cannot be justified.” Clashes between armies of India and Pakistan at the international border and Line of Control (LoC) consumed many precious lives on both the sides, the report said, adding, “It is also not hard to reason that most of the wrath of mortar shelling and small-arm firing at LoC is faced by hapless population residing on both sides of the fence.”

The report referred to Kashmiris being arrested and sent to jails outside the Valley, making them inaccessible to their families and the systematic abuse and ill-treatment the prisoners faced in jails. It also referred to the ban on Muharram processions and mentioned that Friday congressional prayers at the historic Jama Masjid here in old city could not be offered for 18 times in 2017 due to imposition of curfews and restrictions.

Furthermore, according to media-reports here, over 100 militants sneaked into the Valley throughLoC in 2017. While 108 militants infiltrated into Kashmir, 70 were killed during infiltration bids in different sectors along LoC, the reports added.