In a series of tweets, Shehla Rashid, a Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement leader claims Indian armed forces are conducting night raids, picking up boys and ransacking houses since India-administered Kashmir’s autonomy was stripped two weeks ago.
Since India’s Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decided to revoke laws key to the accession treaty (Article 370) of India’s only Muslim-majority region Kashmir, the entire valley is facing a communications blackout and curbs on movement.
While many sections of Indian media are claiming that the situation is ‘calm’ in Kashmir, reports of illegal detentions, night raids and torture are slowly but steadily coming to the fore.
Notably, torture has been systematically used as a tool of military rule, describing it as “a tactic employed to break people’s will.” According to the sources, 430 individuals have been subjected to torture in Indian military custody, including beatings, electrocution, rape, cutting with sharp implements, burning with metal rods, and the use of prolonged solitary confinement.
However, torture is an ongoing issue in Kashmir, but the reality is that most cases are not even reported. On the other hand, The Indian government has consistently ignored allegations of human rights abuses in Kashmir. The government also recently ceased cooperating with a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, or OHCHR, inquiry into mass killings in Kashmir, stating that “India rejects any reference whether implicit or explicit or any quote by any human rights mechanisms or bodies from the remote report published by the OHCHR on the situation of human rights in Kashmir.”
Torture in Kashmir
Apart from verbal abuse, the other forms of torture that has been revealed include stripping the detainees naked (or down to bare minimum), beatings with wooden sticks, iron rods or leather belts, roller treatment whereby a heavy wooden log or an iron rod is rolled over the legs of the detainee, with extra weight applied to it by forces personnel who sit on the opposite sides of this rod, water-boarding, electrocution, hanging from the ceiling, dunking detainees’ head in water (which is sometimes mixed with chilli powder), burning of the body with iron rods, heaters or cigarette butts, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, sexualized torture including rape and sodomy, among others.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Indian forces use torture systematically against Kashmiris, this routinised form of violence has hardly ever become an issue worth public scrutiny within the Indian government, media or the general public sphere.
Though India signed the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1997, it has not ratified it. This has meant no effective legal is working to prevent torture or prosecute those in the military or police accused of using torture.