Human Rights

Children in Kashmir face target killings, sexual abuse, 318 killed in 15 years, says report

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Srinagar: A report on the impact of violence on children of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) caused by the ‘state and militarization’ from last fifteen years (2003-2017) reveals that ‘not less than 318 children (in the age group of 1 to 17) in various incidents of violence have been killed here.

Out of the 318, Indian armed forces and JK Police have killed 144 among them, and 147 have been killed by the ‘unidentified gunmen while 2 have been killed by militants and 15 have died in Cross Line Of Control Shelling. In absence of proper records and documentation, it is estimated that the actual number could be much higher.

The report titled ‘Terrorized: Impact of Violence on the Children of Jammu and Kashmir (2018)’ was Thursday released by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). The data for the report was collected from newspaper reports of last fifteen years and through fieldwork conducted by JKCCS research and editing team that includes Irfan Mehraj, Natasha Rather, Sheikh Adil and Syed Javaid Kazmi.

The report goes back to explore the dark phase (1990-2003) of ‘Tehreek’-incentive in Kashmir, the beginning of the insurgency. It assesses the violence against children during the period of fifteen long years and how the children fall prey to the ‘illegal and administrative detention’ in Jammu and Kashmir.

The report numbers the schools occupied by Indian Forces in Kashmir and shows how the memories of schools that should have been beautiful, ‘haunt the children as instead of a teacher with a chalk in his/her hand, they think of a man in uniform with a gun in hand’.

The report explores ‘lying under the carpet’ issues like sexual violence against the children who suffer directly or indirectly due to the ongoing Kashmir conflict.

When it comes to the killings in J&K, 318 children constitutes of 6.95 percent of the total 4,571 civilian killings in last fifteen years. At least 16,436 killings were recorded in Jammu and Kashmir, and the majority of them included alleged militants numbering at least 8,537 killings.

“The numbers indicate that in the last fifteen years J&K in an average year has witnessed at least 1,095 killings which belies the government’s claims of ‘return to normalcy’,” the report reads.

 

Citing the cases from the 1990’s, the report mentions that in the year 1990 alone at least 12 incidents of mass violence were ‘perpetrated against civilians by Indian armed forces in various parts of the valley resulting in the killing of at least 421 civilians, including 4 children.’

The youngest to die, as per the report was a 10-month-old baby.

Psychological and Sexual Abuse

The lives of the children who get spared by the death blows are miserable and suffer mentally, emotionally. An example of such, are the children who have been orphaned, or those who have been sexually abus

“The violence resulted in many children losing their parents and the support of livelihood, thus pushed to live in orphanages or through the support of charities. A 2012 study by United Kingdom-based charity Save the Children found that Kashmir valley has 2,15,000 orphans out of which 37 percent have lost one or both parents to the prevailing conflict,” the report reads.

“Of the 318 children killed in the last 15 years, 121 children fall in the age group of below 12 years, while 154 children killed are between 13 to 17 years. Infants (up to 2 years of age) to have become victims of violence as 13 infants have been killed in last fifteen years. The youngest victim of violence in Jammu and Kashmir in last fifteen years was the 10-month-old baby, Irfan, who was killed in 2010, when his mother was caught between government forces and protestors in Dangiwacha, Baramulla,” reads the report.

With no consideration to the age or the gender, the report reads that out of these 318 children, 13 to 17 were girls which accounts to 22.64 percent of the total children killed. It also includes the rapes and murders that have taken place here, either committed by armed forces or Ikhwanis.

“While one teenage girl was raped and murdered by the armed forces in 2009 in Shopian, another 16-year-old girl from Bandipora committed suicide after being raped by an Ikhwani.”

All regions have suffered

Among Jammu and Kashmir divisions, Kashmir accounts for 67.29 percent of the total killings of children in the last fifteen years, while Jammu division that is comparatively a calm region, accounts for 30.18 percent of the total killings.

“Out of the total 318 killings of children, 214 took place in Kashmir division while 96 killings occurred in Jammu division and the rest i.e. 8 of the killings’ location could be not ascertained.”

Geographically, the report finds out that the north Kashmir districts of Bandipora, Baramulla and Kupwara jointly accounted for 110 killings, while the four south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama accounted for 59 killings.

The central Kashmir districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal recorded 45 killings. Kupwara district of north Kashmir recorded the highest number of killings with 53, followed by Baramulla, which recorded 41 killings, and Srinagar, which witnessed 27 killings.

“The least killings of children in Kashmir division were recorded in Ganderbal with 3 killings in last fifteen years. In the Jammu division, which recorded 96 killings of children, the twin districts in the Chenab valley region – Poonch and Doda, recorded the highest number of killings of children in the last fifteen years with Poonch recording 26 killings followed by Doda with 21 killings,” it reads.

No stoppage in the ‘Normalcy’ period

Questioning the J&K government’s statements from 2003-2008 , a period which various representatives from the government called as ‘years of peace process’, the report reads that the very years ‘saw the killing of 184 children, which accounts for more than half i.e. 57.86 percent of the total killings of children in the last fifteen years.

“In the same period at least 16, 436 took place, including the killing of at least 4571 civilians. The figures reveal that contrary to government claims of the return to normalcy in these years, the scale of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, and especially violence against children saw an upward trend. The highest number of killings of children in the last fifteen years took place in the years 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2010 – with 50 killings in 2006, followed by 48 killings in 2010 and 36 killings each in the years 2005 and 2003 respectively.”

“It is our belief that the violence against children in Jammu and Kashmir as per our estimates could be much higher than available figures suggest as the trends in reporting cases of violence against children weren’t prominent in the first decade of 2000’s. However, the period of 1990 to 2005 was the deadliest in terms of the scale of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, as the majority of the total killings since the start of armed conflict happened in this period,” JKCCS team writes.

Armed Forces Special Powers (AFSPA)

The report says that the impunity enjoyed by armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir is not only because of draconian laws but also because of systematic lawlessness prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir. The lawlessness is allowed by the state to give the armed forces complete control over the civilian population and give them free rein in neutralizing the emerging situation.

Apart from the grown-ups, children also disappeared and some of them have also died in custodial killings, fake encounters, clashes, bomb blasts or cross firing, as per the report.

In a survey (published in the form of a report Dead But Not Forgotten in 2006 ) on the impact of violence by JKCCS districts Baramulla and Bandipora in North Kashmir, it was found that among the total 5106 number of people killed and forcibly disappeared since armed conflict in 1989 to 2005 – 392 were children. The number of children killed in these two districts from 1989 to 2006 account for nearly 8% of the total people killed.

“Not less than 36 children, 10 among them alleged militants, were forcibly disappeared by the Indian armed forces in the two districts of Baramulla and Bandipora.”

The youngest child forcibly disappeared is 9-year-old Javed Ahmad Dar of Ladoora, Rohama from Baramulla district. Javed was disappeared in November 1991 and till now no trace of him can be found.

It also mentions the massacre at Surankote in which ‘11 children were not only shot dead at point-blank range but also their bodies were dismembered reveals the entrenching and horrible ways through which large-scale militarization in J&K has created a culture of absolute impunity as these crimes have remained largely unpunished.’

Moreover, ‘Twenty-seven children have died to due drowning either caused due to the negligence of armed forces in Wular lake tragedy or being chased by government forces during a protest, where victims find no way of escape from the armed forces and forced to jump into water bodies, resulting in their death.

Children in Jammu and Kashmir continue to live in the most militarized zone of the world, ‘with the presence of 7,00,000 troopers, which is at least three times higher than at the time of America’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.’

 

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