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‘Investigate human rights abuses in Kashmir’ Human Rights Watch tells India

File photograph.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticised India for alleged human rights abuses by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and has urged Delhi to order an independent investigation into the killings of three people by the army that took place last July.

The army reportedly killed three persons in Baramulla district on July 18 whom they claimed were militants. However, the relatives of the dead insist that they were in Baramulla in search of work and had no connection to militancy.

In the spotlight is the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a law that effectively permits the army to abuse human rights with impunity. Jammu and Kashmir has been in turmoil since the law was imposed on the state since 1990. “There can be no end to the cycle of violence in Kashmir if security forces are not held accountable for their past and current abuses,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

Extrajudicial killings and the violation of human rights by the Indian army is not new to Kashmir. But the predicament of the Kashmiri people has exacerbated considerably due to the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in August 2019, which granted substantial autonomy to the state from the centre, a unique advantage enjoyed by no other state in the Indian union.

Revoking the special status of Kashmir was a central plank in the Hindu-nationalist agenda of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Not only was Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state, deprived of its freedoms but was also sundered into two centrally governed ‘union territories’: namely, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

An already militarised area was further inundated with troops and all connections to the outside world were abruptly cut off with prominent politicians kept under house arrest.

The current situation in Kashmir is one that instils trepidation in the population, with fears that Indian forces have been granted a carte blanche.

Read more from the Human Rights Watch here.

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