Stories of torture following annexation by India emerge from occupied Kashmir

Updated August 30, 2019

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A Kashmiri woman on Friday asks for permission to cross the road from an Indian paramilitary soldier at a temporary check point during a restrictions in Srinagar. — AP
A Kashmiri woman on Friday asks for permission to cross the road from an Indian paramilitary soldier at a temporary check point during a restrictions in Srinagar. — AP

People in occupied Kashmir have accused Indian security forces of carrying out beatings and torture in the wake of the government's decision to strip the region of its autonomy, BBC News reported on Thursday.

The BBC heard from several villagers who said they were beaten with sticks and cables, and given electric shocks.

The author of the article, journalist Sameer Hashmi, wrote that residents in several villages showed him injuries. The BBC, however, was not able to verify the allegations with officials.

"I visited at least half a dozen villages in the southern districts [...] I heard similar accounts from several people in all these villages of night raids, beatings and torture," wrote Hashmi.

"Doctors and health officials are unwilling to speak to journalists about any patients regardless of ailments, but the villagers showed me injuries alleged to have been inflicted by security forces."

According to residents in one village, the Indian army went from house to house just hours after the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced the controversial decision that upended a decades-old arrangement between Delhi and occupied Kashmir.

India's government, led by BJP, decided on August 5 to repeal of Article 370 of the Indian constitution and enforced a security lockdown and communications blackout. The clampdown is now on its 26th day.

'Beat every part of my body'

Two brothers alleged that they were woken up and taken to an outside area where nearly a dozen other men from the village had been gathered, said the article, adding that people were too afraid of reprisals to reveal their identities.

"They beat us up. We were asking them: 'What have we done? You can ask the villagers if we are lying, if we have done anything wrong?' But they didn't want to hear anything, they didn't say anything, they just kept beating us," one of them said.

"They beat every part of my body. They kicked us, beat us with sticks, gave us electric shocks, beat us with cables. They hit us on the back of the legs. When we fainted they gave us electric shocks to bring us back. When they hit us with sticks and we screamed, they sealed our mouth with mud.

"We told them we are innocent. We asked why they were doing this? But they did not listen to us. I told them don't beat us, just shoot us. I was asking God to take me, because the torture was unbearable."

People in occupied Kashmir have accused Indian security forces of carrying out beatings and torture. ─ Photo courtesy BBC
People in occupied Kashmir have accused Indian security forces of carrying out beatings and torture. ─ Photo courtesy BBC

The article cites a young man, who said the security forces kept asking him to "name the stone-throwers". He said he told the soldiers he didn't know any, so they ordered him to remove his glasses, clothes and shoes.

"Once I took off my clothes, they beat me mercilessly with rods and sticks, for almost two hours. Whenever I fell unconscious, they gave me shocks to revive [me].

"If they do it to me again, I am willing to do anything, I will pick up the gun. I can't bear this every day," he said, adding that the soldiers told him to warn everyone in his village that if anyone participated in any protests against the forces, they would face similar repercussions.

According to the journalist, the men he spoke to believe that the security forces did this to intimidate the villagers so that they would be too scared to protest.

'They beat us as if we are animals'

A man in his early 20s, while talking to BBC, said the army threatened to frame him if he didn't become an informant against Kashmiri fighter. When he refused, he alleged, he was beaten so badly that two weeks later he still cannot lie on his back.

"If this continues I'll have no choice but to leave my house. They beat us as if we are animals. They don't consider us human," he was quoted as saying.

Another man, who showed the journalist his injuries, said he was pushed to the ground and severely beaten with "cables, guns, sticks and probably iron rods by 15-16 soldiers".

"I was semi-conscious. They pulled my beard so hard that I felt like my teeth would fall out."

Indian army calls allegations 'baseless'

The Indian army, in a statement to the BBC, said it had "not manhandled any civilians as alleged".

"No specific allegations of this nature have been brought to our notice. These allegations are likely to have been motivated by inimical elements," army spokesperson Col Aman Anand was quoted as saying.

Measures had been taken to protect civilians but "there have been no injuries or casualties due to countermeasures undertaken by the army", he added.


This article has been curated from BBC News' report by Sameer Hashmi, which you can read here.