[Reader-list] kashmiri tragedy...

Faizan Ahmed faizan at sarai.net
Thu Aug 28 17:15:31 IST 2003

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Subject: [sada_amu] kashmiri tragedy...
Date: 28 Aug 2003 03:28:58 -0000
From: "mohamad junaid rather" <justjunaid at rediffmail.com>
To: ishfaq4 at rediffmail.com, khalid_waseem at rediffmail.com, 
sada_amu at yahoogroups.com, forevershells2002 at yahoo.co.in, 
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Renegade Militants in Kashmir

by Akhila Raman
December 21, 2002
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On July 16, the DNA test by the Central Forensic Laboratory,
Kolkata, has established[1] that the five persons killed by Indian
security forces in an "encounter" in Panchalthan following the
massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora in Kashmir Valley in March
2000, were in fact civilians and not "foreign militants" as
claimed by the forces. In the light of the latest findings, it is
worthwhile to re-examine the mystery of the Chattisinghpora
massacre and the possible reasons behind the subterfuge by the
Indian forces and the related phenomenon of renegade militants
used by India as the secret army in Kashmir, thus placing in
perspective the almost daily killings in Kashmir including
communal killings which tend to generate paranoia. It will be
argued that the series of unexplained killings by unidentified
gunmen where no militant outfit has claimed responsibility, could
very well have been engineered by India using renegades and that
only an impartial inquiry into these killings can shed light on
the true identity of the killers.

The set of events following the Sikh massacre[2] highlight the
ruthlessness and possible subterfuge by the Indian forces.

In March 2000, around the time of US President Bill Clinton's
visit to India, 35 Sikh men were murdered in Chattisinghpora
village in Kashmir by unidentified gunmen. India blamed Pakistan
sponsored "foreign" militants, while many Kashmiris blamed Indian
sponsored renegades. Renegades are former militants who have
surrendered and changed sides to the Indian forces.

Subsequently, five "terrorists" were liquidated by the Indian
forces and identified as "foreign militants" responsible for the
massacre; The bodies were quickly buried without a post-mortem;
Clothes and personal items were left burning near the burial

Curiously, around the same time, seventeen Muslims had strangely
gone missing from the villages around Chattisinghpora, some of
them kidnapped by armed men before witnesses; Soon, the relatives
of the missing men identified the half-burnt personal items at
Panchalthan as belonging to their relatives.

The relatives of the five murdered villagers held a series of
demonstrations for public exhuming of the bodies; A crowd of five
thousand unarmed civilians at Brakpora was fired upon by the
police; Nine more men died; When the bodies were finally exhumed,
they were discovered to have been burnt and defaced, but curiously
dressed in brand new army fatigues. They were identified by the
relatives as the local villagers who went missing. Initial
attempts in DNA testing of the exhumed bodies were compromised by
fudging of the DNA samples in a cover-up attempt by the
authorities; The latest results indicate that the five persons
killed by the Indian forces were indeed civilians and that Indian
forces engaged in a deliberate subterfuge to portray them as
"foreign" militants responsible for the Sikh massacre.

The Pandian Commission investigated the firing at Brakpora and
pronounced that three police officers be tried for murder, however
no action has been taken against them till date; No judicial
inquiry into the Sikh massacre itself has been conducted till date
despite repeated announcements.

Based on the above information, there is good reason to suspect
that Indian forces may have had something to hide about the
Chattisinghpora massacre and hence killed innocent villagers at
Panchalthan and made them scapegoats; Chattisinghpora may very
well have been engineered by the Indian forces using renegade
militants for political gains during Clinton's visit.

The phenomenon of renegade militants has been extensively
documented by Human Rights Watch[3]. Since the 1989 insurgency in
Kashmir, renegades have been used for extrajudicial executions of
militants (besides human right activists, journalists and other
civilians) and later conveniently dismissed as "intergroup
rivalries". In 1997, the Director General of Police Gurbachan
Jagat acknowledged[4] that the continued services of the renegades
had become counter-productive in view of their excesses; an
estimated 5000 renegades were reportedly 'rehabilitated' as
Special Police Officers (SPO) in the State police and many others
were absorbed in the security forces. The present number of
renegade militants continues to be significant and the estimates
vary; In 1999, Gurbachan Jagat admitted that there were 1200
renegades in the payroll of the government[25]; According to a
renegade representative Javed Shah, the number of renegades
exceeded 2000; The 2001 US State Department Report on Human Rights
in India estimates that there are about 3000 such renegades
operating in Kashmir[5] who remain the most dreaded group and
continue to engage in excesses.

The 1989 insurgency in the Valley arose as a result of genuine
grievances among the people due to the denial of the promised
plebiscite, erosion of autonomy promised under Article 370,
consistently rigged elections since 1951 and unemployment; this
insurgency started off as a popular one with hundreds of thousands
of Kashmiris marching on the streets of Srinagar between January
and May 1990. Following brutal repression by India, this popular
insurgency turned massively militant with Pakistan providing arms
and training to both indigenous and foreign militants in Kashmir,
thus adding fuel to the smouldering fire of discontent in the

It is well known that militants engage in human right violations-
an officially estimated 6673 civilians killed by the militants as
of 1998. However, human rights record of the Indian security
forces has been equally appalling- grave violations such as
arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and extrajudicial killings have
been extensively documented by human rights organizations such as
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and PUCL(People's Union
for Civil Liberties).

Let us take a snapshot of this record. 2477 civilians had been
killed by the Indian forces in the period 1990-1998[4][ PTI
release, 13 September 1998 ], according to conservative estimates
by official sources which mostly exclude thousands of custodial
killings. In April 1997, the Minister of State for Home Affairs
admitted that 454 persons were missing since 1990. In 1995,
Amnesty International documented 706 cases of custodial killings
in the period 1990-1994, nearly all after gruesome torture[7]; In
its response to Amnesty, the Government of India(GOI) responded to
519 out of 706 cases[8] in an evasive manner, dismissing half of
them as "encounter killings" without supporting evidence despite
eye-witness reports to the contrary; The government indicated that
there was prima facie evidence of human rights violations in 85
other cases which were said to be under investigation, however no
one has been brought to justice till date. On 26 April 1993, The
Kashmir Times run by Ved Bhasin carried a report of police records
listing 132 persons to have been killed in custody in the
preceding 33 days alone. Estimate of the number of custodial
killings since 1990 by human rights organizations runs in several
thousands, many of them are innocent civilians.

Hundreds of women have been raped with impunity and most of them
go unreported given the social stigma and fear of retribution by
the State; The government has been quick to deny and cover-up most
of those cases which do get reported; The reported gang-rape of
nine women at Shopian in October 1992 by an army unit was
dismissed off-handedly after investigation by army and police, the
very units charged with the crime, despite solid medical evidence
to the contrary[9]; no independent investigation by an impartial
agency was carried out. The reported mass rape of over 20 women at
Konan Poshpura in February 1991 was also handled in a similar
evasive manner; the complaint was not investigated in a timely
manner by an impartial agency and the medical evidence was
dismissed without good cause and Amnesty's request for medical
records were ignored; the women still remain unmarried or have
been deserted by their husbands and one of the victims who was
nine months pregnant during the incident delivered a baby with a
fractured left arm[7]; Governor Girish Saxena who denied the
incident admitted to mass rapes in the past by the indian forces
however[10]. Rapes continue to be reported, an example being the
April 17 gang-rape of a 17-year old girl in Pahalgam[11].

While the Government did take certain positive steps by taking
action against a fraction of the human right violations and
instituted a National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) to look into
such violations, such actions have not been effective in improving
the human rights record; For instance, the NHRC lacks the
jurisdiction to investigate complaints of violations by the army
and paramilitary forces. The Government continues to deny
permission for various human rights organizations such as Human
Rights Watch, Amnesty and UN Special Rapporteur of Torture, to
visit Jammu and Kashmir and investigate the violations.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 and the Disturbed
Areas Act of 1976 give police extraordinary powers of search and
arrest without warrants and detention[12]. According to one NGO,
there were 1,300 writs of habeas corpus pending in the Jammu and
Kashmir High Court in 1999 in such detention cases. The government
is also known to abuse such powers, an example being the case of
Yasin Malik, chairman of JKLF(political group since 1994). He was
arrested under POTA on 23 March on charges of accepting illegal
money, a charge which he refuted as a frame-up; Intriguingly the
prosecution failed to present the mandatory challan within ninety
days of his detention under POTA despite repeated directions by
the court and the judge ordered his release on bail[13];
subsequently he was rearrested under the Public Safety Act(PSA).
The events clearly show that the POTA case was indeed a

According to Amnesty, the number of complaints of human right
violations filed against the security forces is only a fraction of
the actual number, since the government has issued secret and
illegal orders to the police not to register complaints of human
rights violations against the security forces in First Information
Reports, a charge which the government did not deny in its
response to Amnesty[8]. According to 2000 US State Department
Report, between January 1990 and September 1998, only 295 members
of security forces have been prosecuted and punished for any of
these crimes, though they have committed thousands of human right
violations[12]; the exact details of trials and punishments have
not been made public. In addition the Armed Forces (Jammu and
Kashmir) Special Powers Act provides that unless approval is
obtained from the central Government, no "prosecution, suit, or
other legal proceeding shall be instituted...against any person in
respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of
the powers of the act." According to human rights groups, such
provisions allow security forces to operate with virtual

The army-renegade nexus has been suspected in many other prominent
killings before.
Jalil Andrabi, the human rights activist was abducted by the
paramilitary and renegades in March 1996 in the presence of
eye-witnesses and tortured to death in custody. Despite the
Government's initial denials of the army's involvement, the
Special Investigation Team identified Major Avtar Singh in April
1997 as the person responsible for the death; however the accused
major was released with no punishment[12].
H.N. Wanchoo, the noted human rights activist had documented and
filed writ petitions for hundreds of custodial deaths in 1992;
Being a Pandit, his petitions were an embarrassment to the
government. He was assassinated by unidentified gunmen in December
1992; Although the government claimed that the persons responsible
belonged to the militant outfit Jamiat-ul Mujahidin, human rights
activists who investigated the case have alleged that the
militants of that group were released from jail on condition that
they kill Wanchoo[14]. Following his death, none of the cases were
heard in the court and lawyers attempting to get the cases listed
have reportedly found that many of the files of these cases were
now missing from the High Court premises.
Zafar Mehraj, a veteran Kashmiri journalist was shot and
critically injured as he returned from an interview with Koko
Parray, the head of the state-sponsored paramilitary group
Ikhwan-ul Muslimoon. The evidence strongly suggests the
involvement of state-sponsored militia forces.
Dr. Farooq Ahmad Ashai, chief of orthopaedics and a human rights
activist who had spoken against the government was killed by
gunshots from a CRPF bunker. The government stated that he had
been killed in 'crossfire', despite evidence to the contrary. Dr.
Abdul Ahad Guru, a surgeon who had treated torture victims was
killed by unidentified gunmen.[15]
Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq and Abdul Ghani Lone, two Kashmiri activists
were killed by unidentified gunmen on 21 May 1990 and 2002
respectively. In both cases, the government blamed militants while
Kashmiris blamed Indian sponsored renegades.

Communal killings:

Though militancy is mainly concentrated in the Valley and is
largely non-communal, some militant outfits operate in the Jammu
region and wage a communal campaign. Since 1990, an officially
estimated 19,866 people have been killed in J&K, half of them
civilians, including 982 Hindus and Sikhs as of 1999[16]. In the
communal killings in the Jammu region, 307 Hindus and 377 Muslims
have been killed in the Doda and Rajouri districts as of 1998,
according to official reports[17]; Hindu fundamentalism by the
local armed Village Defence Committee (VDC) backed by the Army and
terrorism by Muslim insurgents in defense of the Muslim community,
have fed each other. While many of the communal killings have been
perpetrated by the militants, the hand of the renegades cannot be
ruled out in some of them. There is compelling reason to suspect
the Indian sponsored renegades in the Chattisinghpora massacre, as
we have already seen. In August 2000 killing of 35 civilians
including 23 Amarnath pilgrims in Pahalgam, it has come to light
that most of the people were killed in fact by the panic-stricken
CRPF jawans who continued firing for another 20 minutes after the
two suspected militants were killed[18]; a commission under
Lt.Gen. Mukherjee found 17 police officers responsible. The hand
of the renegades cannot be ruled out in the massacre of 23
Kashmiri Pandits in 1998 at Wandhama by unidentified gunmen; The
All Party Hurriyat Conference condemned the massacre, called for
investigation by Amnesty and observed a protest strike;
subsequently Amnesty's request for investigation was refused by
the government.

In early 1990, a few prominent Kashmiri Pandits were killed by the
JKLF for political reasons; Though the JKLF tried to explain that
the killings of Pandits were not communal, the murders caused a
scare among the minority Hindu community. The rise of new militant
groups, some warnings in anonymous posters and some unexplained
killings of innocent members of the community contributed to an
atmosphere of insecurity for the Kashmiri Pandits, which led to
the exodus of most of the 162,500 Hindus in the Valley, including
the entire Kashmiri Pandit community in March. Some of the
unexplained killings could very well have been due to renegades.
Joint reconciliation efforts by members from both Muslim and
Pandit communities were actively discouraged by Jagmohan[19].
There have been charges that this exodus was encouraged by
Jagmohan[20], who has a reputation for having anti-Muslim
sentiments[21], to enable India to have a "free hand" in dealing
with the Muslims in the Valley, a charge which Jagmohan has
denied. A thorough, independent enquiry alone can show if this
exodus was entirely unavoidable. An estimated 36,000 Hindu
families and 20,000 Muslim families (as of 1993) have fled the
Valley and many of them still languish in the refugee camps in
Jammu and Azad Kashmir, being displayed by India and Pakistan
respectively for propaganda.

Given the well documented phenomenon of Indian sponsored renegades
and given the subterfuge of the Indian forces in incidents such as
Panchalthan and the killing of Andrabi, one can see a pattern of
impunity on the part of Indian forces - extrajudicial executions,
denial and dismissal of the killings as "encounter killings" or
conveniently placing the blame on "foreign militants". Only an
impartial investigation by an independent agency can find the
truth in such attacks by unidentified gunmen, where no militant
outfit has claimed responsibility - whether separatist militants
or renegades were involved.

Pakistan's support for the insurgency has been well documented by
Human Rights Watch[6]; The JKLF admitted in a press release in
1990 that ISI had financed the operations of the JKLF and the
Hizb. In November 1995, a BBC documentary programme showed
evidence of camps in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan, supported by the
Jamaat-i-Islami (political wing of the Hizb), where fighters were
trained and openly professed their intention of fighting in
Kashmir[22]. Pakistan favours the pro-Pakistan militant group
Hizbul Mujahedin and has played a role in decimating the JKLF, an
indigenous and secular pro-independence group. However, there have
also been instances when Indian accusations have proved false; For
instance, in the Indian Defence Review of July 1989, one of
India's top defence specialists, K.Subrahmanyam, cited the
existence of a secret Pakistani plan to start a Kashmiri uprising,
code-named 'Operation Topac', that the late General Zia-ul-Haq
reportedly set in motion. However, this plan was later shown to be
false and concocted by Indian analysts as a hypothetical exercise,
a fact Subrahmanyam later acknowledged[23]. Curiously, Operation
Topac continues to be quoted by Indian officials including the
Indian Embassy.

Kashmiris are alienated from both countries given brutal
repression by India and violence by pro-Pakistan militants. In a
recent poll by MORI [BBC News, 31 May], only 9% and 13% of people
of Kashmir Valley, where the discontent and insurgency is
concentrated, have preferred to join India and Pakistan
respectively[24]. Caught in the crossfire between militants and
Indian security forces, Kashmir continues to bleed.

If the sorry plight of the Kashmiris were not reason enough, the
threat of a devastating nuclear war between India and Pakistan
over this region offers an additional reason to start the process
of solving the dispute through diplomatic and political means. It
is imperative that India and Pakistan pull back their dangerous
military buildup, put an end to all violence in Kashmir including
Pakistan sponsored violence and militancy and Indian State
sponsored violence and repression and engage in unconditional
dialogues to resolve the Kashmir dispute, including Kashmiris in
the process.


[1]The Hindu, `Security forces killed civilians', 17 July 2002.

[2] Pankaj Mishra, Death in Kashmir


[4]Amnesty International, Disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir,

[5]US State Department Report , March 4, 2002.

[6] Human Rights Watch, India: Arms and Abuses in Indian Punjab
and Kashmir, 1994.

[7]Amnesty International, Torture and Deaths in Custody in Jammu
and Kashmir, 1995.

[8]Amnesty International, Analysis of the Government of India's
response to Amnesty International's report on torture and deaths
in custody in Jammu and Kashmir , 1995.

[9]Asia Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, The Human Rights
Crisis in Kashmir: A Pattern of Impunity, 1993, pp.98-107.

[10]Tavleen Singh, Kashmir: A Tragedy of Errors, New Delhi 1995,

[11]BBC News, Kashmir troops held after rape, april 19, 2002.

[12]US State Department Report , February 23, 2001.

[13] Kashmir Times Editorial, Ugly Face of Democracy, July 21,

[14]Human Rights Watch, Behind the Kashmir Conflict, 1999.


[16]Indian Ministry of Home Affairs,Attacks on Minorities -
Migration from the Valley.

[17]Praveen Swami, The Kargil War, New Delhi 1999, pp.71-2.

[18] Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Report On human rights violations in

[19]Balraj Puri, Kashmir: Towards Insurgency, New Delhi 1993,

[20]Kuldip Nayar, Kashmiri Pandits: Political games worsen their
plight , Times of India, 18 April 97

[21] Jagmohan, Current. 26 May - 1 June 1990, as quoted in PHRO
Report, 1990.: "Every Muslim in Kashmir is a militant today. All
of them are for secession from India. I am scuttling Srinagar
Doordarshan's programmes because every one there is a
militant.....The bullet is the only solution for Kashmir. Unless
the militants are fully wiped out, normalcy can't return to the

[22] Victoria Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict, New York 2000,

[23] Kargil Review Committee Report , 2000.

[24]BBC News, Kashmiris speak out for peace,31 May, 2002.

[25]Indian Express, J&K's friendly ultras say pay more, or
else...,4 May, 1999.

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