Torture Chambers of Kashmir

Amidst sobs and tears, hundreds of former militants and the members of newly formed political party, Jammu Kashmir Peoples Rights Movement (JKPRM) on Friday narrated their days of torture at the hands of troopers in various detention centres. In a seminar organized by JKPRM here, members of the party gave a detailed account of their experience in the “torture chambers.”

“I was subjected to third degree torture, troopers inserted an iron rod into my rectum, while they gave me electric shocks on the head which left me unconscious for several days,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, an erstwhile militant and a member of JKPRM. “And after I opened my eyes, I found myself surrounded by four troopers who placed a roller on my legs. And then, all of them got over me on the roller,” he recounted. Calling the room as “Kashmir’s Abu Ghraib” where more than 150 detainees were packed, Ahmad said it had a capacity of only 30 people, but they were made to sleep, eat and pee in that room only. Another tortured, Sirajuudin, while describing his woes said that he was immediately beaten up by troopers after his arrest along with two children whom the army had detained. “I was stripped, and hanged upside down in a detention centre for days,” he said. “I remember when they gave me shocks on my private part, that was dreadful,” he added. Sirajuudin said that the detainees in the Kotbalwal jail of Jammu were several times forced to eat from a big plastic bucket—which according to him was also used for draining dirty water from the rooms. “The police there would force us to clean toilets with our hands,” he said. He said the inmates were frequently beaten under the sun with the bamboo batons and were forced to make frog leaps,” he said. Hussain, still ailing, had come from the hospital to share his “horrible” days in the several torture centres of the valley. He said, “Those were horrible days, I remember. One of the inmates Habibullah was tortured to death. I still remember his cries and tears before he was silenced forever. Toilet water was used to clean our food plates, only 3 litre drinking water was given to 70 inmates for 24 hours.” Arrested in 1988 and again in 1993, Hussain said one of the jailers, Shakti, later apologized to have brutally killed Habibullah when he lost eyesight days after slaying him. Shabir Ahmad, a released militant said that it took him 12 years to speak about his torture tale before anyone. “Finally the day has come when people are ready to listen people like me,” he said, “I was a released militant but the troopers arrested me along with my wife and a newly born baby in Sheeri, Baramulla. They dragged me into their camp and my wife was told to stay on roadside, followed by the torture,” Shabir said. “They roped me with a tree and for four days they would stretch my legs-180,” he said. “I swear by Allah, I tried to end my life with a broken glass bottle inside one of the interrogation chamber, but they stopped me after I tried to penetrate my abdomen.” Displaying his fingers, he said his finger nails were pulled out several times with the pliers, each finger one day. Recalling how his friend Qayoom was killed, he said, “Qayoom was arrested and later dragged in a school building where he was forced to sit on an anti-tank mine. They pushed him on the mine and blasted it, we could see flesh and bones scattering everywhere, I still remember that bloody school ground,” he wept and left the dais. Then came the turn of Yasin Malik, namesake of the current JKLF chairman. He said he had come to Srinagar from Baramulla to submit his engineering form. “I was arrested in a cordon and I was later shifted to the Tatoo ground in Batamaloo, where the troopers stripped me and beat me up.” He said he was several times asked to accept that he was an ISI agent, denying, he would be beaten and hanged upside down. “An army major kicked me 80 times on the left knee and 200 times on the right knee with his boots. I would crawl with hands for several months after my release,” he added. All the tortured vowed to take the ongoing movement to its logical end. They also sought support from the civil societies and the international community to take strong notice of the “grave” human rights violation at the hands of troopers. Chairman of JKPRM and erstwhile Divisional Commander of Muslim Janbaaz Force, Abdul Qadeer, said that they had resorted to guns to take the Kashmir issue from cold storage to international attention. “Guns were the things of bygone era to internationalize the issue, now we will fight for our birth right with our voices,” he said, adding, “These are the final days of those traitors who took political mileage out of our sufferings.” The seminar was also attended by the President Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies ( JKCCS) Parviaz Imroz, noted human right activists and journalist, Gautam Navlakha, Anthropologist, Professor California institute of Integral studies, Agna Chatterji, and Editor of Daily Etalaat Zahir-ud-Din. All the guests pledged continual support to the new party and asked the members to document their history and file the cases collectively in the court. They said, India has been repeatedly violating several Geneva conventions and International Humanitarian Laws by committing “heinous crimes” in the valley and the international community should take strong steps to stop Indian troops. The speakers said that India has institutionalized torture and the Interrogation centers may be better called as “Torture Chambers”. By BABA UMAR RISING KASHMIR