Torture

The prohibition against torture is a foundation principle of international law. Torture, as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, is banned at all times, in all places, including in times of war. No national emergency, however dire, ever justifies its use. No one may ever be returned to a place where they would face torture.

An insurgency pitting separatist and Islamist militants against security services raged in Kashmir throughout the 1990s and into the early years of this decade. It claimed tens of thousands of lives, including large numbers of civilians who were targeted by both militants and security forces. For the 2010 turmoil there were 1,491 detainees who were captured by the Armed forces. In 852 cases who came forward to speak about the plight, the detainees reported ill-treatment. A total of 171 described being beaten and 681 said they had been subjected to one or more of six forms of torture.These included 498 on which electricity had been used, 381 who had been suspended from the ceiling, 294 who had muscles crushed in their legs by prison personnel sitting on a bar placed across their thighs, 181 whose legs had been stretched by being "split 180 degrees", 234 tortured with water and 302 "sexual" cases.
The torture was showcased in many forms and indiscriminately on men as well as women, one such incident is in April 2002, where authorities in Kashmir arrested three Indian paramilitary soldiers following the gang rape of 17-year-old girl. In July 2011, there were anti-India protests in Srinagar against the alleged rape of a 25-year-old village woman in the village of Manzgam. However, no details were revealed as to whether the rapes were by security forces, militants or part of crime. On February 23, 1991, Indian army searched and interrogated people at the Kunan Poshpora village at 11:00 PM, soldiers of the Rajputana Rifles cordoned off the village. Males were interrogated overnight. The soldiers are accused to have gang-raped a large number of village women that night. Victims of this incident range in age from 13 to 80. The valley faces torture and other cruel inhuman treatments since the insurgency began in 1990’s, with the violent uprising and have elicited terrorism. Methods of torture are used as a tool of counter-insurgency by Indian security forces. The strong response from India violates the human rights and international humanitarian laws. The law enforcement agencies, army, and para-military forces have engaged in reprisal attacks against civilians resulting in indiscriminate firing, search operations, gang-rapes and burning of houses in the valley. After 1990, the situation in the Kashmir valley deteriorated and Kashmir was declared a disturbed area and laws like Disturbed Area Act (DAA) 1990, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1990 and Public Safety Act (PSA) 1978 were imposed.

There are around 471 torture centers still existent in Kashmir, 1 out 5 Kashmiris has been a victim of torture and there is a torture center at every 5 kilometers stretch. The levels of torture at these camps range from moderate to the seventh degree, and around four lakh people had been exposed to all these kinds of torture, almost 90% of the people who are arrested are subjected torture. The methods of torture include, Head Dipping in the Water, Inserting Chili Powder in private parts, Rolling on the Front Side of the Legs, Electric Shocks, Cutting Body Parts or Mutilating, Keeping Detainees Naked during Torture, Sexual Torture, Stretching of Arms and Legs, Inserting Iron Rods, Hanging Upside Down, Forced to Drink Excessive Water, and Humiliation, and all of these methods have been experimented on Kashmiri people.

Many infamous torture chambers are, Hari Niwas, constructed as a palace for Maharaja Hari Singh but remained useless after the partition of India, it served as a torture camp which killed thousands of Kashmiri youths. Papa-II, the most dreaded and dangerous torture chamber ever created in Kashmir, used by the Border Security Force it became a graveyard for thousands of Kashmiri. Once a person was inside Papa-II, chances of that person getting out immediately got down to zero. Cargowas a huge building spacing the infamous Special Operations Group of the State Police in 1994 and was treacherous place of torture and barbarism which has buried in itself many dreams and futures of youths and their parents, even today there is a very slim chance of journalists and other investigating parties to get inside Cargo. In 2010 five young boys were sodomized by the police there. Kawoosa House, it was a center for anti-insurgency activities in Srinagar. It had high windows with sand bags stacked up, these windows would harbor cries of young men who would usually be residents of nearby areas, they would cry out their names and addresses in hopes of someone out there listening and reporting their plight to their parents. Red 16, the name of this torture chamber has different backgrounds, one being on the basis of the color of the house being red other being because of the blood spilt there and another being that it was House No. 16 in its locality. It served has a torture camp for Kashmir’s first armed group under Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed’s rule, these were the ones who would send posters of India’s map showing Jammu & Kashmir as a separate entity. Badami Bagh Cantonment is Indian Army’s largest base in Jammu & Kashmir, countless Kashmiris have been subjected to torture and agony here and later treated at the army cantonment hospital just to be tortured and agonized again and again, the hospital served as a cover up for hundreds of cases of severe torture held at the camp. Shariefabad Camp, another name for trauma, fear, agony and death. The people who have survived the horrors of the camp recall the barbarian methods used on them, one such method was burning people alive in iron tanks.

Many more such torture chambers were Papa-I (CRPF), Old Airport (BSF), Gogoland (CRPF), Joint Interrogation Center (BSF and CRPF), Bagi Ali Mardan (BSF), Lal Bazaar Police Station (BSF), Hotel Mamta (BSF), and Shiraz Cinema (BSF).

Torture is also used to punish detainees who are believed to support or sympathize with the militants and to create a climate of political repression. The practice of torture is facilitated by the fact that detainees are generally held in detention centres, controlled by the various security forces, without access to the courts, relatives or medical care. Violations of human rights and humanitarian law by the regular security forces i.e the army, the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have continued. These violations include the deliberate killing of detainees in the custody of the security forces and reprisal killings of civilians. Human rights groups and press accounts have registered reports of such killings every month, but there is no sign that security personnel have been prosecuted in a single case of summary execution. In the few high-profile cases in which courts-martial have taken place, soldiers have been prosecuted for abuses, such as the excessive use of force, which fall short of murder. The Indian authorities have done little to curb human rights violations by their army and security forces. In the rare cases in which investigations of abuses have taken place, the most severe punishments have generally been limited to dismissals or suspensions from duty. Security officers have also offered bribes and have threatened individuals and families in an attempt to prevent them from pressing charges. The Indian government's failure to account for these abuses and take rigorous action against those members of its forces responsible for murder, rape and torture amounts to a policy of condoning human rights violations.