Indian Soldiers Use Kashmiris As Shields In IOK Raids: Reuters
Indian soldiers used at least four Kashmiri civilians during the 18-hour-long ‘operation’ in Pinglan village. This included sending the civilians first into buildings where the local fighters were supposedly residing.
Hundreds of Indian soldiers descended on the picturesque village of Pinglan on February 17 and conducted a raid that lasted 18 hours. Reuters representatives spend 2-days in the village and interviewed 60 eyewitnesses who said that locals were used as human shields by the Indian forces.
Human rights lawyer said that such tactics that are meant to deter fighters from firing at the soldiers are ‘highly questionable’ and might fall in the category of war crimes under international law. However, such gruesome practices would not be illegal under Indian laws.
“The Indian army has never used civilians as human shields,” Indian military spokesperson Lt Col Mohit Vaishnava denied the allegations and claimed that locals were sometimes used to ‘mediate’ between soldiers and fighters.
A suicide attack on Indian troops, which had left over 40 of them dead in February, sparked a huge crackdown in the disputed region as Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave troops a “free hand” to respond.
Since then, hundreds of Kashmiris have been arrested, and tens of fighters and civilians have been martyred in what Indian forces call ‘encounters’.
The raid in Pinglan was conducted three days after the Pulwama attack. The four people used as human shields were all consistent in their testimonies. They told Reuters that they had indeed been used as shields and not merely as ‘mediators’.