Documenting the horror that was Kashmir

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The report containing pictures, graphics, charts and tables, documents the extra-judicial killings of 1,080 people and enforced disappearances of 172. It identifies 972 alleged perpetrators, which include 464 army personnel, 161 paramilitary personnel, 158 Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel and 189 government gunmen.

Among the alleged perpetrators are one Major General and seven Brigadiers of the Indian Army besides 31 colonels, four lieutenant colonels, 115 majors and 40 captains.

Others are 54 senior officials of the paramilitary forces and the following Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel: a retired director general of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, an incumbent additional director general of police, two inspector generals, two deputy inspector generals, six senior superintendents of police, and three superintendents of police.

The report also estimates the presence of armed forces personnel between 6.5 to 7.5 lakh across Jammu and Kashmir.

Other massacres which have been detailed and whose identified perpetrators have gone scot free include the 1993 carnage at Sopore (46 killed), Sailan (21 killed) Mohra Bachai (20 killed) and Chittisinghpora where in 2000 five innocent civilians were killed who were passed off as terrorists responsible for massacring 36 Sikhs during former US president Bill Clinton’s visit to India.

In addition to meticulous documentation of the systematic rights abuse and the identification of some of the major perpetrators, the Structures of Violence brings to light in detail the horror of the past two decades.

The report is about the complex interplay of the security and intelligence agencies, militants, pro-government gunmen and informers who sustained the vicious cycle of violence.

The report gives a horrifying picture of how violence had seeped into everything: from the larger politics to everyday social relations. The world that is invoked is one where social equations were overturned and hierarchies disrupted and one where victims were forced to live in compromise with the perpetrators.

A year after the Saderkoot-Bala massacre, Julie, the niece of Ghulam Qadir Dar was forced to marry Billa. “Now his wife’s brother’s family pressurises Ghulam Qadir Dar to give up the case on account of Julie and Rashid Billa having 4 children together,” states the report.

The report is replete with the documented cases of torture and sexual abuse. Ishfaq Ahmad Kotwal of Anantnag, who has been arrested multiple times since the age of 12, describes the torture methods which include removing toenails and burning the back, as inhuman. They also stuck heated needle into my penis”.

Similarly, Fayaz Ahmad Bhat of Pattan recalls how he and his brother were stripped in front of each other. “They would hang me upside down for 20-25 minutes and then put ice and freezing water on my body. Two to three persons would simultaneously beat me,” Bhat says. “For others, they would put petrol in the anus and pass electric current through the genital areas.”

In another case father and son were stripped in front of each other. The report primarily deals with the role of the army in the rights violations in the state. “Our primary concern here is with the role played by the armed forces, which are the central element to the security grid that constricts and regiments everyday life in many districts,” the report states. “We hold that it is the intrusive presence of this grid that is primarily responsible for the widespread violence and the systematic violation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.”

However, a large number of these incidents are a common knowledge in the state. The report has added the detail and background and also identified the perpetrators.

On the Sopore massacre, the report reads: “On 6 January 1993, personnel of the 94 Battalion, Border Security Force [94 Bn. BSF] headquartered at Fruit Mandi, Sopore led by their commanding officer Thangappan shot and killed 46 persons including one woman and at least two teenagers, injuring 10-20 others.”

The BSF personnel, the report adds, burnt down the Sopore Chowk area, on both sides of the Tehsil Road over a stretch of around two km including roadside areas of Shahabad, Bobimir Sahab, Muslim Peer, Shallapora and Kralteng.

The CBI was tasked to investigate the case by the state government on 23 January 1993. The agency only filed a closure report 20 years after on 16 July 2013, blaming the killings on cross-firing between militants and the BSF. “In its closure report it asked for the case to be shut, with no prosecutions,” the report reads.

riyaz@tehelka.com

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