SRINAGAR, Nov 2: Eight-five Indian soldiers have been found guilty of human rights violations in occupied Kashmir in the 18 years since a full-blown campaign against New Delhi’s rule erupted there in 1989, the army said on Friday.

“To date as many as 85 officers and soldiers have received punishment, including dismissal from service and imprisonment after charges (of human rights violations) were established against them,” said

Lt-Gen A.S. Sikhon, the army chief of the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.

Indian security forces --- estimated to number half a million in Kashmir --- are often accused of excesses while fighting Muslim militants.

Indian officials say all accusations are investigated and the guilty punished. However, the punishment is rarely made public and soldiers are often tried by the army itself.

The unrest in the scenic Himalayan region has left more than 42,000 people dead by official count. Human rights groups put the toll at 60,000 dead and another 10,000 missing.

Mr Sikhon said Indian army was committed to uphold human rights.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reasons and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood,” he said in a statement.

Police last week reported a major fall in Kashmir violence which analysts attributed to an ongoing peace process between nuclear armed rivals India and Pakistan.—AFP

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