India’s crackdown against militants creates questions about human rights

India’s crackdown against militants creates questions about human rights

 

In order to deal with several militant insurgencies in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as other problems in the northeastern region of the country, India passed the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) several years back.  This law, which is supposed to facilitate the Indian government’s struggle against rogue factions, uses several questionable tactics which have since been labeled as authoritarian and anti-democratic.

AFSPA allows armed personnel to take virtually any action they feel necessary in order to enforce peace in the affected regions.  They may kill, arrest or force any person to submit to a search without any justification.  This effectively removes all rights from citizens in these areas and makes no allowance for them to complain, even when the death of innocents is involved.  Furthermore, there is no punishment for the soldiers, even if they are in the wrong.

The law has resulted in several killings in the insurgent regions and many reports of executions without justification.  Since 2010, more than 100 people are known to have been killed in Kashmir alone while trying to actively protest AFSPA.

International response has been mostly negative.  Most are telling India that they need to repeal the act and many are demanding a complete withdrawal from the state of Kashmir.  The United Nations has stepped forward and launched an investigation into the reports of human rights abuses and plan on submitting their findings to the Human Rights Council, though not until next year.

India’s response has been to deny any violation of human rights as well as to voice their support for the act as a necessity to remove insurgents from the country.  Recently, however, the pressure from the UN has prompted the Indian government to make a statement that they will be addressing amendments to AFSPA which will deal with the acquisition of arrest warrants, put a halt to wanton killings and set up a system to deal with the complaints that are being leveled against military personnel.  Whether this is just a stalling tactic remains to be seen, though if India can not put an end to the insurgencies, they will have to deal with the matter sooner or later.