Instituted Impunity

If New Delhi failed to get itself off the hook in the Machil fake encounter case, it was due to the terribly hot summer that had followed, bring as it did renewed world scrutiny questioning the Indian state’s claims on enforcing accountability among its armed forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. Close on the heels of a ‘verdict’ the State may try to hold up as an example has come another report by civil society and human rights groups to remind governments in Delhi and Srinagar of the crimes they are trying to hide. Structures of Violence: The Indian State In Jammu and Kashmir prepared by the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian administered Kashmir (IPTK) and the Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and released on Wednesday documents 333 detailed case studies, identifying 972 members of the various wings of the armed forces alleged to be involved in grave human rights violations, and asserting that crimes like enforced disappearances extra-judicial killings, sexual violence  and torture were widespread, systematic and systemic in Jammu and Kashmir.

In December 2012, the IPTK and the APDP had, in a report titled Alleged Perpetrators: Stories of Impunity In Jammu and Kashmir, listed over 200 cases of enforced disappearances and 500 individual perpetrators from the army, the paramilitary forces, and the state police, which include officers of ranks ranging from Major Generals and Brigadiers in the Indian Army to a former and the then serving chief of the state police.

The ‘cases’ often pertain to youth picked up in the dead of the night from the homes, or whisked away from the street and bundled into waiting forces vehicles, never to be seen again by their families. Parents of hundreds of such victims have faced psychological and financial ruin in establishing the trail of their missing sons or visiting jails and interrogation centres in their search, only to come up against dead ends.

A system that claims itself to be democratic, with all its implicit notions of responsibility and accountability vis a vis the lives of human beings under its control, has not matched its claims. Three years have passed since the earlier report, and the system has failed to answer the questions it had thrown up, not to speak of seriously pursuing investigations in the cases it (the report) had highlighted. What further proof does one require that New Delhi has made impunity the agency with which to rule Kashmir?