New York, January 27 (KMS): The New York-based rights organisation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its latest report has painted a grim picture of human rights in occupied Kashmir.

The annual report of 2017 released recently by the HRW stated that in May last year, the Indian Army gave a commendation to an officer who used a bystander unlawfully as a human shield during the Indian Parliamentary elections in Budgam district in April.

It said that the Indian government failed to review and repeal draconian law Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) – in force in occupied Kashmir and in parts of India’s northeastern region – that gives soldiers who commit violations effective immunity from prosecution. “At time of writing, the government had yet to comply with a Supreme Court ruling civilian authorities should investigate all allegations of violations by troops,” the report said.

The HRW termed the Armed Forces Tribunal order in July last year, suspending the life sentences of five army personnel who were convicted in 2014 for extrajudicial killing of three civilians in a fake encounter in Machil in 2010 as setback for accountability for abuses by the forces’ personnel.

It also said that the clashes between the protesters and Indian forces in the occupied territory that began in July 2016 continued throughout 2017, leading to frequent closing of schools and colleges. It said that in May 2017, a student was killed by paramilitary forces inside a government school in Islamabad (Anantnag) district during a protest.

The report also mentioned the internet shutdowns in occupied Kashmir. It maintained that by November 2017, internet was shut by the authorities 27 times. “In August, the government issued rules to govern temporary shutdown of the internet and telecommunications services in the event of a public emergency or public safety issue. However, the rules do not specify what the government considers to be a public emergency, or a threat,” the report added.


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