Amnesty International’s prejudiced and outrageous report on J&K
Colonel Jaibans Singh (Rtd)
Amnesty International (AI) has, once again, come up with a highly objectionable report on Jammu and Kashmir titled, “Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir.”
As in earlier such reports that the AI has published, this one is also low on substance and high on rhetoric. Even a cursory reading makes it very clear that the research team set about its task with preconceived notions and a prejudiced mindset. The researchers were looking for inputs that would guide them towards a predetermined direction.
Statements with respect to the army and its functional parameters are generic in nature, giving a one-sided view. The efforts made to ensure zero tolerance to human rights violations by security forces functioning in the state, and the excellent results achieved thereof, do not find any mention in the report.
The report gives some case studies of alleged human rights victims in the state. These, however, are not supported by empirical evidence, nor have they been investigated in detail. The statements of those associated with the alleged victims have been recorded, and then, presented as gospel truth.
In conclusion, the report calls for a revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and an investigation into alleged human rights violations in the state by an “independent and impartial” authority.
The Indian Army operating in Jammu and Kashmir has the onerous duty of protecting the people of the state against violence engineered by diabolic foreign forces. In pursuance of their duties, the soldiers need legal protection which is being provided by AFSPA.
AFSPA does not give the soldier immunity from the law. It merely places the soldier under a different set of laws that are equally stringent, if not more, than the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
Take, for instance, the verdict of a recently concluded General Court Martial (GCM) convened to try soldiers accused of conducting a fake encounter in the in Machil sector of the Kashmir Valley. The investigation; charge sheeting and judicial procedure have been completed in less than four years. Punishment has been meted out to the guilty. Justice from a military court is fast and punishment is exemplary.
In the year 2001, post the 26/11 terror attack, the US passed the PATRIOT Act. The Act gives sweeping powers to the armed forces of the country, the Department of Homeland Security and the police. One wonders as to why the AI has nothing to say about the “draconian” nature of this Act.
The army would like nothing better than to sit back and enjoy the beauty and salubrious climate of Kashmir after handing over all internal security duties to the police. It has to stay involved as the lives of the people are insecure due to malevolent foreign designs. The AI should not be raising a voice against those who are risking their lives to protect innocent people.
The most amazing aspect of the AI report is the reference to those who are responsible for the turmoil in the state. The terrorists who have created and continue to create mayhem have been, very strangely, defined as ‘Armed Opposition Groups.’ Can it get more ridiculous than this?
The report does not address the aspects of promotion of terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan. It does not speak of the ceasefire violations, the infiltration bids, the many terrorist attacks across the state especially in the Kashmir Valley, in which scores of innocent civilians have been and continue to be killed.
The report is silent about the atrocities committed by terrorists on Kashmiri Pundits who were forced out of their homes and continue to live as refugees in their own country even today.
The report does not talk of the untold atrocities committed on the Muslim population by the so called Mujahideen (terrorists). It does not speak of the multitudes killed in cold blood, the women raped and children orphaned by terrorists.
It would have been good if the research team of the AI had found time to visit the many orphanages in the state where the young children who are victims of terrorism reside; many such orphanages, incidentally, are being run/supported by the Indian Army.
The report is also silent about the extreme inconvenience and pain inflicted on the people of Kashmir by the frequent shut down and lock-out calls by separatist forces at the behest of their foreign sponsors. What of the poor daily wagers who do not get to work due to the lock outs and whose families are forced to sleep without food? What of the children who miss school? What of the patients who cannot be taken to hospital? The list of woes is endless!
The separatists also use underage youth for illegal activities like stone pelting etc; thus putting their lives in danger and causing mental trauma to them. Surely the AI would be aware of this fact.
The report has maintained a deafening silence with regard to the areas of Jammu and Kashmir under forcible occupation of Pakistan where a well orchestrated process of colonisation and population engineering is underway. Pakistan has not given even basic rsights to these hapless people while taking away all natural resources that the area is well endowed with. The demographic patterns are being changed by blatant settlement of Punjabis, Pushtuns and Pathans in the area. It is these people who need international support against gross forms of human rights violation.
The report reinforces an existing strong perception of AI having a bias against non-western countries. It is for the better that the Government of India has deported Christine Mehta, the American researcher, who was part of the team that carried out these outrageous investigations and prepared this prejudiced report. Now the report should be thrown into the trash-bin, where it belongs.
(Jaibans Singh is a defence and security analyst. Twitter; @jaibanssingh)