Kashmiri men tell BBC about torture, beatings

August 31, 2019

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SRINAGAR: Kashmiri women carry stones and pieces of wood during clashes with Indian soldiers in the Anchar area here on Friday.—AFP
SRINAGAR: Kashmiri women carry stones and pieces of wood during clashes with Indian soldiers in the Anchar area here on Friday.—AFP

KARACHI: A number of men living in occupied Kashmir have told the BBC of incidents in which Indian troops beat them up severely and tortured them.

The men who made the allegations belonged to south Kashmir and the beatings took place on Aug 6, hours after India unilaterally revoked the special status granted to the disputed Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Kashmiri men said they were beaten with sticks and cables and given electric shocks by Indian troops.

The investigative report written by Sameer Hashmi said that residents in several villages showed him their injuries. “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,” he wrote.

Doctors and health officials were unwilling to speak to journalists about any patients regardless of ailments, he said. The Kashmiri men spoke to him on condition of anonymity because of obvious reasons.

According to residents in one village, army men went from house to house just hours after the Indian government’s announcement that it had revoked the autonomy enjoyed by the disputed region.

Indian forces apparently wanted to stop villagers from mounting protests

Two brothers alleged that they were woken up and taken to an area where nearly a dozen other men from the village had been assembled.

“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... When we fainted they gave us electric shocks to bring us round. When they hit us with sticks and we screamed, they sealed our mouths with mud.”

“I told them, ‘don’t beat us, just shoot us’. I was asking God to take me, because the torture was unbearable,” he added.

The report quoted a man as saying the security men kept on 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,” he said, adding that the soldiers told him to warn everyone in his village to stay away from protests.

The men BBC spoke to believed that the security forces wanted to intimidate the villagers so that they would be too scared to mount protests.

A man in his early 20s said the army threatened to frame him if he didn’t become an informant against Kashmiri fighters. When he refused, he was beaten so badly that he cannot lie on his back.

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 to 16 soldiers”.

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

Meanwhile, in a statement to BBC, the Indian army said it had “not manhandled any civilians as alleged”. The allegations were unfounded and baseless, it added.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2019