By Annisa Essack
Two local NGOs have issued a 550-page report on human torture in Kashmir. Nilz Melzer, United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, said that the allegations that the NGOs are making are very serious and might be very grave violations of human rights.
Melzer added that despite making several requests to the Indian government for a visit, “He hasn’t received any response so far.”
In a recent interview, Melzer was asked if the Indian state can be held accountable under the UN convention against torture, he responded that while no state can be forced to ratify a treaty, however abolition of torture is not dependent on ratification of any treaty but rather is a fundamental customary human right.
Three UN Rapporteurs, in March 2019, sent a submission to India to take action against human rights violations but the Indian government rejected it, stating that “it will no longer engage with them regarding this issue.”
The UN submission on Jammu and Kashmir coincided with the release of an extensive 560-page report on Monday, prepared by the Jammu and Kashmir Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and the J&K Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). The report, entitled ‘Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in J&K’, documented 432 cases of human rights violations and brutality by security forces of which only 27 had been investigated by the State Human Rights Commission.
The report claimed that nearly “70% of torture victims in Jammu and Kashmir were civilians and 11% died during or as a result of torture”. The cases included incidents of electrocution, ‘water-boarding’ and sexual torture, which the government has repeatedly denied.
Meanwhile, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) today expressed hope that India and Pakistan will resume dialogue to address the issues, “particularly the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.”
Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaymeen, General Secretary of the OIC, also said that the bloc was following with deep concern the “bloody events against the security of the people of the Jammu and Kashmir.”
The OIC, he said, will continue to work towards a peaceful solution to the Kashmir conflict.
India has maintained OIC has no ‘locus standi’ on Jammu and Kashmir being “country’s internal matters.”