The horrific truth of the killing in cold blood of thousands of innocent Kashmiris has been confirmed yet again by the report of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) which became public on August 17, 2011. The SHRC report has revealed unmarked graves in the three districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipore in north Kashmir. The team identified 2,730 such graves in 38 graveyards, of which 2,156 contained unidentified bodies. This monstrous crime of inhuman proportions deserves to be condemned. Those guilty of the crime must be punished.
The investigation wing of the Commission headed by SSP Bashir Ahmed had in fact submitted its report more than a month earlier, but there was an attempt to suppress the same. It was only when a Right to Information (RTI) application was filed for obtaining a copy that the report was made public.
The report confirms what the Association for Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) had found in 2008 through its own consistent work of trying to trace the whereabouts, alive or dead, of disappeared persons in the state. According to APDP and other rights organisations, the number of such persons who were arbitrarily picked up by security forces from their homes at dead of night, or while on their way to or from work, school, college, etc., runs up to over 8,000 and the unidentified bodies in 63 unmarked graves numbers 2373.
While the state government was forced to respond to the RTI filed by the APDP for the release of the Report on August 17, the SHRC was quick to clarify that these are not final findings and were not formally endorsed by the Commission. SHRC chairman Justice Syed Bashiruddin is reported to have told the Press that, “In addition to this, we also have a report from the office of the IG, Kashmir police, under consideration. The police, the army, the APDP and other parties will be given a hearing on September 16 and only after the commission has fully heard, considered and adjudicated the matter will it make appropriate recommendations and suggest action to the government.”
The Central government has not responded yet to the report of the SHRC.
The Indian State is directly responsible for this brutal murder of innocent citizens and deliberate suppression of such criminality. It is the Central state which has placed the Kashmir Valley under the jack boots of over 6 lakh soldiers for over twenty three years. It has provided the armed forces with immunity through the notorious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Within the armed forces, it is common knowledge that the situation in Kashmir has been used by various army officers to actually murder innocents in cold blood and claim rewards and promotions for their “valorous deeds against terrorists”. Every time the people protest against the rape or murder of innocent people by the armed forces, the Central state refuses to take action against the guilty under the plea that this would affect the “morale” of the armed forces.
Fascist state terror has left thousands of families in Kashmir waiting for news of their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers. Many women have remained “half-widows” – not knowing the fate of their husbands. The courage of these mothers, wives, daughters and sisters is inspirational, as they continue their struggle for the truth to be revealed in the face of dire threats from the army and police to maintain their silence.
People all over the country have been horrified and very angry with the revelations of the Report. Obtaining the truth through exhumation of remains of victims of human rights violations is a necessary step to punish the guilty. The perpetrators of these crimes against humanity must be tried and severely punished.
The Kashmiri people are a courageous people with a proud history and culture. The Indian state has treated Kashmir as a colony and has subjected the people of the state to brutal state terror to suppress any expression of disagreement with this state of affairs.
It is clear to the whole world that the Kashmiri people want to be masters of their own land. They want to determine their own destiny, free from the jackboots of the armed forces of the Indian Union. All the nations and peoples that constitute our vast country have this right, which cannot be taken away by force. Force cannot be used to subjugate a people.
The terrible crimes committed against the Kashmiri people by the Indian state, in which over 80,000 people have lost their lives as a result of state terror, is an indictment of the Indian state and all the ruling class parties. They talk of “defending national unity and territorial integrity” to justify the use of fascist repression. However, it is precisely this refusal to address the political issue of the right of the Kashmiri people to be masters of their own land, and the fascist repression, which has led to the extreme alienation of the Kashmiri people from the present Union.
The brutal and forcible occupation of Kashmir by the Indian armed forces against the will of the people is unacceptable. The armed forces must be immediately withdrawn into the barracks, and the fascist AFSPA repealed. The people of Kashmir must have the right to a secure and peaceful existence. This must be the condition for discussion and resolution of any further issues.