Residents of the Kashmir Valley and resistance leaders opposed to Indian rule of the region have long accused the Indian government of using its institutions to meet the ends of control rather than address issues of justice and political rights.
In a shift in strategy, armed rebellion against Indian rule has been largely replaced with massive rock throwing street protests since 2008, but India has not countered with meaningful legal reforms or political initiatives.
Analysts say this latest report adds urgency to calls for an international legal intervention by bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as movement toward a political resolution for the long-running Kashmir dispute. “This report should be sent to the prosecutor of ICC who can take suo moto cognizance on the basis of the evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity it contains and persuade the court for proceedings on the subject,” says Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain, who teaches international law at the Central University here.
The accused perpetrators include two major generals and three brigadiers of the Indian Army, besides nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels, 78 majors, and 25 captains. A recently retired director general of police and a serving inspector general are also named along with 37 senior officials of the federal paramilitary forces.
The 354-page report contains significant evidence against the government forces’ personnel named but notes that any institutional or political will was absent for “a trial where the crime and the guilt of a perpetrator can be proven beyond reasonable doubt.”
The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, an emergency military law extended to Kashmir in 1990 in the wake of a full blown armed rebellion against Indian rule, requires New Delhi’s permission for prosecuting federal armed forces personnel accused of crimes like extra-judicial murder. Not a single such sanction has been granted despite dozens of requests by the local authorities.