The fact that the Jammu and Kashmir Police has filed charges against a few of its own men, apart from some army and CRPF personnel (as mentioned to this team by Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda), is an acknowledgment of numerous instances of the illegitimate and excessive use of force through Kashmir’s long summer of turbulence. The incident at Pattan on July 30 falls within the majority of cases where serious investigations have not been undertaken.
In the circumstances, security forces have repeatedly breached the red lines which should not be crossed under any circumstances. Medical personnel, ambulances and other facilities have been frequently targeted when they should be under all applicable rules of engagement, exempt from the slightest threat of the use of force.
Since June this year, the Kashmir valley has been torn by mass protests which have been met with overwhelming force by Indian security forces. Curfews and closures have been frequent, often shading into each other. No less than 111 deaths have been registered, of which a large number have been of students and youth in the age group of 8 to 25 years. There have besides, been hundreds of cases of injuries, of both protesters and those who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The above are excerpts from an independent fact-finding team that went to the Kashmir valley at the end of October to go into the totality of the situation, principally to inquire into the causes for the unconscionably large number of deaths that have occurred in the current phase of mass agitation. The team comprised of academic Bela Bhatia, advocate Vrinda Grover, journalist Sukumar Muralidharan and activist Ravi Hemadri of The Other Media, a Delhi based campaign and advocacy organisation, at whose initiative the effort was organised. Each member of the team spent varying lengths of time in the valley, but in total, roughly about twenty-five person days were put in the fact-finding exercise. In groups or individually, the team met the families of almost 40 persons who had been killed since the beginning of the civil unrest.
For the first instalment of the Reports I and II – click link –