Geneva, May 20 (KMS): Three special rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) have written to India asking for details on steps taken to punish or provide justice to victims and their next of kin in 76 cases of torture and arbitrary killing in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990.

The letter to the Indian government, dated March 18, is written by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Dainius Puras and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Nils Melzer.

It was made public on the UNHRC website on May 18 after a scheduled interval of 60 days, along with India’s reply that refused to provide any clarifications.

The letter relates to 76 cases of torture and killings of civilians, which include 13 just in 2018. These 2018 cases included eight civilian killings allegedly by security forces, and the rest by militants.

“In all these cases, the authorities have reportedly failed to conduct thorough, prompt and impartial investigations, so as to ensure that the rule of law prevails, and justice is done and steps are taken to ensure the non-recurrence of the violations,” wrote the three officials.

Reminding that the Human Rights Council had given them the mandate to seek clarifications from members, the letter asks the Indian government to provide details on eight issues, ranging from the outcome of the investigation into the cases to the steps taken to repeal the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act.

The letter also had a line stating that it took note of the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Kashmir, released in June 2018. India had rejected the report and implicitly accused the then UNHRC chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of having acted on his “individual prejudices”.

A month later, India’s response to the letter of the three special rapporteurs focused on the sentence referring to the UNHRC report.

Asserting that the report was “false and motivated”, India said that it was now a “closed chapter”.

According to the special rapporteurs, the allegations were contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified by India in April 1979.

They said that the eight cases related to security forces in 2018 “appear to be deliberate killings or excessive and careless use of firearms in the context of either demonstrations or social events”.

The special rapporteurs said that there was an anomaly in the filing of police complaints through first information reports in these cases. “It is not clear whether FIRs have been filed or whether magisterial inquiries have been undertaken, both of which the Supreme Court has ruled are mandatory for deaths involving the security forces,” they said.


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