Kashmiri Children: Victims of Indian State’s
Since August 19, 1984, the United Nations (UN) each year observes June 04 as the “International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.” Initially this day was observed while keeping in focus the victims of the 1982 Lebanon War in which a great number of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese children became victims of Israel’s acts of aggression.
Later on, the scope of this day was expanded to recognize the pain and suffering endured by children all over the world who are victims to physical, mental and emotional abuse. The observance of this day also affirms the international body’s (UN) commitment to protect the rights of children throughout the world.
The atrocities and human rights (HR) violations by the Indian state in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IoJK/IoK) is a known fact across the globe (well-recorded and documented). Deliberately or unintentionally, the political, strategic, military and economic aspects of Jammu & Kashmir dispute have always been mainly focused while the humanitarian aspect is eclipsed unfortunately, especially by the world media and major global powers.
Multiple generations of the Kashmiri people have been subjected to worst kind of tyranny, discrimination, torture and barbarism at the hands of Indian occupying forces (IOF) for more than 70 years. But new records of cruelty have been set by the IOF since 2003. The most shocking fact regarding this phenomenon is that the children have been one of the biggest victim and target of Indian state’s brutality which is a clear violation of international human rights laws.
Various reports of atrocities, HR violations and crimes against humanity by the Indian occupying forces in IoJK have been published by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International (AI), Save the Children, and Human Rights Watch (HRW). Unfortunately, no action has been taken against the perpetrators and neither was India held accountable for such heinous crimes by the world community.
The condition of basic human rights was already very dreadful but things further deteriorated after August 05, 2020. The children in IoJK live in the most militarized zone in the world with over 900,000 IOC in the state. This makes the Kashmiri children the most vulnerable group to be exposed to all the grave violations against children as laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (a total of 12 basic rights).
Fear, intimidation and torture have been the Indian states main instrument of control in IoJK since day one. Subjecting children in IoJK to physical, mental and emotional torture is another tool used by the Indian occupying forces in the state to strike fear and terror among the Kashmiri populace.
Abduction and kidnapping of young Kashmir boys from their homes in the middle of night is a routine occurrence in IoK. Under the garb of fake search operations, the Indian occupying forces enter homes unannounced and pick up the young boys while molest girls and women in the houses. The abducted Kashmiri boys are kept in army camps and police stations in the state, tortured, molested and illegally held for indefinitely. Parents of the children have no means to ascertain the whereabouts of their children and whether their children will be returned or not. To make matters worse, no cases are registered of First Information Reports (FIRs) filed either.
There have been countless reports of child rape cases against the state police and Indian occupying forces in IoK. To name one, the January 2018 rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua district of IoJK by police personnel. The brutal tactics of Indian occupying forces (such as abductions, torture, rape and killing) against children in Kashmir is a clear testament to the fact that in IoJK children are not indirect victims of conflict, but rather at many occasions, they are the primary targets of state violence.
It appears that the pattern of state violence against children in IoK is a deliberate and calculated strategy of India as part of its declared policy to contain uprising and militancy in the state.
According to a report published by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) in 2018, approximately 318 children were killed in various incidents of violence in IoK from the period from 2003-2017. The killing of 318 children constitutes 6.95% of the civilian killings in last fifteen years, as per the report. Scores of children died mainly because of negligence of the occupying forces.
It is pertinent to note here that in IoK, no legal and normative processes and practices are in place to protect children’s rights. As a result, hundreds of children have been booked and arrested under the repressive and draconian Public Safety Act (PSA), while completely disregarding their age and the fact that they are children.
India has also been called out on its atrocities by numerous international bodies and human rights organisations such as UN, European Union, AI, HRW, and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The International HR Association of American Minorities published a report back in 2000 highlighting India’s Non-Compliance with Convention on the Rights of Child. One can only imagine the worsening of the situation after Modi-led BJP’s ascent to power. A thorough assessment of the terms of the Convention and the reality in Kashmir reveals that Kashmiri children are completely deprived of their basic rights till date.
The Indian state is now putting Kashmiri children as young as 10 years of age in isolation via ‘de-radicalization detention camps’. The Indian Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rawat is on record alluding to this fact. By doing this, India is making a mockery of international law as such practice is against the Convention on Rights of Child.
The interview of Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, details a heart-wrenching account of the ordeal and victimization faced by children in Kashmir, especially after August 05, 2020. Ms Kavita in her interview states with documented evidences that over 13,000 children were abducted by the state police and Indian occupying forces after August 05 and were illegally detained for 45 days.
It is shocking to see the silence of the international community at the blatant disrespect of international law displayed by India repeatedly. Unchecked rule-breaking is only adding to India’s arrogance and disregard for human rights.
Numerous sane voices in India are now surfacing each day speaking against the Indian atrocities not only in IoK but across the country against all minorities (religious & ethnic) and marginalized groups. In January 2019, IAS officer Shah Faesal resigned under protest over the ‘unabated killings in Kashmir’ and the “marginalization of Indian Muslims”.
The world needs to realize that Indian oppression in Kashmir is killing the innocent children in Kashmir on a daily basis. The Indian occupying forces are snatching the dreams of Kashmiri children by blinding them with pellet guns and destroying them psychologically with brutal tactics like rape and torture, scarring them for life. The international community needs to amp its efforts and stop India from setting off a vicious cycle of bloodshed and chaos.
India under Modi is not a safe place. It is an anti-thesis of a free and democratic world. The self-proclaimed ‘world’s largest democracy’ has become a hot-bed of religious fanatics and ultra-nationalist psychopaths.
In the words of the great Nelson Mandela, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”