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Human Rights Politics

Indian-Held Kashmir: People Share Horrific Accounts Of Torture, Coercion

Noted Indian journalist Rana Ayyub, describing the scenes in Indian-held Kashmir as the worst she has seen so far, on Friday said that even 12-year-old children are being detained and tortured.

In a series of tweets, she said, “The anger and hatred I have seen for the Indian media in Kashmir, is something I have never witnessed before.”

Rana said that she had just returned from the Indian-held Kashmir where women were being threatened with rape. “This is the NORMAL you talk about,” she remarked, as she noted that the young boys were given electric shock and their families didn’t know about their whereabouts.

Rana shared this shocking information, as the BBC in its latest report quoted several villagers who said they were beaten with sticks and cables, and given electric shocks.

“Residents in several villages showed me injuries,” said the BBC reporter, Sameer Hashmi. However, the Indian army, as usual, described the “allegations” as “baseless and unsubstantiated”.

The BBC visited at least half a dozen villages in the southern districts which have emerged as a hub of anti-India militancy in the past few years. “I heard similar accounts from several people in all these villages of night raids, beatings and torture,” the report read.

According to the BBC, doctors and health officials are unwilling to speak to journalists about any patients regardless of ailments, but the villagers showed the injuries.

In one village, residents said that the army went from house to house just hours after the revocation of Article 370.

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Two brothers, who refused to reveal their identities for the fear of reprisal, said they were woken up and taken to an outside area where nearly a dozen other men from the village had been gathered.

“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.”

Another villager, a young man, said the security forces kept asking him to “name the stone-throwers” – referring to the mostly young men and teenage boys who have in the past decade become the face of civilian protests in Kashmir Valley.

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].”

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“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.

In one village, a youngster said the army threatened to frame him if he didn’t become an informant against militants. When he refused, 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.”

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

In another village, a young man, whose brother had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen two years ago, said he was recently questioned at an army camp, where he was tortured and left with a leg fracture.

“They tied my hands and legs and hung me upside down. They beat me very badly for more than two hours,” he said.

But the Indian army, in a statement to the BBC, said they were “a professional organisation that understands and respects human rights” and that all allegations “are investigated expeditiously”.

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