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Damning report ‘Dark Days, Deadly Nights’ sheds light on harrowing atrocities in IIOJK

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Srinagar: A damning report titled “Dark Days, Deadly Nights” sheds light on the harrowing testimonies of Kashmiri civilians who fell victim to brutal atrocities committed by the Indian occupational forces, further highlighting the ongoing human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

This comprehensive collection of accounts, compiled by the Institute of Kashmir Studies (IKS), Srinagar, and reproduced by the Legal Forum for Kashmir (LFK), aims to expose India’s egregious violations in the region and raise global awareness about the plight of Kashmiris.

The report, spanning from December 1994, paints a grim picture of impunity enjoyed by Indian forces, revealing a chilling trend of extrajudicial and custodial executions. Shockingly, the month saw 33 such killings, including 16 innocent civilians and one government employee. The daily horrors faced by Kashmiris are exemplified by a surge in custodial killings, arbitrary arrests, and the humiliation and torture of government employees.

Human Rights Watch on 24 March 2022 highlighted the restrictions on freedom of expression, peaceful gatherings, and other basic rights of Kashmiri people. It criticized the Indian PM Modi’s oppressive policies and forces’ abuses have increased insecurity among Kashmiris.

It also denounced the special legal provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), and calls to be repealed due to its role in hindering accountability for HRVs in Kashmir and discussed how the Indian government has intensified its crackdown on journalists, civil society individuals, and political leaders without judicial review.

Journalists haven’t been spared either, with their offices and residences raided, and their professional equipment seized. Five Kashmiri journalists/activists/human rights defenders KhurramParvez, Irfan Mehraj, Sajjad Gul, Abdul Aala Fazili, and Majid Hyderi are in Indian jails as of December 31, 2023, some of them since 2021.

Routine cordon and search operations, coupled with crackdowns, subject Kashmiris to degrading identification parades, perpetuating a climate of fear and intimidation.

The report is a grim reminder of the widespread suffering endured by Kashmiri civilians at the hands of Indian forces. It meticulously identifies perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, providing crucial evidence for accountability and justice. Moreover, it serves as a wake-up call for the global community and judicial institutions, highlighting the alarming impunity enjoyed by the 900,000 occupying forces in IIOJK.

LFK’s relentless efforts in archiving overlooked investigative reports aim to bring these atrocities to the forefront, ensuring that the voices of the oppressed are heard and their struggles acknowledged.

In addition to exposing the horrors endured by Kashmiris, the report underscores key interventions by international human rights organizations, including the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Amnesty International. These organizations have repeatedly condemned India’s actions in IIOJK, calling for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in line with relevant UN resolutions.

The members of the European Parliament have written to the President and vice President of the European Commission regarding the grave HRVs in IIOJK. The letter highlighted that Kashmiri people have been subject to “intolerable suppression of their freedom and fundamental rights over the past seven decades”.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), has been wielded as a weapon to target Kashmiris and orchestrate a web of false charges/ perpetrate collective punishment. Such campaigns perpetuates an atmosphere of fear and injustice, silencing those who dare to advocate for self-determination, human rights, and justice. The NIA has been systematically suppressing dissent, branding legitimate expressions of apprehension as acts of sedition or terrorism.

The data presented in the report paints a grim picture of the ongoing atrocities in IIOJK. From January 1989 to April 23, 2024, a staggering total of 96,300 killings were recorded, including 7,333 custodial deaths. Civilian arrests stood at 170,354, with over 110,510 structures destroyed and thousands of women widowed or children orphaned.

One of the most heinous aspects highlighted is the weaponization of rape by the Indian military as a tool of war, with incidents like the mass rape of women in Kunanposhpora in 1991 standing as stark examples of this brutality.

Indian troops had gang-raped around 100 women of all ages from eight to eighty years old on the night of February 23 in 1991 during a siege and search operation in Kunanposhpora in Kupwara district. A woman was raped by the army personnel in a small hamlet near Batote in Doda district in the absence of her husband and in front of her child.

Moreover, India’s blatant disregard for UN resolutions, its repressive media policies, and the systematic targeting of journalists and activists further exacerbate the suffering of Kashmiris. The report also exposes the arbitrary termination of employees and the criminalization of resistance politics, illustrating the lengths to which India goes to suppress dissent in IIOJK.

In 2020, the IOJK administration began a process to terminate the services of 500 of the employees allegedly involved in anti-national activities. It was decided by a committee headed by then Chief Secretary BVR Subramanian, constituted to examine and recommend dismissal of employees from their services for partaking in anti-national activities.

The Indian authorities have so far terminated around 60 employees since April 2021 for allegedly “being a threat to the security of the state”.

Kashmiri natives suffer torture as a method of reprisals, a punitive measure, and a controlling tactic widely and extensively across the occupied territory. It is employed as a systematic mechanism to create a fear psychosis in the native population and to weaken the people’s resolve to resist the occupation. Amidst the haunting backdrop of Kashmir’s relentless turmoil, a grave concern casts its ominous shadow over the region.

In the face of such egregious violations, the international community must heed the calls for justice and accountability in IIOJK. The “Dark Days, Deadly Nights” report serves as a crucial tool in this endeavor, providing irrefutable evidence of India’s crimes against humanity and demanding action to end the cycle of violence and impunity in the region.

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