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Report on "torture" in Kashmir jails: 44% detainees stripped naked, 29% electrocuted

Counterview Desk
A recent report titled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir”, published by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), has claimed to build “on the body of human rights documentation on torture” in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) through an examination of 432 case studies. It seeks to focus on "the trends and patterns, targets, perpetrators, contexts and impact of torture" in the state.
The report states that while India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) since 1997, it has not ratified the treaty till date. The failure to ratify the UNCAT treaty has happened even though during all the three Universal Periodic Reviews conducted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 2008, 2012 and 2017, it was recommended that India ratify the Convention.
The report relies “broadly” on the definition of torture as laid out in the UNCAT, which states that the term “means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession…”
Relying on a fieldwork based case study method where the research mostly hinged on snowball sampling, the 432 cases that form its basis were conducted for over 10 years, starting from 2007, with APDP and JKCCS volunteers and researchers visiting survivors and their families in their home, conducting structured and unstructured interviews.

Excerpts:

Most of the people were subjected to more than one form of torture, carried out in tandem. Physical beating, beating on the sole of the foot, stripping naked and suspension from the ceiling are four widely and most commonly used procedures of torture carried out by state forces in Kashmir after an arrest.
Apart from verbal abuse which starts from the time and place of arrest and seems to never end, the various forms of torture that are used in Kashmir, are stripping the detainees naked or down to bare minimum, followed by beatings with wooden sticks, iron rods or leather belts.
Three hundred and twenty five of the 432 torture victims in their testimonies said that they were beaten. The instruments used were bamboo or wooden sticks, iron rods and leather belts. Beatings were common and would continue for days together. Ninety three people said that they were dragged, slapped on their faces, kicked, punched or glass bottles were broken on their heads.
Three people had been pushed against a hard background, like a wall or piles of rocks. Two people had been pushed: one was pushed to make him fall down and strike his head on the concrete floor and another was pushed down a hill. People have been held in stress positions during detentions for days together.
A hundred and twenty one victims said that they were hanged from the ceiling upside down. This method would be called as “Aeroplane” where in a big wooden plank would be suspended from the ceiling and the person under torture would be suspended from it with his hands and feet tied. 105 people said that their hands and feet were kept tied for many days at a stretch and some of them were also held down to the ground for hours together by many men.
Fifty six of the 432 people said that their legs were stretched 180 degrees. Seventy victims had been burned using different techniques. Most of these victims were burnt using live cigarette butts, the scars of which they still carry. Acid was used on two people. Hot handcuffs, melted candle wax, being forced to sit on a burning stove, were the other methods used to burn victims.
A victim (Case 147) from Anantnag said that when he was arrested by Ikhwan, he was stripped naked and petrol was poured on his body including on his face. Then he was set on fire, leaving his body badly burnt and his face completely disfigured. Bashir Ahmad (Case 90), who was arrested by Army in March 2001, said that boiling water was poured on his naked back, which was already wounded due to the torture he had been subjected to earlier.
A staggering 231 of 432 victims said that they were electrocuted during detention. 127 out of them had been electrocuted in their genitals. During cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) in the 1990s, the armed forces used to carry a portable battery along with them and it was used to electrocute people who were tortured during these operations.
Twenty four people out of 432 had been subjected to waterboarding. Jan Mohammad Parray (Case 207) from Doda said that water was poured on his face, which went in through his nostrils. Mohammad Altaf Sheikh (Case 247) from Srinagar said that during torture, his face was covered with a cloth and a bucketful of water was poured over it. Mohammad Ramzan Shoosha (Case 276) from Sopore said that his mouth was gagged with a cloth and a bucketful of water was poured on his face.
One hundred and one victims said that their head was dunked in water repeatedly. Often times this water would be filthy or mixed with chili powder. They would swallow some of the water through their nasal cavity and mouth. Abdul Rashid Dar (Case 44) from Pulwama said that he was arrested by BSF in 1992 and taken to a nearby river in Nilora. Here, they took his shirt off and put his head into the water; and kept repeating the process for the next two hours.
One hundred and sixty nine of 432 victims had been given the roller treatment. During this treatment, the victims were restrained to the ground. A heavy wooden log or an iron rod was rolled over their legs. It was pressed down by the weight of the torturers who would sit on the opposite sides of the rod. This treatment caused serious breakdown of the muscle tissues leading to cell necrosis. It also caused fractures.
Thirty seven victims said that they were trampled over on their chest and abdomen. This was usually done after the victims were forced to over drink water, sometimes mixed with chili powder. This would result in them vomiting out water along with blood causing chronic health issues to many. 12 out of 432 victims had been subjected to slits and cuts on their bodies with sharp objects. 

Some people received small incisions throughout their body. Ghulam Rasool Lone (Case 166) from Baramulla was arrested by BSF. During his detention, one of the interrogators slit Ghulam’s throat with a knife, and then stabbed him in the back once he fell down. In that state, they threw Ghulam on the pavement in front of his shop in the market.
Abdul Rashid Parray (Case 49) was arrested by 9 Gorkha Rifles in 1993. When he was arrested, he received bullet injuries in his throat, right arm and right hand fingers. In this injured state, the army took him to a nearby orchard and tortured him. They tied his arms and legs, and cut off his two injured fingers with a razor. During this, Rasheed fell unconscious. 35 victims had their flesh cut (13), skinned (1), nails plucked out (9) and beard (hair) shaved, plucked out or burnt (13).
Sometimes more than one such technique was used on the same person. Abdul Hameed Ahanger (Case 16) from Baramulla was arrested by BSF in 1991. During detention after electrocution and burning his body with cigarette butts, the flesh from his thighs and his nails was plucked out with pliers.
Fifteen out of the 432 victims had chilli, salt or petrol rubbed on their wounds, eyes or genitals. Mushtaq Ahmad Wani (Case 319) from Sopore was tortured by the Army in Watergam Camp Baramulla. After subjecting him to different torture techniques due to which his body was covered in wounds, his wounds were rubbed with salt and chilli powder. Manzoor Ahmad Natnoo (Case 220) from Doda was arrested by 8 Rashtriya Rifles in 1994. He was stripped naked, beaten with iron rods after which the army personnel pissed on his head and body.
Forty eight victims were blindfolded at the time of detention or were kept blindfolded for a long period during detention. Seventeen victims said that they were kept in dark, underground and/or poorly ventilated rooms for many days together. 

Javeed Ahmad Lone (Case 205) from Baramulla was detained first in Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) Baramulla and later shifted to Badami Bagh Cantonment Srinagar. In JIC he was kept, along with ten other detainees, in a 10x15 feet room where all the windows were covered with thick cloth. The room was completely dark. They would be taken out of the room twice a day only to be tortured in a separate room. In Badami Bagh Cantonment, he was kept in an underground, poorly ventilated room with thirty other detainees. All of them were kept naked and blindfolded. They were taken out of the room once each day for torture.
Three victims were made to stare at a high voltage lamp while in detention. Ghulam Hassan Sheikh (Case 141) from Baramulla, who was detained in G-Branch Baramulla, was forced to stare at a high voltage lamp for about an hour. He was unable to see anything for a long time after that. Eleven victims were made to face harsh weather conditions like snow or scorching sun.
Nazir Ahmad Zarger (Case 338) from Anantnag was arrested in January/February 1993 by Rashtriya Rifles during a cordon operation. He was taken to the Khanabal Camp. He was kept in the grounds of the camp in the snow, along with 11 other boys who had been picked up on the same day. They were stripped right there and beaten; and kept on the ground for several hours.
Abdul Aziz Sheikh (Case 11) from Poonch was summoned to 27 Rashtriya Rifles military camp in Potha, Poonch by an officer named Purshotam on January 6, 1997. There he was beaten and his nails plucked out. Then he was kept in a water tank in the open on a freezing winter night; the next morning Aziz was dead.
While in detention 29 victims were forced to starve for days together. Even when the food was given, it was adulterated or scarce. Jana Begum (Case 197) from Kupwara was tortured continuously for 3 days by J&K police. Her hands and feet were tied, head was dunked in water mixed with chili powder and she was electrocuted. All this while, she was not given any food to eat. 
Mohammad Ismail Sheikh (Case 267) from Handwara was arrested and tortured multiple times since 2001 by Indian Armed forces. Once in May 2008, Ismail was arrested from the mosque by the 30 Rashtriya Rifles, along with two other people named Manzoor Ahmad Khan and Abdul Quyoom Dar. They were taken to Langate, Handwara Camp for four days. During that time, he was kept out in the harsh sunlight on a tin sheet for four straight days without food or water. The other two men were also badly tortured.
Ten victims said that they were threatened during detention that they will be killed, raped or their family members will be harmed. A victim (Case 173) from Doda was tortured on May 16, 2000 by troops of 10 Rashtriya Rifles. She was beaten and stripped naked. She was taken to the camp along with her family where they were detained for two nights.
During detention, she was threatened with gang rape and being paraded naked in their village. Mohammad Shafi Pandith (Case 286) from Srinagar was arrested for the second time in 1995 by 144 Battalion BSF. The forces personnel would aim their guns at him and threaten to kill him, if he did not give them the information they were seeking.
Many detainees were put under behavioural coercion where they were forced into activities that were against their religious beliefs, like rubbing piglets on their bodies or forcing them to consume alcohol. Fifteen people had different animals which included piglets, rats, dogs and snakes rubbed on their bodies. In some cases, rats were put inside victims’ trousers after putting sugary water on their legs.
Thirty three victims said that they were forced to eat or drink filthy and harmful substances like human excreta, chili powder, dirt, gravel, chili powder mixed water, petrol, urine and dirty water. 21 victims were sleep deprived for many days at a stretch.
Fayaz Ahmad Tantray (Case 117) from Pattan was arrested and tortured multiple times. Once in 2003, he was detained and kept in water tank about 50 meters deep. A bright light was kept on, pointing towards his face. He was kept in that place for seven days during which he was not allowed to sleep as the bright light was continuously on.
Eleven victims had been kept in solitary confinements for prolonged periods of time during their detention. The cells they were kept in are usually very small and even stretching legs is difficult. They also lack basic facilities like toilets.
Hilal Ahmad Akhoon (Case 184) was arrested in November 1996 by the Army and detained at their Langate camp, Handwara. During detention, he was kept alone inside a small cell for 29 consecutive days. He was taken out after every two or three days only to be tortured in another room. His cell had no ventilation and in the absence of any toilet facilities, he had to urinate and defecate inside his cell, which became filled with stench. The food that he received was also thrown on this floor.
A startling 252 out of 432 torture victims were subjected to repetitive torture, which works out to more than 55 per cent of the victims. Eighty four of the 252 victims were arrested multiple times and tortured each time, while 168 of these victims were tortured multiple times over many days during a single detention. Among these 252 victims of repeated torture, 104 were civilians, which included 11 political activists and 2 human rights activists.
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Click HERE for full report

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