On the eve of Human Rights Day, Indian army in Kashmir showed up with their report card. That army has punished its 124 personnel during the past 20 years for their involvement in human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
It was GOC Northern Command, Lt General Sanjiv Chachra who spoke and assured that inquiries into several other cases are going on.
“During past 20 years, 1524 allegations of human rights violations against army personnel have been received by the Government of India,” Lt General Chachra said. “42 of these allegations were found to be true. Each and every allegation was inquired into by an independent and autonomous body.”
The first rebuttal to General Chachra’s statement came from Dr Raja Muzaffar, a noted J&K RTI activist. “It is a confusing statement. Who are these independent and autonomous bodies which probed the rights violations by Army?” asked Dr Muzaffar.
And then came a detailed response by Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) against Chachra’s statement on Thursday.
“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,” Spokesman JKCCS Khurram Parvez said. “The Indian State is institutionally responsible for the crimes perpetrated on the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Parvez said the former Chief of the Army Staff General NC Vij on 21 May 2004 stated that two thousand complaints of human rights violations were received during the last 14 years. “Subsequently, General Vij claimed that 35 armed forces personnel were punished which included eight officers,” Parvez said.
But, in a contradictory letter to the National Human Rights Commission [NHRC] dated 24 May 2004, Parvez said, General Vij stated that 131 army personnel of various ranks were punished for human rights violations.
In 2000, the then National Conference Minister, Ali Mohammad Sagar claimed that in his party’s rule 210 army personnel were convicted, Parvez said: “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.”
The fact that in 23 years the Indian State has not granted sanction for prosecution in a civilian court under AFSPA sends a clear message, Parvez said:
“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.”
– Bilal Handoo