November 2005 News

Singh wants check on rights abuse in Kashmir

23 November 2005
The Dawn
Jawed Naqvi

New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has sought durable and verifiable checks on human rights abuse in held Kashmir ahead of a visit to New Delhi by US Congressmen who have been critical of violence against civilians there, according to informed sources. The sources told Dawn that Indian officials had drawn up a list of verifiable measures to be put in place before Republican Congressman Dan Burton, heading a house sub-committee on human rights, starts his visit here on Monday as the head of a 15-member delegation. A meeting of senior officials — including the director-general of military operations, the heads of paramilitary forces and the director-general of police in Jammu and Kashmir, was held at the home ministry on Wednesday to implement the prime minister’s directive. Mr Burton, who has been seen with suspicion by New Delhi in the past for advocacy of Kashmir and Sikh causes, has a peculiar hold on the current Indian administration because of his support for US-India nuclear cooperation in civilian energy, a holy cow with Dr Singh. Just 10 days before Dr. Singh was sworn in as prime minister last year, Mr Burton was leading an inquiry into the ‘ongoing Kashmir land dispute’ between India and Pakistan. His subcommittee was specifically charged with exploring ‘the resulting egregious human rights violations, including summary executions, rape and routine beatings.’ According to Mr Burton, “the citizens of Kashmir appear to have been tragically victimized during this long-standing conflict, enduring a variety of brutal and sadistic forms of torture. I think it is most appropriate …… that we take a serious look at this situation.” Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik, who arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday, said he was not aware of the visit. However, sources said Mr. Burton’s delegation was likely to meet Kashmir resistance leaders during their tour. Mr Malik, however, mentioned his visit to Palhalan in the Patan area of Kashmir on Nov 13, a day after two young students were apparently used as ‘human shields’ by Indian troops in a fire- fight against militants. Both the boys were killed. An Indian government statement confirmed that a ‘high level meeting’ was called on Wednesday by Indian Home Secretary V. K. Duggal to discuss the ‘observance of human rights by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.’ The meeting focussed on ‘the need for holding transparent and expeditious enquiries into human rights-related cases, sensitization of security forces and preparation of people–friendly standard operating procedures by security forces for cordon, search, night curfews, etc.’


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