When dissent is choked, line between peaceful and violent protests blurs: Hurriyat HR report

When dissent is choked, line between peaceful and violent protests blurs: Hurriyat HR report

Says, besides killings, forces left a ‘deep sense of hurt in minds of youth’
Srinagar: The Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Thursday released a report detailing human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir in the year 2016.
The report, prepared by human rights division of Hurriyat (M), says that a total of 389 deaths in violent incidents occurred in J&K this year. Of these 389 deaths, 151 were of civilians, 80 of armed forces and police personnel, and 158 of militants. J&K had witnessed 206 such deaths in 2015, it said.
“Of the 151 civilians killed, 119 persons were killed in forces’ action. Among these 119 persons, two persons were extra-judicially executed. At least 18 persons killed by the forces had pellet injuries and eight persons died due to hits by tear smoke shells, while five persons died due to heart attack allegedly during the raids, etc, and four civilians were drowned during chase by the forces. At the same time, one person died allegedly due to suffocation caused by the tear smoke shells,” the report said.
The report said that two persons were killed in cross-firing between government troops and militants and 13 persons were killed by unidentified gunmen.
Fourteen civilians were killed in firing or shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops, and three civilians died due to accidents caused allegedly by roadblocks, etc, during the protests, the report said.
“Among 80 forces and police personnel killed during this year, two police personnel lost their lives due to attacks by mobs during protests. During the unrest a couple of death cases were mysterious and regarding a few civilians deaths, authorities claim that they died due to other reasons but the families of victims and other witnesses refute their claims,” the report mentioned.
The report further says that more than 16,000 persons were injured in the current year. Among them, more than 70% were hit by pellets.
“Around 1200 persons have been pelleted to blindness in one eye, including toddlers, teenagers and old-age men and women. More than 40 persons suffered pellet injuries in both eyes and lost eyesight. Hundreds received lifelong (crippling) injuries. Hundreds suffered fractures and other injures due to thrashing and beatings by the forces while hundreds of persons were injured in stone-throwing incidents. Over 3300 forces personnel were also injured in stone-throwing incidents during clashes,” the report said.
The report says that an arrest spree started right from the month of January when at least 50 youth were detained by police in downtown Srinagar from January 1 to February 17, on charges of involvement in stone-pelting.
The report says that in the month of January, in another incident, police rounded up at least 35 youth during night raids in Pulwama, after an 11-day-long agitation to demand a memorial for slain militants.
“Since July 8, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed one of the worst crackdowns in which more than 13,000 people were arrested, detained and jailed. A massive arrest drive across Kashmir started after the uprising on July 8, and hunt to arrest more is on,” it said.
The report said that 18 people were booked and subsequently arrested in Chenab Valley areas for participating in demonstrations that expressed solidarity with Kashmiris and condemned the killings of Kashmiri youths and the use of brute force to crush the uprising.
Mentioning the arrests under draconian PSA, it said that more than 670 persons including minors were detained under this “Lawless Law”.
“On May 31, in a written reply to a clubbed question of some legislators about the number of persons—including political leaders booked under PSA from 2014 to June 2016—the government said in the past two years (2014, 2015) and the current year (up to June 12, 2016), 240 persons have been detained under the provisions of the Public Safety Act of 1978 and the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic and Drugs Act.
“The government details reveal that this year the number of PSA detentions (percentage-wise in comparison to previous years) is on the higher side and in six months, 77 persons have been booked under the Act. Of the 77 booked under PSA during last six months, 20 have been released while 57 are under detention, the (government’s) reply reveals,” the report said.
About government curbs, the report said that from the beginning of this year up to July, Kashmir witnessed nine days of curfew and restrictions. But after the uprising that started on July 8, Kashmir faced the longest curfew so far in the 26 years of the on-going conflict.
“This curfew continued for more than 70 days with no breaks and it was extended to nights as well, in order to break the writ of separatists as they were calling for relaxations in the shutdown during the evening hours,” it said.
The report said that for around five months, Kashmir undoubtedly went through the toughest period in its history. It remained locked between the government curfew and the continuous shutdown called by the joint resistance leadership.
“During this year, Kashmir witnessed around 165 days of strikes and out of these 165 days, 12 days of strike were observed before the month of July. While as the number of strikes observed in districts, particularly in district Pulwama is higher,” the report mentions.
On the communication blockade in the valley, the report said that the blanket ban on internet and telecommunication services in Jammu and Kashmir was totally “unconstitutional and violation of basic and constitutional rights of citizens of the state”.
“Imposing any kind of ban on freedom of expression or on freedom of speech is highly objectionable and is unconstitutional and it also infringes the rights of persons. It is also against fundamental rights, legal rights and constitutional rights,” it said.
The report said that the average age group of protestors in 2010 was 18-30 while the average age group of protestors in 2016 was 10-30.
“Some of the protestors were younger than 10 and as compared to 2010, were much more violent. Because protests are completely banned in Kashmir, no matter how peaceful they may be, Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, prohibiting assemblies of more than four persons, remains in force for most of the time in the Valley. Assemblies, marches, graffiti, pamphlets, even silent vigils—all these are banned in Kashmir Valley. When all forms of dissent are banned, the line between peaceful protest and violent protest becomes blurred. Apart from it, large scale deaths and injuries at the hands of the government forces left a deep feeling of hurt in the minds of the youth,” the report says.
Criticising the media gag in the Valley, the report said that during this year the worst infringement of press freedom came in shape of the Government Order dated October 1, whereby District Magistrate Srinagar, in exercise of powers under Section 144 CrPC read with Section 3 of The Jammu and Kashmir State Newspapers (Incitement of Offences) Act, 1971 Svt (1914 AD) and Section 10 of The Jammu and Kashmir State Press and Publication Act, 1989 Svt (1932 AD) banned printing and publication of daily newspaper “Kashmir Reader”.

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