Perpetrators of extrajudicial killings in Kashmir continue to evade justice: Amnesty

London, February 26 : The global human rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI) has said that perpetrators of extra-judicial executions in Jammu and Kashmir continue to evade justice.
The Amnesty in its 2104-15 report on human rights situation in Kashmir highlighted a number of high-profile human right cases including 2010 fake Machil encounter, 2000 Pathribal fake encounter and many other cases to point out failure of authorities to take action against the culprits.  Dozens of innocent civilians were killed by Indian troops in these staged-managed encounters. 
The report titled “Amnesty International Report 2104-15 The State Of The World’s Human Rights” mentions in January last year, the Indian Army dismissed without trial the charges of murder and conspiracy against its personnel for killing five innocent civilians in the Pathribal fake encounter. In January 2014, Army closed the case citing “the evidence recorded couldn’t establish a prime-facie case against any of the accused”, but clearly established that “it was a joint operation by the Police and the Army, based on specific intelligence”. However, the Central Bureau of Investigation contradicted army and said the killed ones were civilians. It had charged five Army men, including four officers and a Junior Commissioned Officer with murder in 2006, seeking exemplary punishment for the culprits.
Following army’s decision to close the case, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had in February 2014 said Pathribal case needs revisiting. The AI report also talks about the killing of three civilians by Indian troops in Machil fake encounter. It reads last year Army court-martial convicted six of its men including two officers for killing three men in extra-judicial execution in Machil”. However, earlier this month the Northern Command of Army returned conviction file without its approval. The army investigation had established role of two officers and four troops of 4-Rajput in the killings.
The AI report also highlights the killing of a 14-year old student and 21 year old man of Nowgam by Army in Chattergam Budgam. The duo was killed by troops of Army’s 53 Rashtriya Rifles when the former were returning home in a car. “Perpetrators of past violations in Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland Manipur, Punjab and Assam continue to evade justice,” mentions, the AI report.
The AI has taken note of Indian government’s reluctance to revoke draconian law, Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Jammu and Kashmir. “Almost absolute impunity for violation by forces continue in J&K,” the report mentions, citing that the legislation (ASFSPA) providing immunity from prosecution were still in force in J&K despite ongoing protests.  The authorities continued to violate people’s rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Arbitrary arrests and detentions of protesters, journalists and human rights defenders persisted, it added.
Laws on criminal defamation and sedition which fell short of international standards were used to harass and persecute journalists, human rights defenders and others for peacefully exercising their right to free expression, the Amnesty said, saying that the government also used broad and imprecise laws to curb free expression on the Internet. The authorities also implemented and expanded large-scale surveillance of telephone and Internet communications, without disclosing details of these projects or safeguards to prevent their misuse.