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J&K: HRW flays India, militants
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
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September 12, 2006 16:29 IST

A New York-based human rights group Human Rights Watch on Tuesday blamed the Indian government for its 'failure in checking rights violations by security forces and militants in Jammu and  Kashmir.'

Releasing the group's 156 page report titled 'Everyone Lives In Fear: Patterns of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir' [Images], HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said the report "documents recent abuses by the army and paramilitaries, as well as by the militants, many of whom are backed by Pakistan."

"Militants have carried out bombing and grenade attacks against civilians, targeted killings, torture and attacks upon religious and ethnic minorities," HRW said in a statement.

"Human rights abuses have been a cause as well as a consequence of the insurgency in Kashmir," the Asia director said.

"Indian security forces have committed torture and arbitrary detentions and they continue to 'execute Kashmiris in fake encounter killing' claiming that these killings take place during armed clashes with militants," Adams added.

"The report shows how impunity has fueled the insurgency. If the Indian authorities had addressed these abuses seriously when they took place,  public confidence in the authorities would have increased and future abuses may have been substantially reduced," Adams said.

"Impunity has been enabled by Indian law," the report said and it "documents cases where Indian security forces have shot civilians under the authority of laws such as Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act."

"These laws, enacted near the beginning of the conflict allow lethal force to be used against any person who is acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being in force in the disturbed area," Adams said.

The report also documents serious abuses by militants, many of whom continue to receive backing from Pakistan.

"Numerous massacres, bombings, killings and attacks on schools attributed to the militants are often intentionally downplayed by supporters of Kashmiri independence or its accession to Pakistan. There is considerable evidence that over many years Pakistan has provided Kashmiri militants with training, weapons, funding and sanctuary. Under US pressure after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Pakistan banned several militant groups in January 2002 including Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayiba, but these groups have continued to operate after changing names. India blames these groups for many armed attacks," it said. 

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