Kashmir Legislators Must Not Ignore Human Rights

September 27, 2011

Click image to enlarge. Copyright: Malik Sajad, used by permission

Yesterday, Amnesty International wrote an open letter to all members of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) State Assembly calling on them to take action to protect human rights and to investigate past human rights violations.

Among the actions we are calling for legislators to accomplish in this session:

  1. An investigation into unmarked graves: Thousands of bodies have been found dumped in mass graves in various parts of Kashmir. The State Human Rights Commission’s 11-member police investigation team found that there is “every probability” that at least 2,100 of the graves “contain the dead bodies of [persons subject to] enforced disappearances.”
  2. Repeal of the Public Safety Act: We issued a well-received report documenting the “lawless law” that keeps people in a Kafkaesque state of justice where individuals are not charged with a crime but are held in indefinite detention because they supposedly run afoul of the police.
  3. Amendment of the Juvenile Justice Act: Despite its violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the J&K government continues to hold teenagers under the age of 18 in indefinite detentions.
  4. Repeal of the Disturbed Area Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act: These laws are applied indiscriminately in the Kashmir Valley and creates a climate of impunity that is not only a grave violation of human rights but is also just not a great way to build support for India.

As the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir continues to deteriorate, it is crucial that assembly members step up to protect human rights, prevent future violations and to investigate past violations.

The full text of the open letter of legislators is available in pdf.

For more about human rights in Kashmir, follow me on twitter,  @acharya_dude