Source: Kashmir Media Service
Washington, May 28 (KMS): The United States has castigated the Indian government for extrajudicial killings, torture, rape and disappearances by Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir and in north-eastern Indian states.
The State Department in its annual document released by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington said that there were reports that the government and its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings especially in areas of conflict, such as Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeastern States, and the Naxalite belt.
It said that that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act still remained in effect, which provided the Indian troops immunity from prosecution for acts committed by them. It said that the AFSPA allowed security forces to fire on any person and to arrest any person against whom reasonable suspicion exists without informing the detainee of the grounds for arrest.
The document also referred to the Public Safety Act and said that under this Act the authorities could detain a person without charge or judicial review for as long as two years. It maintained that the family members were not allowed access to the detainees in jails. The police, the document added, routinely employed arbitrary detention and denied detainees’ access to lawyers.
The report pointed out that prison conditions were frequently life-threatening and did not meet international standards.
Prisons were severely overcrowded, and food, medical care, sanitation, and environmental conditions were often inadequate. Potable water was only sometimes available. The report conceded that the police and army personnel involved in human rights violations were rarely held accountable.
The report also referred to the political prisoners in occupied Kashmir. On privacy rights, the report said that in occupied Kashmir, the authorities have special powers to search and arrest without a warrant.The document also mentioned an interim report submitted by the Human Rights Commission of occupied Kashmir that documented 2,156 bodies in unmarked graves at 38 different sites in districts in the territory. The report said quoting human rights groups maintained that military and paramilitary forces abducted numerous persons in Jammu and Kashmir. “Estimates of the number of missing persons varied. Human rights organizations stated there were 8,000 to 10,000 persons missing but in custody in Jammu and Kashmir,” it added.
The report also referred to the searching of vehicle occupants at checkpoints in the Kashmir valley, before public events in New Delhi or after major terrorist attacks. It also pointed out that the citizens from Kashmir continued to face extended delays, often as long as two years, before the Indian Ministry of External Affairs would issue or renew their passports.