Breaking News! Human Rights Violations Piss People Off

July 8, 2010

There has been a flare up in violence in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in the past few weeks, mainly due to the recent killing of a Kashmiri youth, Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat, in the state’s capital of Srinagar and an incident where the police opened fire on stone throwers in Anantnag, killing three.

The killing of Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat in Srinagar is the latest string of deaths attributed to Indian security forces.  The killings have triggered renewed fears that Kashmir will return to the dark days of an insurgency that killed thousands in the 1990s and early 2000s.  More immediately, the continued human rights violations have triggered large scale protests that has led to more deaths.

The J&K state government and lately the central government in Delhi have made all sorts of pathetic excuses as to why it might be that there have been protests going on in the weeks, blaming it on Lashkar-i-Toiba or some other terrorist group.  But, if you think about it, why wouldn’t people be upset and protest if there were alleged killings by security forces?  Why does have to be “instigated” by Lashkar-i-Toiba?

The Kashmiri government then issued a mostly ignored set of media restrictions aimed at controlling information.  Now, the Indian Army has stepped in following a curfew in the entire Kashmir Valley.  That seems to have stemmed the immediate violence, but seems troubling in the long term.

Instead of making excuses, the Kashmir state government and the Government of India must take immediate steps to arrest and prosecute those that are accused of perpetrating the violence against civilians.  Doing so will go some way to easing the tensions in the Kashmir Valley.  It’s not the only thing, but when security forces commit human rights violations, people get pissed off.