Thursday, 24 October 2019

Helpless Kashmiri families fear for their children: report

On August 5, India revoked occupied Kashmir’s autonomy, dividing the disputed territory into two regions to be controlled by New Delhi.

Additional troops were flown into the disputed valley before the surprise move. In the weeks since the illegal lockdown, hundreds of Kashmiri politicians and activists have been detained or put under house arrest. Thousands of Kashmiri men – including minors – have been arrested in the name of maintaining order during nocturnal raids by Indian occupying forces.

The BBC spoke to 17 Kashmiri families who said many children were illegally detained in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) by Indian forces.

The British broadcaster interviewed some of the victims – with their faces hidden as they fear reprisals from Indian forces – who were still trying to forget the ordeal they went through.

“We were beaten up at the camp and told, ‘you throw stones (at us), you seek freedom, what kind of freedom do you seek?’ I wished for death, so I didn’t have to watch the children being tortured,” said a Kashmiri man who was detained along with his 16-year-old son.

He said they were picked up by the Indian army and then locked up at a police station for six days. “What could I do? I was powerless.”

His son was badly affected by what happened to him and his father.

“I feel very scared when it gets dark. I stay indoors. I can’t eat food or sleep at night. I am scared they will come back again,” said the boy.

Lawyer Mir Urfi told the BBC how basic human rights were being “totally” neglected in the valley.

“People are arrested, they are kept in custody, be it juveniles or be it majors, without legal justification, without being given access to their families, without being given access to legal aid. That is a basic human right that is available to every human being on this planet. And that is being totally denied to the Kashmiris,” she said.

Another Kashmiri woman told the story of her 14-year-old son who was picked up by the Indian police in the dark.

“They (Indian police) came around midnight. They took my husband away. Then they asked us to produce our son in exchange for my husband’s release,” said the woman.

According to the BBC, Indian security forces did not reply to its request for a response.

On the other hand, the Indian army claimed it would investigate the allegations only if the identities of the interviewees were shared.

With weeks into the crackdown, the report continued, many Kashmiri families feared that their children might be next.

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