Rights abuses in the valley
AMONGST the many instances of brutal torture condemned by Amnesty International in its report released on Thursday to coincide with the International Day of the Disappeared, the one with far-reaching international implications is that of the Indian security forces’ handling of the insurgency in Indian-held Kashmir.
Many other governments have also come under scathing criticism for gross human rights violations, including torture. But Kashmir has attracted world attention because it has been the cause of much tension between India
and Pakistan – it has even led to wars. AI’s observations, therefore, assume great significance. According to Amnesty, torture by the Indian security forces is routine and “often particularly brutal”. AI refers to many atrocities that stem directly from the sweeping powers New Delhi has given to its security forces under the anti-terrorism laws in force. The soldiers use the preventive detention law with impunity and act as though they are above the law. Among other measures to end rights abuses in occupied Kashmir, AI suggests that India should ratify the UN convention against torture.
The Kashmiris do not seem to be getting enough of a benefit from the wind of change that is blowing across South Asia. Since the normalisation process began, especially after the two sides pledged in Islamabad in 2004 to pursue a “composite dialogue”, Pakistan and India have achieved much. The confidence-building measures already in place have perceptibly improved the geopolitical atmosphere in the subcontinent and enjoy the whole-hearted support of the people on both sides. This process should continue. It is in keeping with this spirit that New Delhi should address the human rights dimension of the Kashmir problem, which has been pointed out by many HR groups in India as well. An end to the rights violation and a reduction in the number of troops in the valley should help strengthen the dÃ©tente process.