Kashmir: Refusing compensation to torture survivor a heartless step
India: 16 November 2017 6:18 am
“The Jammu and Kashmir government’s refusal to pay compensation to a man who was strapped to a jeep and paraded by army personnel is a callous attempt at evading its human rights obligations”, Amnesty International India said today.
On 27 October, the Jammu and Kashmir Home Department rejected a recommendation from the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to give Farooq Dar INR 1,000,000 (about USD 15,300) as compensation for “humiliation, physical [and] psychological torture, stress, wrongful restraint and confinement”. The Home Department said it could not accept the recommendation because “there were no accusation of human rights violations levelled against the state government” and that there was “no scheme or policy” under which the compensation could be paid, among other reasons.
“The Jammu and Kashmir government claims that it was not responsible for violating Farooq Dar’s rights, but refusing to pay him compensation for torture is also a human rights violation,” said Zahoor Wani, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India.
“The fact that Farooq Dar was tied to an army jeep and paraded is not in dispute. Authorities have an obligation to provide him with adequate remedy, which includes compensation, and ensure that those suspected of responsibility are prosecuted in civilian courts.”
“The Jammu and Kashmir government must not look for excuses to shirk its obligations. The Union Ministry of Defence should also ensure that the Army cooperates with the civilian investigation. This case should not join the long list of allegations against security force personnel in Kashmir which have gone unpunished in the last 27 years,” said Zahoor Wani.
“This incident highlights the need for a strong law to combat torture and other ill-treatment. India needs to urgently ratify the UN Convention against Torture, as recommended recently by India’s Law Commission.”
Farooq Dar was strapped to a moving Indian Army jeep and driven around for over five hours in Budgam district on 9 April. Amnesty International India met Farooq Dar on 14 April. He had several bruises and a dislocated wrist. He told Amnesty International India that he had been detained by Army personnel while he was travelling to Gampora village on his motorcycle on 9 April, the day of polling for a parliamentary by-election. Senior Army officials and central government functionaries later claimed that Army personnel had tied Farooq Dar to the jeep as a ‘human shield’ to deter people from throwing stones at their convoy.
On the basis of reports from the Jammu and Kashmir Police and statements by doctors from government hospitals in Srinagar, the SHRC ruled that Farooq Dar “did not suffer only humiliation publically but also suffered trauma which resulted in psychiatric stress which may remain with him for the rest of his life”.
Military investigations into human rights violations lack independence and have in the past served to shield perpetrators from prosecution. Prosecutions of security force personnel in J&K have seldom progressed due to restrictions imposed by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990 (AFSPA).
Section 7 of the AFSPA provides virtual immunity for human rights violations by security force personnel, as any civilian prosecution can only proceed after obtaining prior sanction from the central government. In the 27 years that the law has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir, not once has sanction been granted by the central government.
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