Forces, militants used excess force: UN Report

Forces, militants used excess force: UN Report

The report said that the security forces used excessive force after the death of Wani, but admitted that militants committed acts of human rights violations as well. File photo.

Indian security forces used “excessive force” that led to “unlawful” killings during protests in Kashmir post-Burhan Wani killing, a UN report said on Thursday even as it admitted that militant groups committing a “wide range” of human rights abuses, including sexual violence.

Quoting experts, the report by the 'Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights' (OHCHR) on the situation post-July 2016 after the killing of Wani on either side of the Line of Control also said Pakistan's military continues to support terrorist operations in Kashmir.

Calling for “comprehensive independent international investigation” into human rights abuses in both sides of Kashmir, the report asked India to “fully respect the right of self-determination” of Kashmiris and “urgently repeal” the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990.

It wanted Pakistan to “end the misuse” of anti-terror legislation to persecute those engaging in peaceful political and civil activities and expressions of dissent in the part of Kashmir controlled by them.

Referring to the killing of Wani and subsequent protests, the report said “Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries” besides a “wide range of alleged related human rights violations” throughout the summer of 2016 and into 2018. “One of the most dangerous weapons”, pellet guns, were used against protesters, it said.

“...this current round of protests appears to involve more people than the past, and the profile of protesters has also shifted to include more young, middle-class Kashmiris, including females who do not appear to have been participating in the past,” it said comparing the previous flare-ups.

While calling for the repeal of AFSPA, the OHCHR said this as well as the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act have created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardise the right to remedy for victims of rights abuses.

“Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges” in Kashmir,” it said. The government actions to contain protests also resulted in obstruction of basic medical services and education.

"There remains an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and to deliver justice for all people in Kashmir who have been suffering seven decades of conflict. People on both sides of the Line of Control have been detrimentally impacted and suffer from limitations or denial of a range of human rights,” the 49-page report said.

While New Delhi described the report as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”, “overtly prejudiced” and an attempt to build a “false narrative” to undermine India's sovereignty, the OHCHR said there is a need for ending the cycles of violence and “such a resolution can only be brought about by meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir”.

In its recommendations, the OHCHR wanted the government to probe all civilian killings since July 2016. It also wanted all cases of abuses committed by militant groups in Kashmir, including the killings of Kashmiri Pandits.

The report also highlighted the need for investigating all cases of sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by state and non-state actors, and provide reparations to victims and immediately order the end of the use of pellet-guns against protesters.

It also wanted an investigation into "blanket bans or restrictions" on access to the Internet and mobile telephone networks that were imposed in 2016, and ensure that such restrictions are not imposed in the future.

The OHCHR also demanded an independent, impartial and credible investigations into all unmarked graves in Jammu and Kashmir as directed by the State Human Rights Commission. Another recommendation was the expansion of the competence of Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission to investigate all human rights violations and abuses in the state, including those allegedly committed by central security forces. (ENDS)