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J&K NGOs: Of 271 killed in Jan-Jun 2019, 43 civilians, 120 militants, 108 armymen

Counterview Desk
A report, released just a month before the Government of India’s (GoI’s) unprecedented clampdown on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), revoking the state’s special status, suggests that in the first half of this year things were surely slipping out of Central hand, despite Government of India efforts to suppress in every possible way any form of dissent or protest.
Already a state governed directly from Delhi after the President’s rule was imposed on June 20, 2018, the report, a six monthly brief on the human rights situation in J&K – January to June 2019 – by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), says that during that period 271 killings took place in in “various incidents of violence”, of which only 43 civilians.
As for the rest, it said, 120 were militants and 108 Indian armed forces personnel.

Excerpts:

The first half of 2019 in J&K* witnessed continued and increased violence and heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following a militant attack on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in February 2019, which led to the killing of 48 Indian soldiers.
Following the militant attack on the CRPF convoy, Kashmiris living in various cities and towns of India became targets of hate crimes, forcing thousands of Kashmiri students to flee their colleges and universities in an atmosphere of fear and trepidation.
In April and May 2019, elections to the Indian Parliament were held in J&K prior to which 100 additional companies were deployed in Kashmir, effectively making J&K the only place in the world where increased military presence ensures the conduct of elections – which are largely boycotted by the civilian population.
The polling days witnessed complete shutdowns, violence and also killings. Ahead of the elections, mass arrests of political and religious leaders and banning of religious and political organizations was carried out in J&K. While Parliamentary elections were held under heavy military presence in J&K, the elections to the State Assembly Elections have been deferred.
Interestingly, Election of Commission of India’s decision to not announce Assembly Elections in Jammu and Kashmir was based on India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) assessment of not possessing ‘inadequate security personal’ for conducting elections.
Among the 43 civilians killed in the first half of 2019, 14 were killed by Indian armed forces and police, 12 were killed by unidentified gunmen, 8 civilians died after falling victim of cross LOC shelling in the border areas of J&K, 5 civilians were killed by suspected militants, 3 died due to explosion while the agency responsible for the killing of 2 civilians remains unknown – as both police and militants blamed each other for these two killings.
Among the 43 civilians killed, 9 were minors.
Among the 108 Indian armed forces and Jammu Kashmir police personnel killed in J&K, the highest (80) forces personnel were killed in counter-insurgency related incidents, including in a suicide militant attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14, 2019, which resulted in the killing of at least 48 CRPF personnel, while 8 Indian armed personnel were killed at the volatile Line of Control (LOC). \
Fifteen armed forces committed suicide, three CRPF troopers were killed in a fratricidal incident by a CRPF trooper in Udhampur district of Jammu and two Special Police Officers (SPO) of Jammu Kashmir Police were killed by suspected militants.

Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs)

The frequency of CASOs exponentially increased following the militant attack on a CRPF convoy in February 2019. In the first six months of 2019, at least 177 CASOs were conducted in J&K by Indian armed forces. The four south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian witnessed the majority of the CASOs. The 177 CASOs have resulted in the killing of at least 118 militants, four civilians and destruction of at least 20 civilian properties.
The use of administrative detention under the provisions of repressive Public Safety Act (PSA) continued unabated in the first half of 2019. The detention of civilians, political activists, Hurriyat and religious leaders under PSA witnessed an uptick in the first half of 2019. 
In addition to many Hurriyat and pro-Independence activists being detained and put under house arrest throughout these six months, mass arrests of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) activists took place after the two organizations were banned by the Government of India. 
Nearly 150 people, mainly from the Jamaat-eIslami Jammu and Kashmir, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, were detained during the intervening night of February 22 and 23. Between January and June, at least 25 people were booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), including but not limited to many of the prominent activists of JeI, as well as JKLF chief Yasin Malik.

‘Arbitrary’ detentions

Apart from the administrative detention carried out under Public Safety Act, the practice of illegal and arbitrary detention was also reported throughout the first half of 2019. Many youth were arrested in night raids, predominantly, in South Kashmir.
Following the Pulwama attack on February 14, in which 48 CRPF personnel died, as many as 35 persons, including two minors, were detained by government forces during raids in Tral, Awantipora, Pampore and Khrew. Three minors were also arrested. Notably, the 14-year-old son of a widow Mahmooda, whose house was razed to the ground in the Aripal encounter in Tral on 5 January, was detained by the police.
Another juvenile arrest was reported on January 10 in Awantipora where the police detained a minor who was taken to Kathua for questioning in connection with a militancy-related case. Media also reported that the person who was arrested and accused of lobbing a grenade at the Jammu bus stand on 7 March is a 15-year-old.
In the three month period of April to June 2019, as many as 90 youth were arrested in night raids throughout the Kashmir valley, a majority of them from South Kashmir. In the three days from 30 April 30 to May 2 only, as many as 84 youth were detained across Pulwama and Shopian districts.

Use of force against civilians

The use of pellet shotguns, first introduced in 2010, continued throughout the first six months of 2019. The excessive use of force by the Indian forces, especially the firing of pellets resulted in at least 3 deaths from the months of January to June. On April 11, a teenage boy, Owais Mir was killed by pellets after Indian forces fired pellets at protestors in Mandigam village of Langate where polling for the parliamentary elections had just ended.
On May 15 late evening, Arshad Ahmad Dar of Chenbal who was critically injured by pellets during clashes that had erupted in Pattan after the rape of the 3-year-old Bandipora girl succumbed to his injuries. Another youth, Mehraan Banday died of the pellet injuries to his head which he had suffered last year.
Grievous eye injuries due to pellets were also reported throughout the span of 6 months. On May 20, media reported that doctors were removing one eye of 14-year-old Asif Ahmad Parray which had suffered severe pellet damage. Asif had been hit by a full cartridge of pellets from a point-blank range when he was on his way home.
Notably, on May 30, a nonlocal labourer Sohanjeet who hails from Ariyia in Bihar, was hit by pellets in both eyes. In addition to these cases, local media sources reported at least 95 cases of people being hit by pellets, many of them in their eyes.

Attacks on Kashmiris living in India

Following the militant attack on CRFP convoy in Pulwama district of Kashmir on 14 February 2019 – in which at least 48 CRPF men were killed – thousands of Kashmiris living in Indian cities, came under attack of Hindu right-wing mobs and angry Indians.
In the first half of 2019, at least 43 incidents of attacks on Kashmiris across India were reported throughout India, with 42 of them alone in the first quarter of 2019. On 26 June, media reported that a resident of Kulgam district in south Kashmir was arrested by the Assam police for allegedly posting an “obscene comment” on social networking website Facebook against the widow of a CRPF man killed in a Maoist attack in Jharkhand on June 13.
The reported incidents of violence against Kashmiris in the first quarter of 2019 (42) are significantly higher than the combined incidents of attacks against Kashmiris in India last year in 2018 (22). As an immediate consequence of the militant attack on CRPF, violence escalated in Jammu city on February 15 after Hindu right-wing mobs attacked Muslim majority areas and Kashmiri Muslims, torched vehicles bearing Kashmir registered number plates, attacked homes of Kashmiris with stones and demanded them to leave Jammu city.
The government enforced a curfew in Jammu city for six days, yet violent right-wing mobs held protests and processions against the CRPF attack and their ire was directed towards Kashmiri Muslims living in Jammu.
There were attacks on Kashmiris living in Indian cities. Kashmiri students came under attack and many were beaten, threatened and demanded to leave colleges and universities. Some Kashmiri students were also booked for sedition for allegedly posting on social media. The incidents of these hate crimes against Kashmiris have only risen – with even the Governor of Meghalaya (a state in North Eastern India) calling for a social boycott of Kashmiris and Kashmiri products.
There was also news of Kashmiri students suspended from colleges. While calling for revenge against the militant attack on CRPF, a JNU professor called for “public execution of 40 Kashmiris for 40 soldiers.” The rising attacks against Kashmiris left thousands of Kashmiris living in India and cities like Jammu and Dehradun feeling unsafe and fearing for their lives.
Owing to such threats to life, scores of Kashmiri students returned to their homes, which gravely affected their studies and careers. The attacks on and persecution of Kashmiris living outside in Indian cities is not uncommon. Kashmiri people are looked at with suspicion and the idea of nationalism is projected by attacking Kashmiris.
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*The report uses the term "Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir (IAJK)". Click HERE for the full report

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