India has once again denied the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights report on human rights abuses in Kashmir. The report highlights the abuses since the July 2016 uprising following the encounter of a young militant by the government forces. The Government of India rubbished the report as ‘fallacious, tendentious and motivated’. Over the years, since the occupancy by the armed forces, the government has been alleged of institutional cover-up. The armed forces who have been designated to safeguard India’s interests in Kashmir have been violating the people’s rights. Kashmiris have been crying about mass killings, torture, disappearances and sexual violence but to no avail; the cries fall on deaf ears.
The Government yet again has labeled UN’s Kashmir report as unjustified and counterproductive. Meenakshi Ganguly, the Human Rights Watch South Asia Director says the government should accept the findings and take prompt steps in support of an impartial international investigation. The report highlights the armed forces use of excessive force to suppress violent protests. The use of pellet-firing shotguns against violent protestors resulting in deaths and serious injuries are among the list of abuses. “Official government figures list 17 people being killed by pellet injuries between July 2016 and August 2017. In January 2018, the J&K Chief Minister told the state legislative assembly that 6,221 people had been injured by pellet guns.”
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The ‘Kashmir Conflict’ has its origins in the state’s disputed accession to India in 1947, erupted in December 1989 when Indian government troops launched a brutal crackdown on rising violence by armed militant groups. Twenty-nine years on, and still the armed forces are brutal against civilians, including the shooting of unarmed demonstrators and civilian massacres. The civilian protestors are now, taking the forces’ bullets with stones – its stones versus bullets. Since July 2016, there has been an upsurge in encounters, protects and violation of human rights. Through official statements and press releases, Indian authorities have acknowledged the increasing violence in J&K. The government had also called a ceasefire in the month of Ramadan in the hope of calming the situation.
Despite the escalation of violence, militant groups continue to command popular support throughout this Himalayan Valley, not necessarily for ideological reasons but because they are seen to represent the only alternative to the government’s repressive policies and widespread abuses by the security forces.