IPTK/APDP Identifies Alleged Perpetrators Of Rights Abuses

Invokes Int’l Criminal Law To Prosecute 500 Army, PMF, Police Officials

SRINAGAR (ONS) – The International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice (IPTK) and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) here Thursday released its report on the alleged perpetrators, first of its kind, identifying 500 of their personnel in 214 cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir over the past 22 years (1990-2011).   

Prepared in two years, the 450-page report titled “Alleged Perpetrators- Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir,” was released by noted human rights activists, Gautam Naulakha, Parvez Imroz, Kartik Murukutla and Khuram Parvez. They said the report had been sent to prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and chief minister, Omar Abdullah, so that the perpetrators could be punished but expressed no hope adding “the Indian system of delivering justice will not pave any way to bring perpetrators to justice.”

The report claims to have used information gleaned mostly from official documents and witness testimonies and portrayed the state of impunity prevalent in the state and seeks a process of accountability for institutional criminality established under international criminal law. The state documents it relies upon include records of police, judicial and quasi-judicial and government agencies obtained by using the Right to Information Act.

In the 214 cases the two organizations have examined, the report claimed, a list of 500 individual perpetrators, had emerged. They include 235 army personnel, 123 paramilitary personnel, 111 Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel and 31 government-backed militants / associates. Among them are two Major Generals, three Brigadiers, nine Colonels, three Lieutenant Colonels, 78 Majors and 25 Captains of the Indian Army.  This list includes 37 senior officials of federal paramilitary forces, a recently-retired director-general of police and a serving inspector-general.  

“The official designations of the alleged perpetrators and the geographical spread of the crimes committed against the people of Jammu and Kashmir indicate a decisive will of the Indian state, carried out by its functionaries as part of a policy,” it alleged, listing the rights abuses, including killings, massacres, arson, torture, rapes and custodial disappearances.

The report referred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court [ICC], to assert that the focus of international law had gradually shifted from general responsibility for crimes (like that of the state)  to individual perpetrators.

The report contains details of the places, dates, times of incidents along with their present status. The activists mentioned several specific incidents, including the one in which an Army Major, two senior police officials and four other personnel had brutally murdered 19 persons, including eight children, of three families in 1998.

It said the cases presented in the report alleged there was a policy not to investigate or prosecute the armed forces for human rights abuses. “There is an occasional willingness to order compensatory relief, but not to bring the perpetrators to justice. On the contrary, alleged perpetrators of crimes are awarded, rewarded and promoted,” it said.

Despite occasional “strong orders” being passed by judiciary, the report referred to cases where, it alleged, the High Court had “effectively condoned” continuation of violations. “The general experience in Jammu and Kashmir has been that judicial and quasi-judicial authorities such as the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) have allowed themselves to be conscious of the power and will of the executive, thereby rendering themselves subservient to the state,” it said, adding the impunity fostered thus had been compounded by the existence of draconian laws like Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1990.

“Based on the information before it, IPTK/APDP cannot conclusively pronounce on the guilt of any of the alleged perpetrators, but it is clear that enough evidence exists to warrant further investigations and prosecutions. However, in the absence of any institutional or political will to take the evidence to its natural conclusion- a trail where the crime and guilt of perpetrator can be proven beyond reasonable doubt- the Indian State – stands indicted,” they said. .

“Our search for truth and justice has taken a step forward with this report,” noted human rights activist, Gautam Navlakha, told the press conference. “At a time when India is bidding for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, it is imperative to bring this report on international arena,” he said.

“With this report, one can point out that seeking justice under Indian justice system is not possible because crimes committed in J&K are beyond the realm of Indian justice system. Therefore, it is essential to seek justice from international justice system,”

Asked about the expected results of making the report public, Navlakha said, “It is to make the people aware and to bring the authorities to shame as we believe that victims are to gain from that climate.” (With inputs from KNS / KMN)

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