Behind the Kashmir Conflict

Abuses by Indian Security Forces and Militant Groups Continue


The dramatic escalation in May 1999 of cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan, and fighting between Indian troops and militants who have crossed over from Pakistan, have focused international attention on the security implications of the conflict. But the pattern of systematic human rights violations by all parties in Kashmir has been a critical factor in fueling the conflict that is often overlooked. If those violations had been seriously addressed at any time during the last ten years, the risk of a military confrontation between India and Pakistan might have been reduced.


This report documents human rights abuses in Indian-controlled Kashmir by both Indian security forces and Muslim militants, many of them believed to be Pakistani-trained, who have been fighting for independence. Focusing on the border areas in southern Kashmir that have emerged as important new areas of conflict since 1996, it also documents abuses that took place in the Kashmir valley in late 1998, based on extensive interviews with residents and government officials conducted during a mission in October 1998. Our goal is to provide some insight into the nature of the conflict, the way its geographic focus has shifted since 1996, the increasingly communal aspects of the longstanding political and territorial dispute, and measures that all parties to the conflict should take to prevent further abuses. The escalation in fighting has made it all the more urgent that the international community ensure these measures are taken.

The Kashmir conflict not only continues to raise the spectre of war between India and Pakistan, but it also continues to produce serious human rights violations: summary executions, rape, and torture by both sides. In their effort to curb support for pro-independence militants, Indian security forces have resorted to arbitrary arrest and collective punishments of entire neighborhoods, tactics which have only led to further disaffection from India. The militants have kidnapped and killed civil servants and suspected informers. These actions, together with the fact that many of the militants are crossing into India from Pakistan, have reinforced India's determination to eliminate the security threat by any means necessary. Indeed, the Indian air strikes that began in May were in response to the incursion from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir of a large contingent of militant forces into mountainous areas north of Kargil and Dras.


That incursion is part of the same pattern of militant activity documented in this report. Since 1996, as Indian forces have gained the upper hand in the major towns and villages of the Kashmir valley, militant groups have concentrated their efforts on occupying strategic areas along Kashmir's far northern and southern borders, including the districts of Rajouri, Punch, and Doda. In the early years of the conflict, the militants were largely from the Kashmir valley. With support from Pakistan, they were fighting for independence from India and some for accession to Pakistan. Although militant groups in Kashmir continue to draw recruits from among the local population, since 1996 the militant groups in these border areas have been predominantly Pakistani Kashmiris who support the independence struggle, or Pakistanis from elsewhere in the country who have been drawn to the conflict for ideological reasons. The groups often include Afghans and other foreign fighters who have no local base, although they may recruit local Kashmiri men to join them. The fact that a large contingent of these forces have entrenched in the high mountains near the towns of Kargil and Dras on the Indian side of the cease-fire line, known as the Line of Control, represents a major escalation in the conflict.

The reasons for the geographic shift from the Kashmir valley to the border areas lie in the changing military dimensions of the conflict. Indian forces have decimated the ranks of the militant groups operating inside Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, a militant organization that was reputed to command the most popular support among Kashmiris, abandoned the military struggle in 1994. The remaining groups, most of which have close ties to Pakistan, have been largely driven to the more remote mountain areas of Doda and other southern districts from whose rugged terrain they launch attacks on Indian security forces and local civilians. Between 1997 and mid-1999, these groups have massacred more than 300 civilians. Several of those incidents are documented in this report. Although no organization has claimed responsibility for any of those massacres, two militant groups, Harakat-ul Ansar and Lashgar-i Toiba, are known to operate in the area and both include non-Kashmiris in their ranks. Although so-called foreigners operating in Kashmir outside of the Kargil region number at most a few hundred, they represent a dangerous development in the conflict as they have no accountability to the local population and engage in acts of extreme violence with little regard for the outrage such attacks elicit from Hindu and Muslim Kashmiris alike.

The Indian army has retaliated by conducting cordon-and-search operations in Muslim neighborhoods throughout these districts, detaining young men, assaulting other family members and summarily executing suspected militants. The brutal tactics employed resemble those used in the early 1990s in the Kashmir valley-- indiscriminate shootings and assaults, rape, and arson--that provoked widespread anger among the local population. While such wholesale attacks on civilians have decreased in the valley as Indian forces have consolidated their hold there, they have increased in the southern border districts where they are perceived by the local population as an attempt by Indian forces to punish the Muslim community at large. Aggravating the situation, the army has recruited ex-servicemen, who for historical reasons are almost exclusively Hindu, to serve in Village Defence Committees (VDCs) that assist the army in military operations. In Doda and the border districts, where the population is nearly evenly divided between Hindus and Muslims, there is growing concern that tensions between the two communities might ignite a wider communal conflict.

Elsewhere in Kashmir, most of the militant groups have lost considerable ground militarily, their ranks diminished through infiltration and assassination by "countermilitant" militias made up of former guerrillas and by the government's long policy of summarily executing captured guerrillas. Thus Srinagar and other towns in the valley now seldom see genuine military engagements between militants and state forces. Militant operations in the cities are generally limited to hit-and-run grenade or sniper attacks and assassinations of political leaders, civil servants and suspected informers.

Despite the election in September 1996 of a civilian government in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and Indian government claims that "normalcy" has returned there, abuses by the army, federal paramilitary forces and a newly constituted police force are rife. Indian forces also continue to arm and train countermilitant militias to assassinate suspected militant activists and intimidate local residents. Although some militant leaders command popular support, extortion and other abuses by the militant groups and their failure to prevail against the Indian forces have left the population embittered. At the same time, ongoing brutality and repression by Indian troops continues to fuel popular discontent and fear. India may have largely crushed its armed opposition in Srinagar and other cities in the Kashmir valley, but it has won little support from the Kashmiris.

As they have gained greater control of the cities, Indian forces and the countermilitants have fostered a climate of repression. Although government troops who no longer fear an ambush are less trigger-happy than was the case in the early 1990s when retaliatory shootings of civilians in crowded urban areas and villages were common, targeted executions continue. Detentions and "disappearances" have left residents fearful of talking to international human rights organizations. Little human rights documentation is done because human rights activists and lawyers have been killed or threatened. Doctors who have treated torture victims have also been threatened and spoke to Human Rights Watch only when assured strict confidentiality.

Custodial killings -- the summary execution of detainees -- remain a central component of the Indian government's counterinsurgency strategy. While the difficulties associated with documentation make it impossible to state accurately the number of such killings, human rights groups in the state and elsewhere in India estimate that such summary executions number in the thousands. In this report, Human Rights Watch documents nine that occurred in 1998 and one that occurred in 1997. The killings continue because they have the sanction of senior Indian officials who justify them on the grounds that there is no other way to counter a serious "terrorist" threat. Since the insurgency erupted in Kashmir in 1989, there has been no effort on the part of the government to reduce the incidence of custodial killing.

"Disappearances" of detainees also remain a serious problem. Not only has the practice continued, but there has been no accountability for hundreds of cases of "disappearances" that have taken place since 1990. The Kashmir Monitor, a human rights group based in Srinagar, has documented 300 cases of "disappearances" and claims that the actual number is much higher. An association of the parents of the "disappeared," one of the few human rights groups functioning in the state, has been unable to persuade the government to provide information about their missing sons. During its mission, Human Rights Watch documented thirteen cases of "disappearances": two from 1998, nine from 1997, one from 1996 and one from 1995.

The Indian security forces also engage in brutal forms of torture which likewise have the sanction of senior officials. The latter privately justify the practice on the grounds that there is no other way to obtain information from a suspect. In fact, torture is also routinely used to punish suspected militants and their supporters and to extort money from their families. Human Rights Watch documented three cases of torture in this report, one of which took place in October 1998, the other two of which describe a series of detentions in which torture occurred from 1996 until 1998. In one case, two detainees who confessed to having weapons after undergoing severe torture were later berated by an army officer for lying and then released. Human Rights Watch staff also interviewed doctors who had treated former detainees who had been tortured. Methods of torture include severe beatings with truncheons, rolling a heavy log on the legs, hanging the detainee upside down, use of electric shocks, immersion in water while being suspended upside down, and the insertion of an iron rod on which chili paste has been applied into the rectum. Extensive beatings and use of the roller frequently lead to renal damage or failure; being suspended for prolonged periods upside down can lead to nerve damage and paralysis of the limbs.

Hospitals in Srinagar have registered more than 180 patients with torture-induced renal problems since 1994, some one hundred of which were admitted since 1996. These figures only include those cases serious enough to require treatment in the hospital. Of the 180 cases, six died of renal failure. Some of the survivors have suffered permanent damage.

Indian security forces have raped women in Kashmir during search operations, particularly in remote areas outside of major cities and towns. The difficulties inherent in documenting such attacks on women are many. The victims are unlikely to seek medical attention unless their injuries are severe and are reluctant to report their assaults because of the shame and stigma that they may bear as a result. Nonetheless, Human Rights Watch documented one case of rape by the Indian army in Doda and received consistent reports of such abuse from elsewhere in Doda and from the border areas of Punch and Rajouri. Significantly, army authorities have demonstrated some concern about rape and have initiated a number of courts-martial of soldiers for rape. However, many reports of rape, particularly by federal or local police forces, are never investigated.

Prosecutions of security personnel responsible for abuses are rare. The State Human Rights Commission, which is mandated to investigate complaints of human rights violations and make non-binding recommendations to the government, began its work in early 1998 and by November of that year had undertaken investigations in some 200 cases. The commission does not take up cases pending before the High Court. In addition, the commission's work is severely hampered by the fact that it cannot directly investigate abuses carried out by the army or other federal forces. These forces conduct their own investigations, the results of which are not made public. Although government officials claim that disciplinary measures have been taken against some security personnel, criminal prosecutions do not take place.

This report is based on a mission to Indian-controlled Kashmir in October 1998. In the course of that mission Human Rights Watch visited Srinagar, Pampore, Uri, Jammu and Doda. We conducted more than fifty interviews with doctors, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and other residents of Kashmir. We interviewed leading members of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference, the political umbrella organization of the militant organizations. Although India does not officially permit international human rights organizations to conduct investigations, Human Rights Watch staff met with representatives of the state government, including Chief Secretary Ashok Jaitley, Justice Kuchay and other members of the State Human Rights Commission, and Superintendent of Police in Doda Munir Khan. We also interviewed leading advocates for the displaced Kashmir Hindus in Jammu, and a local leader of one of the most prominent countermilitant organizations.


Human Rights Watch makes the following recommendations for action to be taken by the government of Indiathe militant forces in Kashmir, the government of Pakistan, and the international community to address the human rights crisis in Kashmir.


To the Government of India

The government of India should immediately initiate an impartial investigation into reports that the Eighth Rashtriya Rifles Battalion in Doda has been responsible for summary executions, "disappearances," rape, and other assaults on villagers. Other army units and security personnel named in other incidents of abuse should also be investigated and members found responsible for abuse prosecuted and punished.

The State Human Rights Commission should immediately establish branch offices in Doda, Rajouri and Punch to initiate inquiries into allegations of abuse, and provide support to local human rights organizations operating there. The commission should be empowered to investigate even those cases under review by the court.

Village defense committees (VDCs) should not be recruited along communal lines; existing VDCs that are communally based should be disbanded. All such groups should immediately be disarmed unless they are brought within the chain of command of the regular military. Members of VDCs responsible for extrajudicial killings, assaults, and other abuses should be prosecuted. Members of the security forces who have recruited VDC members for forced labor should be prosecuted.

Major Avtar Singh of the 35th Rashtriya Rifles should be apprehended immediately and prosecuted for the March 1996 murder of human rights lawyer and JKLF member Jalil Andrabi.

The Indian government should invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance to Kashmir and, in particular, to the Doda region to look into reports that abuses by militant groups and by the Indian army and village defense committees are contributing to a rise in communal tension. It should also permit the relevant United Nations special rapporteurs and working groups to conduct investigations.

The government of India should ensure that all reports of extrajudicial executions, "disappearances," deaths in custody, torture, and rape by security forces and unofficial paramilitary forces in Kashmir are investigated promptly by a judicial authority empowered to subpoena security force officers and official registers and other documents. Security personnel, including police, army, and paramilitary, responsible for these abuses should be prosecuted in civilian courts. Only with such trials and appropriate punishments will these forces receive the clear, unequivocal message that human rights violations are not condoned by their superiors. Those found guilty of abuse should be punished regardless of rank. The punishments should be at least as severe as those specified under civilian law. The results of these investigations and the punishments should be made public as a means of giving the people of Kashmir a reason to believe in the government's commitment to justice and the rule of law. Orders should be given immediately that police are to register all reports of abuse; anyone in the security forces found to have issued contrary instructions and any member of the police who has refused to register cases should be disciplined to the full extent of the law.

The government of India should disarm and disband all state-sponsored militias not established and regulated by law and prosecute members of such groups who have been responsible for extrajudicial killings, "disappearances," assaults, and other abuses. The government of India should establish a civilian review board to oversee any rehabilitation program for surrendered militants. This review board should have access to records on surrendered weapons and should review vocational training programs to ensure that the former militants are not compelled to serve in state paramilitary forces not established and regulated by law, or induced to take part in security operations that violate international human rights and humanitarian law.

Although the government of India has promised since 1993 to establish a centralized register of detainees accessible to lawyers and family members, this has never happened. In addition, security personnel continue to defy court orders to produce detainees in court. Both of these factors have increased the likelihood of "disappearances." The government of India should take stern and swift action against all officers who have obstructed or ignored judicial orders to produce detainees. All places of detention should be made known to the court and be subject to regular inspection by a magistrate. In addition, the security agencies should require that arresting officers provide signed receipts for all detainees to family members, village elders, or persons of similar status. The receipt would be retrieved when the person is released.

In previous reports, Human Rights Watch has urged the government of India to provide police training, perhaps after consultation with international experts, on gathering adequate evidence for rape prosecutions. Explicit prohibitions against rape should be included in training for all enlisted men and officers in the police, paramilitary forces, and military as a way of sending a clear signal that rape is not tolerated by the state. Medical workers who have examined and treated rape victims should be protected from abuse. Medical facilities, including private licensed physicians, should be encouraged to give testimony and introduce physical evidence in court with regard to rape and other forms of sexual and physical abuse.

State authorities and the headquarters of the army and paramilitary operations in Kashmir should issue public statements affirming the security of human rights defenders. The statements should include explicit guarantees for the security of human rights monitors to investigate incidents of abuse, record the statements of witnesses, publicize their reports, and petition the courts.

To the Militant Organizations

Militant groups should immediately stop all attacks on civilians, including kidnappings and assassinations. Militant groups should abide by human rights norms and the provisions of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions which prohibit hostage-taking, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and executions.

Militant groups should desist from using anti-personnel landmines.

To the Government of Pakistan

The government of Pakistan should end all support for abusive militant organizations in Kashmir. It should not provide indiscriminate weapons, such as landmines, to such groups.

To the United Nations

The General Assembly should condemn abuses by both Indian security forces and militants in Kashmir and urge India to permit relevant U.N. working groups and special rapporteurs to visit Kashmir.

The High Commissioner on Human Rights should visit Kashmir and conduct an investigation into abuses by all parties to the conflict. Her findings and recommendations should be reported to the Security Council and the General Assembly and should be made publicly available.

To the International Community

France, Germany, Russia, the U.K., the U.S., and India's other trading partners should suspend all military aid and sales and all programs of military cooperation with India, including joint exercises, until India provides greater accountability on cases of "disappearances," torture, and summary killings by its forces in Kashmir and disarms all state-sponsored paramilitary groups operating in Kashmir.

At the annual World Bank-sponsored donors meeting on India, participant countries should publicly state that continued economic support for India should not been seen as support for the Indian government's human rights policies. In the statement, and in private and public meetings with Indian government officials, members of the donor group should raise concerns about deteriorating conditions in Doda and other border districts and press India to allow greater access to these areas and other parts of Kashmir to international organizations. They should press India to invite the U.N. special rapporteurs and the working groups to visit Kashmir. They should also raise concerns about attacks on human rights defenders in Kashmir.

The diplomatic staff of India's allies and trading partners should make a point of visiting areas of the state outside the Kashmir valley, particularly Doda, Rajouri and Punch, and ensure that their reports reflect current human rights conditions in these areas.

The international community should condemn Pakistan's support for abusive militant groups operating in Kashmir and make any future arms sales or military cooperation agreements contingent on an end to Pakistan's support for abusive militant groups.


Kashmir has been at the heart of a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan since the two nations gained their independence in 1947. Both claim Kashmir. In 1948 the then-ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, who was holding out for independence, acceded to India on condition that the state retain autonomy in all matters except defense, currency and foreign affairs. The accession was provoked by the invasion of Pakistani raiders and an uprising of villagers in the western part of the state. Fighting between India and Pakistan ended with U.N. intervention; since 1948 the cease-fire line has been monitored by the U.N. Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). The far northern and western areas of the state are under Pakistan's control; the Kashmir valley, Jammu, and Ladakh are under India's control. U.N. resolutions calling for a plebiscite to determine the final status of the territory have been rejected by India, which claims that because Kashmiris have voted in national elections in India, there is no need for a plebiscite. Pakistan maintains that a plebiscite should be held. Several of the militant groups in Kashmir have also called for a plebiscite but argue that an independent Kashmir should be an option. On July 2, 1972, India and Pakistan signed the Simla Accord, under which both countries agreed to respect the cease-fire line, known as the Line of Control, and to resolve differences over Kashmir "by peaceful means" through negotiation. The Simla Accord left the "final settlement" of the Kashmir question to be resolved at an unspecified future date. Since then, the Simla Accord has been the touchstone of all bilateral discussions of the Kashmir issue, even though the accord itself left the issue unresolved.


India's efforts to manipulate elections in Kashmir and suppress dissent have marked Kashmir's history since 1948, but it was not until 1986 that discontent within the state found wider popular support. In that year the state's ruling National Conference (NC) party, widely accused of corruption, struck a deal with India's Congress Party administration that many in Kashmir saw as a betrayal of Kashmir's autonomy. A new party, the Muslim United Front (MUF), attracted the support of a broad range of Kashmiris, including pro-independence activists, disenchanted Kashmiri youth and the pro-Pakistan Jama'at-i Islami, an Islamic political organization, and appeared poised to do well in state elections in 1987. Blatant rigging assured a National Conference victory, which was followed by the arrests of hundreds of MUF leaders and supporters. In the aftermath, young MUF supporters swelled the ranks of agrowing number of militant groups who increasingly crossed over to Pakistan for arms and training. The major militant organizations were divided between those advocating an independent Kashmir and those supporting accession to Pakistan. In the late 1980s, the groups began assassinating NC leaders and engaging in other acts of violence. Some groups also targeted Hindu families, and a slow exodus of Hindus from the valley began.

After the elections, militants of the JKLF and other groups stepped up their attacks on the government, detonating bombs at government buildings, buses, and the houses of present and former state officials, and enforcing a state-wide boycott of the November 1989 national parliamentary elections. One month later, JKLF militants abducted the daughter of Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, then freed her when the government gave in to demands for the release of five detained militants. That event, together with a surge in popular protest against the state and central governments, led the central government to launch a massive crackdown on the militants.

On January 19, 1990, the central government imposed direct rule on the state. From the outset, the Indian government's campaign against the militants was marked by widespread human rights violations, including the shooting of unarmed demonstrators, civilian massacres, and summary executions of detainees. Militant groups stepped up their attacks, murdering and threatening Hindu residents, carrying out kidnappings and assassinations of government officials, civil servants, and suspected informers, and engaging in sabotage and bombings. With the encouragement and assistance of the government, some 100,000 Hindu Kashmiris, known as "Pandits," fled the valley. By May 1990, rising tension between Pakistan and India following the escalation of the conflict in Kashmir raised fears of another war between the two countries.

In late 1993, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an umbrella organization of the leaders of all the political and militant organizations fighting for independence, was founded to act as the political voice of the independence movement. However, rivalries within the APHC have limited its effectiveness. Charges of corruption have also tainted some APHC leaders.1

In the mid-1990s, Indian security forces began arming and training local auxiliary forces made up of surrendered or captured militants to assist in counterinsurgency operations. These state-sponsored paramilitary groups have committed serious human rights abuses, and human rights defenders and journalists have been among the principal victims.

In May 1996, parliamentary elections were held in the state for the first time since 1989. Militant leaders called for a boycott, however, and there were widespread reports that security forces had forced some voters to go to the polls. During state assembly elections in September of that year as well, residents-particularly those living in Srinagar and other cities-also complained that the security forces had tried to counter a militant boycott by forcing some people to go to the polls. However, a large number appeared to have voted voluntarily. Following the election, the National Conference party formed the first state government since 1990. Farooq Abdullah, who together with leaders from the Congress Party had been responsible for rigging state elections in 1987, again became chief minister.

On May 11 and 13, 1998, India tested five nuclear devices, and three weeks later, Pakistan responded in kind. The tests ignited a firestorm of criticism around the world and triggered sanctions by both countries' donors and trading partners. In the months following the tests, an upsurge in shelling and shooting by Indian and Pakistani troops stationed along the cease-fire line in Kashmir left over one hundred civilians dead. Following a the Indian prime minister's historic bus trip from New Delhi to the Pakistan border in February 1999, the prime ministers of both countries signed the Lahore Declaration in which they vowed, among other things, to renew talks on Kashmir and to alert each other of further arms tests. Following such a warning, on April 11,1999, India test-fired its long-range Agni missile, and on April 14 and 15, Pakistan did the same with its long-range Gauri and medium-range Shaheenmissiles. India conducted another ballistic missile test on April 16; the exchange again raised international concern about the prospects for an arms race on the subcontinent.

Rising tensions in the region have made clear that both India and Pakistan have legitimate security concerns related to Kashmir. But these concerns justify neither the abuses committed by Indian military and paramilitary forces nor Pakistan's support for fighters who have also committed serious human rights violations.

Parties to the Conflict

As of 1999, the major militant organizations fighting in Kashmir included the Hizb-ul Mujahidin, Harakat-ul Ansar and Lashgar-i Toiba. The latter two, in particular, are reported to include a large number of non-Kashmiris. Most of these groups support accession to Pakistan. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), the organization that spearheaded the movement for an independent Kashmir, declared a cease-fire in 1994. All groups have reportedly received arms and training from Pakistan. The weapons they have used include AK-47 and AK-56 assault rifles, light machine guns, revolvers, and landmines. The militants are also reported to have sophisticated night-vision and wireless communication equipment. Officially, the Pakistani government has denied involvement in arming and training Kashmiri militants, but the claim is generally not considered credible.

Central government forces operating in Kashmir include the Indian Army and India's federal security forces, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and the Border Security Force (BSF). The army's role in the conflict expanded in 1993 with the introduction of the Rashtriya Rifles, an elite army unit created specifically for counterinsurgency operations in Kashmir. The Rashtriya Rifles have been the main force in charge of counterinsurgency operations in Doda, Rajouri and Punch. As of June 1999, some 400,000 army troops and other federal security forces were deployed in the valley, including those positioned along the Line of Control.2

In May 1999 India deployed thousands of additional troops to the Kargil region. The local Jammu and Kashmir policemen are generally not involved in counterinsurgency operations, largely because they are believed to be sympathetic to the insurgency.3 However, in 1995 the Special Task Force (STF) and the Special Operations Group (SOG), counterinsurgency divisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Police made up of non-Muslim non-Kashmiri recruits, including some former militants, were formed apparently to create the impression that the counterinsurgency effort had local support. These police forces frequently operate jointly with the Rashtriya Rifles.

Since at least early 1995 Indian security forces have armed and trained local auxiliary forces made up of surrendered or captured militants to assist in counterinsurgency operations. These forces, who function outside of the normal command structure of the Indian army and other security forces, nevertheless are considered state agents under international law. These groups participate in joint patrols, receive and carry out orders given by security officers, and operate in full view of army and security force bunkers and camps. Some members of these groups are even housed in military compounds. They include Ikhwan-ul Muslimoon and Muslim Mujahidin.

1 See Harinder Baweja, "New Disenchantment," India Today (Delhi), December 31, 1995.

2 Observers interviewed by Human Rights Watch estimated the number to be about 400,000. Interviews by Human Rights Watch, June 15 and 21, 1999. According to a report in Jane's Intelligence Review, the number may be as high as 600,000; Rohan, Gunaratna, "Will Kashmir Trigger the Bomb?," Jane's Intelligence Review, (London) August 1, 1998. Sources at the Indian embassy in Washington D.C. interviewed by Human Rights Watch in June 1999 put the number at 210,000.

3 In fact, in April 1993 most of the force went on strike to protest the death in custody of a constable, Riaz Ahmed. After security forces stormed the police headquarters, some 1,000 of the police were disarmed and interrogated.


This report was written by Patricia Gossman, senior researcher with the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. It is based on research undertaken in Kashmir by a consultant to Human Rights Watch in October 1998. The report was edited by Sidney Jones, executive director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, Dinah PoKempner, deputy counsel for Human Rights Watch, and Cynthia Brown, program director for Human Rights Watch. Tom Kellogg and Liz Weiss, associates for the Asia Division, prepared the final manuscript.

We are very grateful to all those in Kashmir who spoke with us and who assisted us in interviewing individuals and families and gathering documentation for this report, some of whom undertook risks to themselves in order to do so.

Legacy Link
In this report, Human Rights Watch charges that human rights violations by all parties in Kashmir have been a critical factor behind the current conflict. The report says that if those violations had been seriously addressed at any time over thelast ten years, the risk of amilitary confrontation between India and Pakistan might have been reduced. The escalation in fighting has made it urgent that the international community put pressure on India to end widespread human rights violations by its security forces in Kashmir, and on Pakistan to end its support for abusive militant groups. The 44-page report, Behind the Conflict in Kashmir, focuses on the border areas in southern Kashmir where militant forces have been crossing over from Pakistan. The report documents several of the massacres of Hindu civilians carried out by these groups and their local counterparts, in which more than 300 civilians were killed between 1997 and mid-1999.
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