Human Rights Day is being observed today, marking the adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on 10 December 1948. Kashmir has been witness to unabated human rights violations in the last over 20 years. Kashmir’s tryst with armed conflict has been marked by extrajudicial and fake encounter killings, arbitrary detentions, torture, rape, arson, extortion, enforced disappearances and other abuses. The worst part is that the perpetrators of these crimes have gone unpunished. With no accountability, there has been no deterrent in place. As a result, there has only been an increase in human rights abuses.
Though international human rights bodies have been raising the issue regularly, they have not been able to check the violations. The State Human Rights Commission has stood as a helpless organization with its recommendations going unheeded. Infact in some cases, the trampling of human rights has been systematic, meant to crush the rebellion. In many cases inquiries were ordered, which only proved as valuable time buying tools in the hands of the authorities looking to save their skin. Mainstream media has also played a dubious role highlighting the abuses committed by militants while downplaying and more often ignoring all together the numerous violations at the hands of various security agencies. As a result, the Indian public has remained more or less ignorant about the actual situation in the state. The regimes in New Delhi have used this ignorance to their own good justifying their wrong decisions and getting away with their myopic policies regarding the state. Human rights violations are as much responsible for fuelling the armed conflict as the political factors.
The heavy presence of troops in Kashmir has been a major concern for local people and is often held responsible for the human rights violations in the valley. It is high time that New Delhi takes concrete steps to check the violations. The reduction of troops in the valley has met resistance from army. Reports about increase in infiltration attempts from across the border are often used as excuses to counter any such move. The political leadership should not be misled by such reports. Infiltration bids are not subject to presence of troopers in civilian areas. Instead it depends on the security arrangements on the borders and so it be. Unless concrete steps are taken on ground, human rights violations will go unabated.