Contesting the statement of army about the human rights, Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a rights group active in Jammu and Kashmir has said that Indian army position is an attempt to confuse the reality of the Indian States human rights record in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pertinently, on the eve of the December 10, 2013 Human Rights Day, Lt. General Chachra ordered that there be “zero human rights violations” and claimed that the Northern Command of Indian army has received 1,524 allegations of human rights violations during the past 20 years and out of which 42 cases from Jammu and Kashmir involving 124 army personnel were found true following investigation into each of them by an “independent and autonomous body”.
“The recent statement of the Indian army must be understood to be nothing but a part of the 2011 army doctrine – WHAM [Winning Hearts and Minds] – an attempt to mislead the people of the true role and intentions of the Indian State, as the Indian State is institutionally responsible for the crimes perpetrated on the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” a JKCCS statement said on Thursday.
CCS has said that over the last 23 years, there have been thousands of cases of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial executions, rapes, torture and other violations.
The statement said, “Additionally, over the last 23 years, only a fraction of cases against the armed forces have been recorded in the form of First Information Reports. Against this background, 1524 allegations are miniscule and not even remotely close to the actual figure of allegations against the armed forces.”
CCS said that it appears the Indian State is aware of this as it constantly contradicts itself adding the former Chief of the Army Staff General N.C. Vij on 21 May 2004 stated that two thousand complaints of human rights violations were received during the last 14 years and that “Most of them were found incorrect. 35 armed forces personnel were punished which included eight officers. Some of them were dismissed from service and later on jailed.”
“But, in a contradictory letter to the National Human Rights Commission [NHRC] dated 24 May 2004, he stated that 131 army personnel of various ranks were punished for human rights violations,” CCS said.
More recently, on May 6, 2012, army revealed to the media that 1532 allegations were received, out of which 995 were from Jammu and Kashmir, and 961 were found false and 59 personnel from Jammu and Kashmir were punished. “Therefore, between May 6, 2012 and December 9, 2013, the total number of allegations in Northern Command inexplicably comes down by 8, but the number of personnel punished in Jammu and Kashmir goes up to 124 from 59 in just one year. The lies of the Indian army obviously have not been consistent as in 1st November 2007 the GOC 15 Corps, A. S. Shekon mentioned to the media that 85 army personnel have been punished between 1990 and 2007,” the statement of CCS said.
It added that in the year 2000, the then National Conference Minister, Ali Mohammad Sagar claimed that in his party’s rule 210 army personnel were convicted. “It is surely in contradiction to what army has been claiming and therefore it can be assumed that such politicians are promoting lies when it comes to army’s culpability and misleading their own people,” it added.
The statement said, “It is clear that the Indian army only carries out court-martials when pushed to do so by public pressure that leads to police investigations. Therefore, presumably, it is the investigations of the Indian State run police that have so consistently been disregarded by the Indian army i.e. the Indian army agrees with only 3% of the police investigations.”
The CCS alleged that there is no transparency, RTI applications for information relating to the court-martial processes are routinely ignored and/or dismissed. “In fact, even the present army statement is not accompanied by any details, no names of victims, detailed allegations or record of court-martial proceedings. No information that could allow the public to critically analyze the human rights record of the Indian army.”
“JKCCS has in its possession, and has already made public, the only information provided by the Indian army on court-martials between 1990-2011 in Jammu and Kashmir, two lists dated March 28, 2012 and June 18, 2012 pertaining only to the Rashtriya Rifles, and a separate communication dated June 22, 2012 relating to one Rashtriya Rifles court-martial. A total of 29 court-martials are provided in the first list, and 53 in the second. Accounting for overlaps between the lists, and adding the case in the third communication, the total number of court-martials is: 58,” the statement said.
The statement further added that based on information provided in the RTI, except in three cases, there is no way to discern whether these court-martials relate to violations against civilians or other army personnel. “But based on other available information it appears only a total of 5 cases in these lists relate to civilians,” the statement said adding only 9 Officers appear to be involved in all these court-martials.
“Further, what is clear is that of these 58 cases, 20 appear to be quite clearly related to more minor crimes i.e. not murder or sexual assault including rape. Of the remaining 38 cases, appropriate conviction/punishment appears [as there is no record to analyze] to have been provided in only 21 cases.”
The CCS statement further said that of particular note are two cases of rape, one against Captain Ravinder Singh Tewatia [for the rape of mother and daughter in February 2000], and the other against Major Rehman Hussain [for the rape of mother and daughter in November 2004]. Captain Tewatia was convicted by the court-martial and sentenced to imprisonment for seven years. Major Hussain was dismissed from service as he was reportedly only convicted for outraging the modesty of the victims. Both alleged perpetrators challenged their decisions in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and received verdicts in their favor. While Captain Tewatia’s case is still pending further legal challenge, Major Hussain has reportedly returned to service. Therefore, the information provided by the Indian army would require further verification to ascertain whether the court-martial verdicts were subsequently overturned.
On December 6, 2012, IPTK/APDP released the report titled alleged Perpetrators that analyses cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. “The criminal role of 235 army personnel, including 96 from the Rashtriya Rifles is detailed in this report. No substantive response has been received from the Indian army to date,” the statement said.
It added that the human rights record of the Indian army stands for zero tolerance for any principles of justice. “The fact that in 23 years the Indian State [Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence] has not granted sanction for prosecution in a civilian court under AFSPA sends a clear message, the State forces will commit crimes, deny sanction for civilian prosecution, carry out their own court-martials in exceptional cases, and ensure zero transparency or accountability,” CCS statement said.