Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard during a one-day strike called by Kashmiri seperatists in Srinagar on October 22, 2018, a day after violence across Kashmir left at least 14 people dead. - Police and military officials said 14 people were killed on October 21 including six civilians who died when an explosion detonated among a crowd protesting against Indian rule. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP)
Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard during a one-day strike called by Kashmiri separatists in Srinagar on October 22, 2018. Photo: AFP / Tauseef Mustafa

India rejected a report by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC) alleging violations and torture in the militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir. It also refused to engage in any further communication over it.

Current special rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, torture, and right to health Agnes Callamard, Dainius Puras and Nils Melzer – referring to a June 2018 report of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) – had written a letter to the Indian government on March 18 asking about measures taken to address the issue.

The report listed 76 cases of torture and killings of civilians, including 13 incidents in 2018 alone. The 2018 cases included eight civilian killings allegedly by security forces, and five killings of civilians allegedly by militants.

In response to the letter, the Indian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva replied to the OHCHR on April 23 and said ”India does not intend to further engage with these mandate-holders or any other mandate-holders on the issue.”

”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 in June 2018, India rejects the remote report and doubts on its credibility and objectivity. The Report begets the question whether individual prejudices should be allowed to undermine the dignity and standing of the high office,” said the reply.

India also asserted that the right to life is constantly violated by cross-border terrorism in the state. It slammed the report and also accused the then UNHRC chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a Jordanian diplomat whose great grandfather was sharif of Mecca, of “individual prejudices.”

It stated that the report was “false and motivated” and that this was now a “closed chapter.”

The special rapporteurs in the letter had mentioned that the eight civilian killings allegedly by security forces in 2018 ”appear to be deliberate killings or excessive and careless use of firearms in the context of either demonstrations or social events.”

The letter also stated that the alleged misbehavior was contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified by India in April 1979.

Meanwhile, UN official also say that India is already in contravention of several Conventions it has committed to, especially the Standing Invitation Convention. Signed in 2011, it allowed all special rapporteurs to visit India. However, as reported by The Hindu, more than 20 visit requests, including to Jammu and Kashmir, are still pending.

The Hindu also received a response from UN officials saying that between 2016 and 2018, the OHCHR Special Rapporteurs had sent as many as 58 communications, and had received no response from India other than the April 23 letter on Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, another report citing details of alleged torture of civilians in many cases in Srinagar was also released. The report was released on Monday by two Jammu Kashmir-based human rights groups – Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society – and called on the UN to investigate.

The report, entitled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in J&K,” alleged widespread use of torture and brutality by the security forces in Kashmir since 1990, citing 432 case studies, of which only 27 cases had been investigated by the State Human Rights Commission.

According to the report, people allegedly tortured include women, students and juveniles, political activists, human rights activists and journalists. It also mentions sexual abuse and sodomy, solitary confinement, electrocution and hanging from a ceiling used to torture the detained people. It claims that civilians have been systematically and institutionally tortured by the state to curb dissent.

It further says that until now, no one has been prosecuted for the alleged violations due to the “legal, political and moral impunity extended to the armed forces.” The Armed Forces Special Powers Act is a law that gives the forces immunity from prosecution. It has been under severe criticism.

The Jammu Kashmir rights organizations urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the allegations in the report.

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