The admission made by an official human rights body of Indian-occupied Kashmir’s “government” in August last year about the existence of over two thousand unmarked graves has been featured in a U.S. report on human rights.
The report, titled “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012″ released by the US State Department, said it was the first time that a government entity — the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Council (JKSHRC) — confirmed that some of the bodies in graves were of civilians and not insurgents, but made no comments about the discovery of so many graves.
The State department report, which was released by Secretary of State John Kerry, noted the occupied Kashmir government’s claim that most of the unmarked graves were known to respective police stations and that the remaining graves were of unidentified militants killed in security force encounters.
“In a report submitted to the state government in July 2011, the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Council had documented 2,156 unmarked graves at 38 different sites at the heart of the 1990s insurgency and recommended an inquiry by an independent body,” the State Department said.
“In December the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir documented 2,943 bodies in graves in Kashmir, 87 percent of which were unmarked.” The US report said, “Separatist insurgents and terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeastern States, and the Naxalite belt committed numerous serious abuses, including killing armed forces personnel, police, government officials, and civilians. Insurgents were responsible for numerous cases of kidnapping, torture, rape, and extortion, and they used child soldiers. For the second consecutive year, Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast saw considerably less violence than in the past.
“The Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a Kashmir-based human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO), reported 148 deaths from violent incidents, among other human rights abuses, including the deaths of 35 civilians, 75 alleged militants, and 36 security forces personnel.”
The State Department report also said India’s civil society continues to express concern over the failure of the government of western state of Gujarat to protect people or arrest those responsible for communal violence in 2002.
It said human rights groups continue to allege that investigative bodies in their reports showed bias in favour of Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi. “Civil society activists continued to express concern about the Gujarat government’s failure to protect the population or arrest those responsible for communal violence in 2002 that resulted in the killing of more than 1,200 persons, the majority of whom were Muslim, although there was progress in several court cases,” said the State Department report. “Human rights groups continue to allege that investigative bodies showed bias in favour of Modi in their reports,” the report said.
The chapter on India in the report runs into 60 pages, according to which the most significant human rights problems in India in 2012 were police and security force abuses, including extra-judicial killings, torture, and rape; widespread corruption at all levels of government, leading to denial of justice; and separatist, insurgent, and societal violence.
“Other human rights problems included disappearances, poor prison conditions that were frequently life-threatening, arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detention. The judiciary was overburdened, and court backlogs led to lengthy delays or the denial of justice,” the report said. “Authorities continued to infringe on citizens’ privacy rights,” it said.
The State Department said, law enforcement and legal avenues for rape victims were inadequate, overtaxed, and unable to address the issue effectively. “Law enforcement officers sometimes worked to reconcile rape victims and their attackers, in some cases encouraging female rape victims to marry their attackers. Doctors sometimes further abused rape victims who had come to report the crimes by using the ‘two finger test’ to speculate on their sexual history,” it said, while referring to the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi.