HIRPORA: The soldiers came after midnight, Abid Khan says, his hands trembling, one of around two dozen young men in just one part of Kashmir who say they have been tortured by the Indian army.
The alleged abuse, residents say, is aimed at creating a climate of fear after India stripped the long-restive, blood-soaked Himalayan region of its autonomy on August 5.Khan, 26, from Hirpora village in Shopian district, says he was dragged out and blindfolded along with his brother, who has learning difficulties, on August 14.
“They gave electric shocks to my brother right on the road outside. I heard him scream painfully,” Khan told AFP, showing marks on his arms, legs and buttocks. The camp major, Khan said, accused him of inviting Riyaz Naikoo from Hizbul Mujahideen—one of several militant groups fighting Indian rule—to his recent marriage.
An uprising in Indian Kashmir—backed New Delhi says by Pakistan which since 1947 has controlled the other part of the region—has killed tens of thousands since 1989, mostly civilians.
New Delhi says its Kashmir lockdown since last month, with mobile service and the internet still snapped in most areas, is to prevent “terrorists” backed by Islamabad from stirring up trouble.
India’s national security advisor has denied that the military has committed any atrocities, a statement echoed by Colonel Rajesh Kalia, an army spokesman in Kashmir.
“All counter-terrorist operations are conducted in the most professional and people-friendly manner. Allegations of manhandling levelled against the army are completely baseless,” Kalia told AFP.But people in Hirpora say they often hear screams from the army camp at night. The pattern is often of soldiers raiding homes, taking identity cards and mobiles and telling young men to report to the camps to retrieve them.