Human rights watchdog rakes up AFSPA issue

Jammu, Jan 24: A global human rights watch group has given teeth to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s now almost forgotten call – for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some parts of the state.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in its latest report: ‘India has yet to repeal laws or change policies that allowed de jure and de facto impunity for human rights violations, and has failed to prosecute even known perpetrators of serious abuses.’

‘The World Report 2012: India’, however, did not substantiate this observation with any instances of alleged human rights abuse.

‘The Indian defense establishment resisted attempts to repeal or revise the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a law that provides soldiers in ‘disturbed’ areas widespread police powers,’ said the report which was released Monday.

It has specifically written about Jammu and Kashmir and the alleged disappearances which had caught the attention of human rights groups and media in autumn last year.

‘A police investigation in 2011 by the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) found 2,730 bodies dumped into unmarked graves at 38 sites in north Kashmir. At least 574 were identified as the bodies of local Kashmiris,’ it said.

It added that the state government promised a probe but the army and paramilitary forces

have resisted fair investigations and prosecutions, claiming immunity under AFSPA.

The Human Rights Watch had in the past come down heavily on terrorists and security forces for perpetuating a cycle of violence in Kashmir.

The watchdog says custodial killings, police abuses including torture, and failure to implement policies to protect vulnerable communities marred India’s record in 2011.

IANS