India uses AFSPA to obscure civilian killings in Kashmir: US Report

The 67-page document, released on April 13, said: “There were few investigations and prosecutions of human rights violations arising from internal conflicts.”

Yasir Ashraf
Srinagar, Publish Date: Apr 15 2016 12:59AM | Updated Date: Feb 14 2017 4:09PM
India uses AFSPA to obscure civilian killings in Kashmir: US ReportFile Photo

Indian authorities use Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to avoid holding its security forces responsible for the deaths of civilians in Jammu and Kashmir, a report by the US State Department said.

The 67-page document, released on April 13, said: “There were few investigations and prosecutions of human rights violations arising from internal conflicts.”
 
Quoting NGOs, the US report said that “due to AFSPA immunity provisions, authorities did not hold the armed forces responsible for the deaths of civilians killed in Jammu and Kashmir in previous years.”
 
The report comes at a time when army and police killed three youth and an elderly woman in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
 
The report was released by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the headquarters of the State Department in Washington DC on April 13.
 
Elaborating about AFSPA, the report said that when the central government declares a state or union territory as a “disturbed area,” the law authorizes security forces to use deadly force to “maintain law and order” and arrest any person “against whom reasonable suspicion exists” without informing the detainee of the grounds for arrest.
 
The document said that Jammu and Kashmir Commission (State Human Rights Commission) does not have the authority to investigate human rights violations committed by members of paramilitary security forces.
 
It said that the NHRC has jurisdiction over all human rights violations, except in certain cases involving the army.
 
The Act, which provides special powers to Indian armed forces, was first invoked in Kashmir valley and parts of twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch on July 5, 1990 by declaring all these areas as “disturbed areas”.
 
The Jammu region was declared “disturbed area” in 2001 and the Act was promulgated to it too.
The controversial law remains bone of contention between New Delhi and Srinagar where the calls to repeal it has became louder in recent years.
 
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