271 killings, 177 cordon operations, 51 internet blockades in JK in first half of 2019: JKCCS

The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) in their six monthly Human Rights review has observed that in the first half of 2019 in Jammu and Kashmir witnessed continued and increased violence.

The first six months of 2019 recorded 271 killings in Jammu and Kashmir in various incidents of violence, which include 43 civilians, 120 militants and 108 Indian armed forces personnel.

Killing Figures (January to June 2019)

Month Civilians Militants Armed Forces Total Killings
January 2019 02 17 08 27
February 2019 05 22 60 87
March 2019 14 19 15 48
April 2019 05 11 03 19
May 2019 11 27 04 42
June 2019 06 24 18 48
Total Killings 43 120 108 271

While February 2019 recorded the highest (87) killings in Jammu and Kashmir, April 2019 witnessed the least (19) killings, the report said.

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 Jammu and Kashmir, 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, the report noted.

The four South Kashmir districts of Anantnag (3), Kulgam (2), Shopian (5), and Pulwama (11) accounted for the highest (21) civilian killings in the first half of 2019. The North Kashmir districts of Kupwara (4), Bandipora (2), Baramulla (3) recorded 9 killings, while the Central Kashmir district of Srinagar recorded 2 killings. While Poonch recorded 5 civilian killings, the districts of Doda, Baderwah and Kishtwar recorded 3 civilian killings, one from each. Jammu district witnessed 2 civilian killings while one civilian killed was a non-local person from Uttar Pradesh.

Among the 108 Indian armed forces and Jammu Kashmir police personnel killed in Jammu and Kashmir, 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 14 February 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), the report said.

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15 armed forces committed suicide, 3 CRPF troopers were killed in a fratricidal incident by a CRPF trooper in Udhampur district of Jammu and 2 Special Police Officers (SPO) of Jammu Kashmir Police were killed by suspected militants.

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 IAJK by Indian armed forces. The four south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian witnessed the majority of the CASO’s.

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. 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. 14 of those booked under PSA occurred in the three-month period of April to June 2019. Those booked under the PSA include Hurriyat (G) district president Bandipora Sheikh Danish Mushtaq, Hurriyat (G) senior leader and District President Kulgam Muhammad Ramzan Sheikh, and Zonal president of the banned Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Noor Muhammad Kalwal.

In the three month period of April to June 2019, as many as 90 youth were arrested in nights raids through out the Kashmir valley, a majority of them from South Kashmir.

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.

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 30 May, a non-local labourer Sohanjeet who hails from Ariyia in Bihar, was hit by pellets in both eyes.

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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.

Internet services continue to be curtailed as part of the ongoing counter insurgency measures by the government in Jammu and Kashmir. In the first half of 2019, internet services were suspended 51 times in Jammu and Kashmir and most of these suspensions of data services were reported in South Kashmir.

In the first half of 2019, at least 43 incidents of attacks on Kashmiris across India were reported through out India, with 42 of them alone in the first quarter of 2019.

The report points out that civilian properties continue to be damaged and destroyed during the encounters between militants and armed forces, however the normalization of this type of violence in Jammu and Kashmir has resulted in less media focus on reporting and recording these incidents. While in the first quarter of 2019, at least 18 cases of destruction of civilian properties were reported in Jammu and Kashmir, in the next three months of April, May and June instances of destruction of civilian properties began to be less reported due to unknown reasons.

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Torture is used rampantly by the Indian armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir to intimidate, threaten and punish the people. Many cases of torture and inhuman treatment were reported in the first half of 2019.

One of the cases of torture in the first six months of this year was the case of Rizwan Assad Padith, a 29-year-old school teacher from Tral. Rizwan was killed in custody due to torture after he was illegally detained in Cargo Camp of Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Government in Jammu and Kashmir continues to curb freedom of expression and dissent of the civilian population and frequently resorts to arbitrary arrest and illegal detention as well as banning of events and organizations and arresting journalists, the report notes.

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