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Behind the Kashmir Conflict - Militant Abuses in the Valley (Human Rights Watch Report, July 1999)
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH Behind the Kashmir Conflict: Abuses by Indian Security Forces and Militant Groups Continue
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Militant Abuses in the Valley

Throughout the conflict, militant organizations in Kashmir have committed grave abuses. The most serious of these have been the murders of hundreds of civilians, both Muslim and Hindu, who have been targeted because of their suspected support for the Indian government, or because they otherwise opposed the policies or practices of one or another of the militant groups. Many of the attacks were also clearly intended to drive Hindu Kashmiris out of the state. Beginning in 1988, Hindus were made the targets of threats and acts of violence by militant organizations, and this wave of killing and harassment motivated many to leave the valley.92 There are no accurate statistics on the numbers of these killings and other abuses, but anecdotal evidence from Kashmir indicates that they number in the thousands. As of June 1999, thousands of Hindus who fled Kashmir remained in camps in Jammu and Delhi where they have faced serious hardship in finding employment and educational opportunities.93

Militants have also abducted and threatened civilians for the purposes of extortion. Members of some of the groups have committed rape, have threatened and attacked journalists, and have kidnapped tourists and others as political hostages. Although political leaders aligned with militant groups have acknowledged that the abuses take place, they have done little, if anything, to curb the abuses.

The militants procure most of their weapons from Pakistan. Although many long-time observers of the region believe that Pakistan has directly provided weapons to militants in Kashmir,94there are many complexities about the arms supply relationship. Most of these weapons have come from the arms bazaar in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (nwfp)-a vast black market for weapons-and members of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (isi), operating either on their own or with the tacit or explicit complicity of the central Pakistani government. The ISI has also operated training camps for Kashmiri militants, some of which have been situated in Afghanistan.95

Attacks on civilians have continued. The following examples are illustrative; there have been many more such killings than we describe below. In one of the worst incidents of this kind, on January 26, 1998, militants massacred twenty-three Hindu villagers, including a number of women and children, in the village of Wandhama, seventeenmiles north of Srinagar. The village is within the home district of the state chief minister, Farooq Abdullah, and the killings occurred on the Indian national holiday of Republic Day. The militants also set fire to a Hindu temple and a house.96 On March 21, 1997, seven Hindus were killed in the village of Sangrampora in Badgam district.97 On August 2, 1998, militants shot dead thirty-four Hindu laborers in a village in the state of Himachal Pradesh near the border with Jammu and Kashmir.98


92 The government role in encouraging the exodus, particularly the part played by former Governor Jagmohan, is a matter of considerable controversy in Kashmir and among the Hindu refugees in Jammu and New Delhi. Some reports suggest that while many Hindus left the valley out of fear of militant violence, some may have been encouraged to leave by authorities who hoped to undermine support for the militant movement. 93 Interview with Badri Nath Pandita, an activist, and Shibanjee Santosh of the Democratic Front of Kashmiri Migrants, in Jammu, October 22, 1998. 94 See, for example, John Ward Anderson and Molly Moore, "After Cold War, U.S.-Pakistani Ties are Turning Sour; U.S. Threatens Sanctions, Alleging Support for Terrorism," The Washington Post, April 21, 1993. This report noted that the U.S. State Department was considering formally naming Pakistan as a supporter of terrorism because of official assistance to Sikh and Kashmiri militants, and indicated that the cia "long has had solid information that Pakistan has trained, funded and supplied such rebels." 95 For more details, see Human Rights Watch, "Arms and Abuses in Indian Punjab and Kashmir," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol. 6, no. 10, September 1994. 96 BBC World Service, Villagers Massacred in Kashmir," January 26, 1998; http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia. 97 Harinder Baweja, "A Body Blow to Harmony," India Today (Delhi) , April 15, 1997. 98 BBC World Service, "Gunmen kill 34 in north India," August 4, 1998; http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia.

 

 

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India: Arms and Abuses in Indian Punjab and Kashmir

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