By Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain
Conflict ridden areas often remain associated with large scale human right abuses. These assume horrifying proportions with highest degrees of militarization. States tend to conceal the human right situation through restrictions on media intimidations and targeting of human right activists. International groups working for human rights are not allowed to visit these areas. The security apparatus is secured from judicial scrutiny through legislative protections. Shielded from prosecution for human rights abuses the military and police apparatus becomes more lethal in targeting the rebellious population and those who work for human rights. This becomes an acute phenomenon associated with the places where military and police has to face hostile populations. Realizing the risks associated with human rights reporting United Nations has appointed a special rapporteur regarding security of human right activists. The situation doesn’t show any improvement even after appointment of UN rapporteur.
Indian-held-Kashmir is not an exception to this phenomenon. For last twenty three years it has experienced worst type of human right abuses ranging from torture, rape, custodial killings, and disappearances. Using of civilians as shields during military operations blasting and burning of houses too has occurred on a large scale. Rugged topography and primitive means of communication have kept most of these abuses shielded from international scanner. Discovery of mass graves now confirmed by police and hue and cry about 2010 Machil fake encounter have brought certain issues to lime light. But that is a fraction of the human right abuses Indian-held-Kashmir has experienced.
Reason for this lack of information is the deficit of human right reporting from the region. So many media persons and human right activists have faced the wrath of the system and lost their lives. These include advocate Jaleel Andrabi. Soon after his participation in the proceedings of UN sub commission on minorities in its annual session 36 year old advocate was taken in custody by one Major Avtar Singh of Territorial Army on March 8, 1996. The body was fished out of river Jhelum on March 27, same month. Ever since the family is running from the pillar to post for securing remedies from the judicial system. Despite identification of the culprit the available remedies couldn’t provide any relief to the family of the victim. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) requires prior permission of the Indian state for initiation of litigation against any member of the army or other central forces. The permission remains elusive most of the times and consumes a lot of time. Same happened in case of Jaleel Andrabi. Because of pressure from media and civil society the family finally managed to secure the permission and a case was registered against the culprit. But despite this the culprit was allow to sneak out of India and take refuge in Canada.
After so many years of struggle family managed to get an arrest warrant issued against the Major but the system again remains an impediment in the way of his trail. The extradition proceedings which are needed bringing him to justice have to be initiated by the Indian foreign office. The foreign office remains indifferent to the plight of the family. Jaleel Andrabi’s case is just an instance of thousands of similar cases waiting retribution. Victims and their dependents seldom get it. This is the form of the justice that Indian-hedl-Kashmir is avail within India. Administration of justice remains one of the basic purposes of the state. If a state fails to fulfil this purpose it loses moral right to question others and be a member of United Nations Human Rights Council. Members of Human Rights Council are required to set their own record right prior to scrutinizing performance of other nations in the domain of fulfilment of International obligations.
The author is a faculty member at Department of Law, University of Kashmir.
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