VI. Militant Abuses

“These people can kill anyone at any time. Earlier, the militants were our own people, so if there was some problem, we could go and sort it out with the family or send a message. Now, who knows who they are or what they want…. I dare not complain or my other sons will die too.”
—Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of a man killed by militants461

As India and Pakistan prepared to roll out a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad on April 7, 2005, allowing Kashmiri families separated for nearly six decades by the Line of Control to meet with each other, Indian troops lined the road to the border.462 The irony was evident. To protect Kashmiris from militants ostensibly fighting on their behalf, it was the abusive Indian army that was deployed along the road––a road whose reopening was welcomed by ordinary Kashmiris. It was Indian security forces who walked the entire stretch of the route, looking for mines planted by militants, keeping their eyes and ears open to prevent an ambush. In Srinagar, as an extra security measure, it was police officers, and not the passengers themselves, who lined up to pick up and then pass out tickets for that first bus journey.

Kashmiris had responded with enthusiasm to the bus and there was a rush to reserve seats.463 However, in a statement, armed groups threatened to derail the proposal, warning that the passengers entering the bus would be entering their “coffin.”464 A statement issued in the name of four little known groups was faxed to journalists in Jammu and Kashmir.465 The name of each passenger who had reserved a seat on the bus was included in the statement, and some of them received threatening telephone calls. A second statement issued on April 2, 2005, warned:

We are telling the people once more not to take a pleasure ride on a bus that will be traveling on the bodies of thousands of martyrs who have died for the cause of Kashmir. Don’t invite death.466

On April 6, 2005, a day before the bus service was due to start, militants attacked the Tourist Reception Center in Srinagar, where the passengers had been put up.  Six persons were injured and one of the gunmen killed, and part of the reception center burned down.467

In defiance of the threats from the militants, the passengers––and the governments—went ahead with the journey. Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control lined the streets, waving and greeting the passengers.468 Both the Indian and Pakistani governments, as well as many in the media, criticized the threats and the attack on the tourist center. According to M.J. Akbar, a Kashmir expert and editor of the Asian Age:

Those who believed that terrorism would succeed clearly did not think through the consequences. Their guns were trained on ordinary Kashmiris, the very people they were seeking to “liberate.”469

From the earliest years of the conflict, militant organizations fighting for Jammu and Kashmir’s independence or accession to Pakistan have committed grave human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.  Although independent figures are not available, militant attacks are believed to have resulted in the loss of thousands of civilian lives.470

In the early years of the conflict, many Kashmiris refused to believe that the militants were capable of human rights abuses. That has changed. During our research, villagers often provided accounts of both militant abuse and abuses by government troops. Even Kashmiri leaders, who for a long time refused to acknowledge abuses by people they call “freedom fighters,” are finally admitting to violations by the armed groups. Said Abdul Ghani Bhat, a leader of one faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, now admits that his brother was killed by a militant group and not by security forces as he had claimed for years:

My message to these people is that when you are fighting for a cause that you believe is noble, you cannot do such ignoble things. It does not serve the cause.471

Armed opposition groups, as well as government forces, are obliged to abide by international humanitarian law.  While attacks by armed groups on military targets violate domestic law, they are normally not violations of international law.  Prohibited are attacks against civilians and civilian objects, attacks that do not discriminate between military targets and civilians, and attacks on military targets that cause disproportionate loss of civilian life.  Killings of government officials, politicians, and civilians assisting the authorities, and who are not directly participating in the hostilities, are thus unlawful.  Captured combatants and detained civilians must be treated humanely at all times.

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Militants have been responsible for a long string of massacres, attacks on minority Hindus and Sikhs, bombings, killings and attacks on schools. The most recent massacre was in May 2006, when thirty-five Hindus were killed in remote hamlets of Doda and Udhampur districts; police blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba.472

Despite their scale and frequency, abuses by militants in Jammu and Kashmir are seldom carefully documented. One reason for this is that militant groups are not state actors. Even the State Human Rights Commission says that it concentrates on abuses by state agencies.473 Another reason is that Pakistan seems beyond the reach of Kashmiri NGOs and victim groups.

Another explanation is that within Jammu and Kashmir there is greater political sympathy for the militants’ cause than for the government. Violations by armed groups are rarely opposed as vociferously as those committed by Indian security forces.

But a key reason for the lack of attention is less widely discussed: people are afraid that they too will be targeted. In interviews with Human Rights Watch, ordinary Kashmiris, as well as journalists and human rights defenders, said that there was deep fear in Jammu and Kashmir of the militants. Militant abuses have been brutal, plentiful, and continuous against anyone seen to be opposed to their agenda. To give one example, in July 2004 militants barged into the home of fifty-five-year-old Mohammed Shafi and decapitated him because they thought he was a police informer. They also beheaded his twenty-two-year-old son and fifteen-year-old daughter.474 In August 2004, Ghulam Hussain, his two sons and a daughter were shot dead. According to police, militants had targeted the family because a third son, who was not at home during the attack, was with the state police.475

Kashmiris who help the armed forces, particularly special police officers (SPOs)476 and members of Village Defense Committees (VDCs),477 have been particularly targeted. On August 13, 2005, alleged militants killed five people and wounded nine others when they attacked families of VDC members.478  On August 9, 2005, the body of SPO Zubai Ahmad was found hanging from a tree near his home after he had been abducted.479 On April 25, 2004, alleged militants beheaded the wife and eight-year-old daughter of SPO Ghulam Hassan Qureshi in Baramulla.480

As militant groups lost ground to security forces, they have increasingly made indiscriminate use of bombs, grenades, landmines, and other explosive devices, with predictable civilian casualties.  According to Landmine Monitor, at least five militant groups have used such devices.481 For instance, on November 3, 2005, six people including four civilians were killed, and over twenty injured, in a car bomb explosion by the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group in Srinagar.482  Two weeks later, a grenade attack during a public meeting of PDP leader Ghulam Hassan Mir in Baramulla killed four people.483 In an effort to disrupt a conflict resolution conference organized by Prime Minister Singh in May 2006, militants launched a number of grenade attacks, injuring twenty-three, most of them civilians.484 On May 22, 2006, two militants opened fire at a Congress party rally in Srinagar, killing six, including three civilians, and injuring thirty-five; the militants were also killed. Two militant groups, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Al Mansoorian, claimed responsibility.485

Indian paramilitary soldiers check the ID of local Kashmiri men trying to gain access to their offices the day after an attack by suspected Pakistani Islamist militants in the center of Srinagar's business district, July 30, 2005. Militants opened fire on nearby Indian security positions, stopping afternoon rush hour traffic and pinning down hundreds of soldiers and police. Five security men were killed and six other people were wounded, including local journalists caught in the crossfire. Two of the suspected militants were killed.
© 2005 Robert Nickelsberg

Some of the most egregious militant abuses have been carried out against members of Kashmir’s religious and ethnic minorities. This risks turning what has been primarily a political conflict into a religious one, something that many Kashmiri Muslims say they are worried about. Since the conflict began, there have been at least twenty massacres of minority groups in which militant gunmen have specifically targeted and then indiscriminately fired upon groups of unarmed civilians, usually in the middle of the night when they were asleep.486 A day after the October 2005 earthquake that killed over seventy thousand people, most of them in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, militants murdered ten Hindus in Rajouri district.487 In July 2005, five Hindu men were separated from their Muslim neighbors by alleged militants, and their throats slit.488 In 2003, after militants killed twenty-four Hindu pandits in Nadimarg near Srinagar, including eleven women and two children, many pandits fled to Hindu-majority Jammu.489 They joined the nearly sixty thousand Hindu families who have been internally displaced from Muslim majority areas by the threats and attacks of militant groups.490 Recent attempts by moderate separatist leaders to bring them back home have been opposed by militants, who issued a statement in July 2005 saying: “We impose a ban on the return of Kashmiri pandit migrants to the Valley.”491

Militants have targeted Kashmiri Muslims in large numbers because of their suspected support for the Indian government, or because they otherwise opposed the policies or practices of one or another of the militant groups. According to the Mumbai-based International Center for Peace Initiatives, nearly 85 percent of those killed by militants have been Kashmiri Muslims.492

Militants say they are in favor of self-determination, which can only be determined by a vote, yet they target individuals who participate in elections.  Alleged militants have killed at least 571 political party workers, election candidates, and elected leaders between 1989 and March 2005.493 Many more have come under attack. Officials conducting polls have also been cruelly treated.494 While militant groups seldom claim responsibility for such attacks, or do so under previously unknown names, most families of victims interviewed by Human Rights Watch placed responsibility with the militant groups. In some cases the victims had received anonymous warnings before they were killed.

Some armed groups have threatened and attacked journalists, broadly undermining free expression and the media in Kashmir. On February 9, 2006, activists from one faction of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) ransacked the Srinagar office of the daily Greater Kashmir and assaulted its employees, demanding that the group’s press releases be published.495 Journalists interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that they had received anonymous threatening phone calls from alleged militants demanding coverage of their statements or disagreeing with the description of events in their news reports.496 Often, they end up reporting unsubstantiated claims by so-called militant groups. As one journalist explained:

We can never be sure if these callers are legitimate, nor can we afford to ignore them because that would mean risking annoying the militant groups.497

Some women have also been punished for not adopting Islamic dress codes as demanded by some militant groups.498 Cable television operators, beauty salons, and Internet centers have been targeted for promoting “immorality.” In May 2006, cable operators were once again asked not to broadcast some channels.499 Recently, the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami has asked women to stop using mobile phones or to visit public parks.500

Militant groups and Pakistan’s role in the conflict

Although the rebellion in Jammu and Kashmir began as an indigenous movement, from the outset the armed response was actively supported and fueled by Pakistan.501

The earliest efforts to oppose Indian rule were started by the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front in 1988. It found enormous support in Jammu and Kashmir. The JKLF was responsible for some acts of violence, including the 1989 abduction of the daughter of Home Minister (later Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and attacks on some Hindu Kashmiri pandits, but it also led a largely peaceful people’s movement. As described in Section II, above, heavy-handed counter-insurgency efforts by the Indian government followed, with brutal crackdowns and firing on unarmed protesters. At the same time, hundreds of young Kashmiris began to cross the Line of Control for arms and training in Pakistan. One former militant described that time to Human Rights Watch:

I was about fifteen. Still in school. I decided to go too…. Why? Well, everyone was going and they would laugh if you did not. And also, everyone had a gun and it seemed important that I should have one too, just in case.502

When this man arrived at the training camp, he met his elder brother there, who forced him to go back:

He said that our mother would be very upset if both her sons disappeared like this. I did the training and brought the gun back. But I did not take part in any operations. Later, I was scared that the police would come looking for weapons, so I gave away the gun and went back to school.503

Like this man, in the early days the militants were overwhelmingly Kashmiris from the central valley, many from Srinagar.  Later, Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) began promoting another Kashmiri group, the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin which supported accession to Pakistan and was opposed to the JKLF’s pro-independence stance.

By the end of 1990, many members of the JKLF had begun to come under attack from the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin. But even if they joined organizations such as Hizb-ul Mujahideen, most Kashmiri militants were essentially secular nationalists seeking the liberation of Jammu and Kashmir from Indian rule. Kashmiri-speaking, they were also culturally and linguistically distinct from the peoples of Azad Kashmir. Most had little or no idea what Azad Kashmir was beyond a vague awareness that it was “Azad” (free) under Pakistani control and would be the logical base from which to take on the Indian state. At the time, Kashmiris held Pakistan in higher regard than India.504

In 1994, the JKLF, the engine of the Kashmiri nationalist movement, declared a unilateral ceasefire which has remained in effect ever since.  The JKLF no longer has any military capacity, but it has a large political presence and a great deal of public support, particularly in Srinagar.

The withdrawal of the JKLF from armed opposition opened the way for Pakistan-based groups to dominate the insurgency. The situation transformed dramatically in 1994 when the ISI organized thirteen groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir into the United Jihad Council (also known as the Muttahida Jihad Council). Apart from the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin, the other members included the Harkat-ul-Ansar, Jamiat-ul-Mujahedin, and Al-Jihad.  Kashmiris were largely replaced by Pakistani members of these groups.505 Many villagers from the higher forested areas in the mountains told Human Rights Watch that the armed gunmen operating in their areas were Urdu-speakers—that is, from Pakistan.506

By early 1999, there were only four or five groups within the United Jihad Council that were considered militarily effective, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahedin, Al Badr, and Harkat-ul-Mujahedin. In a special report by the United States Institute of Peace, a Kashmiri civil servant, Wajahat Habibullah, wrote:

[The insurgents] were financed, supplied, and trained by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), which was still relishing its success in assisting the Afghans in their resistance against the Soviet occupation…. The insurgency quickly dissipated into a struggle for domination among different insurgent groups, and what had begun as an ethnic conflict was given a religious color by the ISI, which promoted religiously oriented outfits.507

Islamabad had always denied that militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir were based in Pakistan.508 Since Pakistan joined the U.S.-led “war on terror” in 2001, however, the United Jihad Council has ceased to operate publicly. Several groups have changed their names and operate independently or through clandestine underground networks.509 Previously, militant groups would sometimes admit to killings. Since September 11, 2001, statements are now often issued in the names of previously unknown groups, bringing into question whether these groups genuinely exist or are just front organizations. For example, in Jammu and Kashmir a spokesman claiming to represent the “Save Kashmir Movement” has recently been calling journalists and faxing statements.510 Journalists and Indian intelligence agencies believe that the group is a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba. After a series of bomb blasts in New Delhi on October 29, 2005, that killed over fifty civilians, a little-known group called Islami Inqilabi Mahaz claimed responsibility. Police later arrested a Kashmiri man called Tariq Ahmed Dar in Srinagar, who is suspected to be a member of Lashkar-e-Toiba. In March 2006, a series of bomb blasts in Varanasi killed twenty people. While an unknown group called Lashkar-e-Qahar had called journalists in Jammu and Kashmir to claim responsibility and threaten more attacks, the police later claimed to have killed the main militant responsible in an armed encounter in Jammu and Kashmir. The man was reportedly an Indian citizen and a member of the Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami, an organization with links to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad.511

Indian intelligence agencies now claim that most of the operations are carried out by the three or four primary groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir: Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Badr and Hizb-ul-Mujahedin.512 Of the primarily Kashmiri armed groups, only the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin is still considered influential. Its leader, Syed Salauddin, has been resident in Pakistan since the late 1980s and, until the “war on terror,” used to meet openly with journalists.

It is difficult to estimate the number of militants actually operating in Jammu and Kashmir. More than twenty thousand alleged militants have reportedly been killed since the conflict first began in 1988.513 At least 4,500 alleged militants are presently in detention in Jammu and Kashmir, while over three thousand have surrendered. According to Jane’s Defense Weekly:

The number of militant Kashmiri and Pakistani fighters in Kashmir varies according to the intensity of operations and climate. Usually there are between 2,500 and 5,000 guerrillas, many of whom rotate between operational tours in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Central Asia, as well as training and periods of rest in Pakistan.514

While infiltration has decreased, the United Jihad Council still has machine guns, assault rifles, mortars, explosives, mines, rockets, and some sophisticated military equipment supplied by the Pakistani military, including night-vision equipment. Indian analysts say that the ISI spends up to U.S.$45 million every year to fund the militancy.515 Pakistani media reports and Human Rights Watch research in Azad Kashmir shows that weapons and training continue to be provided to the militants by Pakistan.516

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The influx of militants from Pakistan has transformed a conflict over identity and independence into an even more dangerous fight driven by religion. Most Kashmiris resent religious extremism that tends to focus more on Islamic religious rights instead of Kashmiri rights.517 After a fatal attack by militants on his uncle, separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq complained about the religious extremists:

From the day one, these forces have tried their best… to sabotage our sacred movement, and with the mask of Islam… have infiltrated into the rank and file of the movement for their trivial interests.”518

Some Pakistani militants have admitted to journalists that occasionally “innocents” have died during the Kashmir jihad, but they explained that any Muslim should be honored to die for the cause.519 Kashmiris increasingly seem to disagree. In a 2002 poll by MORI, 69 percent of respondents in Jammu and Kashmir said they opposed the foreign militant groups and 84 percent felt that Pakistan’s involvement was based on religious affinity.520

There is resentment even in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Sardar Abdul Qayoom, president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and an influential pro-Pakistan voice, said recently that the extremists who believe that Kashmir’s is a religious war have done great damage: “Jihad has become a business now. In fact, the worst damage to the Kashmir cause has been caused by jihadis.”521

Human Rights Watch takes no position on state support, such as providing weapons and training, for armed opposition groups in other countries.  However, whenever such support is provided, the state assumes certain responsibilities that can make it complicit in abuses committed. Governments that provide support should take all necessary measures to ensure that opposition forces abide by international humanitarian and human rights law, and sever all support to groups that persistently violate international legal standards.

While many Kashmiris say that without the armed groups there would not have been international pressure on India and Pakistan to resolve the problem, they also blame the militants for putting civilians at risk through bomb and grenade attacks in crowded places and by demanding food and shelter. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a leader of the All Party Hurriyat Conference, whose father and uncle were killed by militants, has consistently advocated a peaceful settlement to the Kashmir issue that accommodates the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. “The gun has played a very important role in the movement,” he says, “but militancy has to play a more supportive role rather than the dominant role.”522

He, along with several other Kashmiri rebel leaders, traveled to Pakistan several times to talk to Pakistani political leaders and meet with the militant groups based in Pakistan.523 After one such meeting, however, Syed Salauddin of Hizb-ul-Mujahedin, who also leads the United Jihad Council, stated: “The need for an organized and massive armed struggle has increased today more than ever and the Kashmiri youth need to prepare themselves for fighting in maximum numbers”524

A day after an attack in the center of Srinagar's business district on July 29, 2005, Indian paramilitary soldiers inspect a room where a suspected Pakistani Islamist militant was killed. © 2005 Robert Nickelsberg

According to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the movement in Jammu and Kashmir has become divided, with some insisting that a ceasefire and dialogue is the only option and others arguing for continuation of the armed struggle:

There are some agencies who don’t want a solution to the problem. These are hard-core organizations that see any movement forward on Kashmir as a compromise on their ideology. There is now a visible gap between those people who talk about a realistic approach and flexibility and others that believe flexibility is treason….We have to talk to these people. The gunmen have to be addressed….The Kashmiri leadership has to take responsibility because scores of people are getting killed.525

Separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir say that a settlement will be impossible unless it includes the Pakistan-based militant groups. Yasin Malik of the JKLF told Human Rights Watch that in a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in February 2006 he proposed a dialogue with militant leaders, to be held in a third country.

The Indian government is meeting Naga leaders [from north-east India] in a third country. Something similar could be arranged to talk to the militant leaders of Kashmir as well. But for this the Indian government has to be serious about working out a settlement. What is the use of talking peace if there is no serious effort by New Delhi to pursue a peace process with the Kashmiris.526

In the meantime, militant abuses continue, with no one in Pakistan or within the militant community holding perpetrators accountable.

A. Politically motivated killings, summary executions, and intimidation

Political killings in Jammu and Kashmir by militants are frequent. According to data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal , since the conflict began in 1989 and up to 2005 an estimated 571 political activists had been killed in Jammu and Kashmir.527 Militant groups have strongly opposed any election processes in Jammu and Kashmir, and many killings by militants take place in election periods. While the Indian government has always portrayed elections as evidence that Kashmiris support incorporation with India, militant groups as well as the All Party Hurriyat Conference and other rebel political leaders have always called for poll boycotts.

Militant groups have vigorously opposed political parties that contest elections in Jammu and Kashmir, calling them “Indian agents.” They call for poll boycotts in every election, bomb polling stations, attack election agents and kill party activists. During the 2002 state assembly elections, at least forty-eight political workers and leaders were killed and at least fifty polling stations were attacked.528 Saiful Islam, a leader of the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin, issued a threat: “Those participating in the elections are traitors and action against them will be taken after the elections are over.”529

During the May 2004 Indian parliamentary election campaign, several groups, many of them Pakistan-based ones like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba, issued warnings, and cadres on the ground were instructed to intimidate political workers and target campaign rallies and meetings. An anonymous handwritten poster stuck on mosque walls, for instance, carried a warning from the Jaish-e-Mohammad, telling People’s Democratic Party workers “not to participate in the elections, or else face consequences.”530 Once again, there were a number of attacks and killings. Mukhtar Ahmad Bhat of Janata Dal (U) was killed on March 18, 2004, and two days later Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami came under attack, as did PDP leader Ghulam Hassan.531 Several members of the National Conference have also been killed. In Malas village, Udhampur district, a village leader named Misruddin and another man, Haji Amkala, were punished for helping the government prepare for the elections: their ears were chopped off.532 

Former PDP Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, have both escaped several assassination attempts. On January 24, 2004, a hand grenade was thrown at Mehbooba Mufti’s convoy. On April 8, 2004, a grenade explosion during an election rally she was leading in Uri claimed eleven lives. The Save Kashmir Movement claimed responsibility for the attack.533 Mehbooba Mufti told Human Rights Watch:

So many of our workers have been killed. And not only that, children have died because of grenade attacks at our meetings. We have no control over these groups. We can only provide them with alternatives and tell them that there is progress… India and Pakistan are talking and dialogue has been offered to the militants as well. We have to convince these groups that the Kashmir issue is being sorted out and that they should not continue with the gun.534

In January-February 2005, elections were held for urban civic bodies in Jammu and Kashmir. Many Kashmiris participated because these elections gave them the opportunity to elect people who would deal with local issues. Militant groups once again called for a boycott. There were anonymous posters pasted on mosque walls and some candidates received anonymous threatening telephone calls. After the election, several elected council members have come under attack.535 Several have resigned in fear, even asking pardon from militant groups in local newspapers.536 For instance, Gulam Rasool Khan, a PDP councilor who was elected unopposed to the Beerwah municipal committee, said: “I will have no relation whatsoever with any political party.”537 Others are threatening to resign.538 One council member told Human Rights Watch:

I did not participate in these elections to show my support to India. I participated because my neighbors said I would be able to solve our problems of water supply and cleanliness. But these militants—who knows who they are?—are determined to punish us. There is not even a scope for discussion because the decision to kill us is made in Pakistan…. I try and take precautions when I go out of the house, but we are all very scared. In my neighborhood, I have many supporters who will protect me. But many others are in hiding. They are certain the militants will kill them.539 

Militants have also summarily executed the children of persons targeted for attack.  Two such cases—involving the eight-year-old daughter of a special police officer in Baramulla, and the fifteen-year-old daughter of an alleged police informer—have already been described above, and in the Chak Dara case, discussed below, alleged militants beheaded a twelve-year-old boy. Among those killed in the massacre of Hindus at Nadimarg were two children.

The following are some individual cases of politically motivated attacks, allegedly by militant groups. As with the cases of those killed by Indian government forces, this list is intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive.

Killing of Ghulam Ahmad Ganai, November 11, 2005

As Ghulam Ahmad Ganai walked to the mosque with his wife and daughters for Friday prayers, they saw six young men lurking outside. According to daughter Nahida Chaman, “They must have been in their early twenties. They were all in firans [long woolen shirts worn in Kashmir]. My father asked them who they were, and invited them to prayers at our mosque. But they refused and said they were waiting for someone.”540

Finishing his prayers early, Ghulam Ahmad stepped out of the mosque. Two of the six men waiting outside opened fire. Ghulam Ahmad was shot in the legs, arms and chest and fell to the ground. Other people at the mosque rushed out. Some picked up the injured man, while others tried to chase his attackers. But all six escaped, shouting, “We killed him because he is like a dangerous bear.”541

Ghulam Ahmad had previously been a militant, but surrendered and, in 1997, joined talks with the Indian government. He also became a member of the National Conference, later switching to the PDP and, in 2005, to the Congress party. According to Nahida Chaman,

We think it was a political killing. The militants did not like that he was promoting peace in Kashmir. So they killed him.542

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the murder.543

Killing of Ghulam Rasool Andrabi, also known as “Gayoor,” October 22, 2005

Shopkeepers in Pulwama had been wondering about the young stranger, about age eighteen, who was walking up and down in front of Ghulam Rasool Andrabi’s house. When Ghulam Rasool, a poet who wrote under the penname “Gayoor,” stepped out of his gate to buy some sugar, the shopkeepers saw the young man talk briefly into his cell phone. As Ghulam Rasool returned to his house, he walked past the man, who then opened fire, first hitting him on the leg. As Ghulam Rasool bent down to clutch his wound, another shot was fired into the back of his head, killing him instantly. His killer ran away.

Ghulam Rasool was a member of the National Conference and a well known politician in the area. The army and the police arrived immediately on the scene. Eyewitnesses in the bazaar said that the shooting had happened so quickly that that they could not identify the killer. A police complaint was lodged. The investigation has made little progress, said his son Syed Wajahat Rasool Andrabi:

We know that the killer was a militant. Two militants had come to our house a month before my father’s death. They did not say anything to us. But now we think they had come to check out the area. One-and-a-half months after my father was killed, both my brother and I received an anonymous call on our cell phone. A man told us that we must leave Pulwama within twenty-four hours, or we would meet the same fate as our father. I told the caller that I thought it was a crank call. So he offered to meet me. I refused. Then he said that I should check the number that had flashed on my phone when he called. “Everyone knows that number,” he said. I said I had no one to ask about all this and that we had nowhere to go, so we would not leave our home. Then I heard shots being fired near the phone. The man said, now that I had heard the firing, I should take the warning seriously and leave.544

The caller said to Wajahat Rasool that he belonged to the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin.  Wajahat Rasool and his brother complained to the police about the threats, but they were told not to worry. No additional security was provided. After the initial telephone call to the two sons, there were several other threatening calls. In some of them, the anonymous callers asked the family to go to the mosque and publicly beg forgiveness. Syed Wajahat Rasool said their life is constantly at risk.

I said [to the callers], ‘what should we apologize for? Tell us our mistake? You did not warn my father, you just killed him.’ I refused to leave. But my mother is so scared, she does not let us go out of the house. She has insisted that we disconnect our phones because she does not want any more threats.”545

Wajahat Rasool also went to the mobile phone company to check on the number from which the threats were made. The number is listed under a resident of Shopian in Pulwama. The name and address was also provided to the police, but according to Wajahat Rasool, there has been no further investigation.

Killing of three men and a boy in Chak Dara, July 17, 2005

Ghulam Qadar Uswal, a forty-five-year-old hotelier, was a member of the National Conference. On July 17, 2005, a man came to call him from his hotel. According to his nephew:

My uncle was called away in the evening. He did not return all night. We went looking for him in the morning and eventually someone found him in an orchard near the forest. His throat had been slit. While we were there, one of the villagers found another body a little further away. And then we found two others. All of their throats were slit.546

The three other dead were local villagers who had gone out to the forest to gather herbs. Two were brothers, Mukhtar Ahmad, age twelve, and Mohammad Ahwan, age thirty while the third was their brother-in-law Mohammad Aslam. All four were Gujjars, tribal people who live high in the mountains. Their families had repeatedly come under attack from militants because they are suspected to be government informers.

The Gujjar and Bakarwal communities often live in the upper mountains in the summer and come down to lower areas in winter, when snow makes the heights uninhabitable. As they are familiar with the mountain paths and passes, they often spot militants as they cross the border into Jammu and Kashmir. These communities are ethnically different from Kashmiris. It is believed that they often inform the security forces of militant movements, particularly when they are hiding in the forested mountains. As a result they have been coming under increasing attacks by militants. Four Gujjars were killed in the Dachigam area near Srinagar in July 2005. Four others were killed in the same area in June 2005. On June 27, 2004, twelve Gujjars were killed for allegedly helping the army to block a strategic route in the Poonch sector.547

The Gujjars and Bakarwals have been feeling increasingly threatened. Said one Gujjar man in Chak Dara:

We have a terrible time. We cannot step out after dark. The militants are always roaming about and they attack us if we see them.548

Killing of Mohammad Ramzan Mian, May 3, 2005

A member of the Congress party, fifty-two-year-old Mohammad Ramzan Mian, was very active during the 2002 state assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. According to his sister Wazira:

We used to receive threatening calls from militants all the time. But he refused to stop. There was a bomb blast right outside our house, but he still did not stop.549

In February 2005, Mohammad Ramzan decided to contest the municipal elections. He won. Because of the threats from militants, three armed policemen were assigned to provide security for him. On May 3, 2005, when he was walking through the market barely a few hundred meters from his house, gunmen opened fire. He and his personal security officer died on the spot, while two security guards died later in hospital from gunshot wounds.550 No group has claimed responsibility for the killings.

Killing of Peer Mohammad Maqbool Shah, February 9, 2005

Peer Mohammad Maqbool Shah was a member of the National Conference. The seventy-year-old was very active in his neighborhood. When the 2005 municipal elections were announced in Srinagar he became the party candidate and was elected. Said his daughter-in-law:

We were against the decision. We thought there was too much risk. One of my brothers-in-law had already been killed by militants [Mohammad Maqbool’s son Peer Abdul Majid Shah, also a National Conference member, had been shot dead in 1995]. We feared that the militants would strike at us again. But my father-in-law was a very brave man. He said that the militants were also his sons. They had just lost their way. They would not hurt him.551

On February 9, 2005, Mohammad Maqbool went for evening prayers to the neighborhood mosque. He was killed by a single shot as he walked back home. No one saw the killer and no group has admitted to the killing. However, his family says that they know he was killed by militants. Said his daughter-in-law: “The militants had already warned people against contesting. But he [Mohammad Maqbool] would not listen. So they killed him.”552

Killing of Farooq Ahmad Zargar, December 29, 2004

Farooq Ahmad Zargar had been a member of the National Conference since he was a student. In 2002, when he was actively campaigning for the party during the state elections, he came under attack. An unknown gunman opened fire, wounding him in the leg. Although he knew he was being targeted by militants, according to his brother Javed Ahmad Zargar, he insisted on continuing to work for the party. He was planning to contest the municipal elections in 2005.

On December 29, 2004, Farooq Ahmad went to attend the funeral service of a relative. His brother was with him. It was about 7:30 in the evening.  His brother recounted:

Outside the graveyard, there are two streets. There were two men waiting, one on each street. They were wearing firans (long woolen shirts usually worn in Kashmir). They were holding guns that had been hidden inside their sleeves. They both opened fire. My brother fell down and they both ran away.553

Farooq Ahmad was rushed to hospital, but did not survive his injuries. No group has claimed responsibility for the killing.

Attacks on the National Conference’s Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, and killing of Safdar Ali Baig

The National Conference, the main opposition party after its defeat in the 2002 Jammu and Kashmir state elections, has long been a target of militants because of its participation in electoral politics and its enormous clout in the state. Historically, it has remained the state’s largest political party and its founder, Sheikh Abdullah, is still highly respected. While the National Conference has always campaigned for greater autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, it does not support either independence or accession to Pakistan. Although discredited because of rigged elections and widespread corruption during the rule of Sheikh Abdullah’s son, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, who remains the leader of the National Conference, the party is still regarded as one of the greatest challenges to the separatist ideology of the militants. It has now effectively led by Farooq Abdullah’s son, Omar Abdullah.

Several hundred National Conference workers and leaders have been killed since 1989, with Safdar Ali Baig one of the most prominent victims. A former minister and senior leader of the party, Safdar Ali Baig was shot by masked gunmen as he came out of a mosque after prayers on October 21, 2004. He was killed in Anantnag town.554 The police said they suspected separatist militants of the killing. The National Conference responded by demanding more security for party leaders and activists.555  Yet on October 24, 2004, when Omar Abdullah, and several others were on their way to attend the funeral ceremonies of Safdar Ali Baig, an improvised explosive device was triggered just as they reached Sarnal graveyard in Anantnag district, where the prayers were being held. Omar Abdullah’s car was barely ten feet away. Although he escaped unhurt, seven people were injured in the blast, one of them fatally. The attack followed an attack on October 9, 2004, when militants had opened fire on Omar Abdullah’s convoy as he traveled from Srinagar to Jammu.

Killing of eleven PDP supporters

On April 8, 2004, eleven people were killed and nearly seventy injured in a grenade attack during an election rally in Uri. Sardar Kabir Ahmad Khan, a local PDP supporter present at the rally, said that the blast was enormous:

Mehbooba Mufti was about to address the rally. The militants must have been waiting for her. Suddenly there were several explosions. Many people were injured. So many died. My son was hurt in the leg so badly, he had to be in hospital. But the doctors could not take out all the shrapnel.556

The PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, who may have been the target, escaped unhurt, but several party officials were killed. The state’s finance minister, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, and tourism minister, Ghulam Hassan Mir, were among the injured. Responsibility for the attack was later claimed by the Save Kashmir Movement. Earlier, the same group had claimed responsibility for the killing of Abdul Aziz Mir, a PDP legislator, and the deaths of party supporters Ghulam Mohammad Dar and Ali Mohammad Bhat.557

Noora Sofi holds photographs of her husband Abdul Rahim Sofi and son, Gawar Ali Sofi. Both were shot dead by militants inside their home. Abdul Rahim, a police constable, had earlier refused to shelter a Pakistani militant.
© 2005 Robert Nickelsberg

Attacks on Mangat Ram Sharma

The Congress party deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mangat Ram Sharma, has escaped several attacks on his life. In one, on July 13, 2004, alleged militants threw a grenade at his car in Srinagar, injuring several persons. On July 20, 2004, Mangat Ram Sharma, power minister Mohammed Sharief Niaz, and other government functionaries were visiting a medical camp in Kapran. It was a crowded event with cultural performances and a check distribution ceremony. Just as the minister finished delivering his speech, a grenade hit the right side of the podium and exploded, killing four persons and injuring twenty-two. Mangat Ram Sharma and other Congress leaders and district administration officials were wounded.  No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the police suspect militant groups, pointing out that Duru, the area where the attack occurred, has long been a militant stronghold.558

Killing of Abdul Rahim Sofi and Gawar Ali Sofi, October 14, 2004

Eighteen-year-old Gawar Ali Sofi had gone out and bought a VCD home to watch. The family locked their front gate and sat down to watch the movie. Suddenly they heard voices outside. According to his mother Noora:

We had a guest and we heard him greet someone. Then we heard a stranger respond. We were surprised because the gates were locked. How could someone come inside? Then the door opened and a man came inside. He was carrying a gun. My husband asked who he was. But the man opened fire. He killed my husband and my son. I was injured. The man ran away.559

The neighbors later said that the assailant had jumped over the wall. Another man had waited outside. The family suspects that the killers were militants. Noora continued:

A few weeks earlier, two men had come to the house. One was Pakistani and the other said he was from Pakistani Kashmir. They wanted us to give them a room to stay in. My husband was a police officer. He refused to let them stay. I think those men were angry and they came back to kill him.560

No group has claimed responsibility for the killings. The family has received compensation from the government. 561

Attack on Mohammad Yakub Chaat, September 30, 2004

During the 2002 state elections, eighteen-year-old Mohammad Yakub Chaat’s family had campaigned openly for the local PDP candidate, Zahoor Mir, who was related to the family. On September 30, 2004, unidentified gunmen entered Mohammad Yakub’s home in Namblabal, Pampore, and opened fire. Mohammad Yakub had just returned from working on his farm and was in the family sitting room with his parents and eight-year-old nephew. The gunmen opened fire from behind a curtain. Chaat, who was shot in his arm, leg and shoulder, survived. Mohammad Yakub’s relatives believe that the attack was in retaliation for the family’s participation in the election. Said his father, Ghulam Hasan Chaat, “We are not interested in politics. But since a relative was the candidate, it was our obligation to help him. I suppose the militants decided to punish us.”562

The family had lost an older son, Farooq Ahmad Chaat, in 1996, when he was abducted and killed by unidentified gunmen. The family is now extremely frightened. They keep their doors locked at all times. The little boy who witnessed the shooting even stopped speaking for awhile from the shock.

Killing of Habibullah Sheikh, June 18, 2004

Fifty-eight-year-old Habibullah Sheikh was a long-time supporter of the National Conference party. On June 18, 2004, he went to the market in Beerwah, Budgam, to purchase the morning paper. At around 10 a.m., as he returned, two unidentified gunmen were waiting for him just outside his home. They opened fire at close range, killing him instantly. According to his son, Javed Ahmad Sheikh, his father had held a party meeting in his house just three days before his death. Javed Sheikh says that this might have provoked the militants.

My father has openly supported the National Conference all these years. Why did they choose to kill him now? Who knows what these people want…But I have no doubt that he was killed by militants.563

The family has received compensation from the government. No group admitted responsibility for the killing.564

Killing of Maulvi Mushtaq Ahmed and other attacks on his family

Maulvi Mushtaq Ahmed, a retired civil servant, was killed while offering midday prayers at a mosque at Rajwari Kadal in Srinagar. Maulvi Mushtaq was not active politically, although he was part of the Hurriyat Conference led by his nephew Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, which had been advocating dialogue with the Indian government. When Maulvi Mushtaq went to pray at the mosque, his assassins were already inside waiting for him. As he knelt and bent down, he was shot from behind. He was rushed to hospital, where he died from his wounds on June 7, 2004. Wrote Amy Waldman of the New York Times:

Even by the violent standards of the conflict here… the killing of an unarmed 61-year-old man at prayer seemed to set a new standard of venality…. No one, as far as anyone knows, had ever been killed while offering prayers to God.565

On May 29, 2004, even as the family was at the hospital waiting for news, there was a grenade attack on Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s house. The rifle grenade, fired from a distance, exploded in an alley outside the house. Although no one was hurt, there was some damage to the property.

The Save Kashmir Movement claimed responsibility for the attack. Its spokesperson, Sheikh Tajamul, told a local news agency by telephone:

This should serve as the writing on the wall for those who have entered into dialogue…that no individual or party, howsoever important they might be, can be above the mujahedin and the jihad.566

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told Human Rights Watch: 

These attacks were definitely in the context of the dialogue process. This appears to be a message from the hardliners. These people are targeting political leaders. These are groups that do not owe their allegiance to anybody. That is something that we feel is very difficult to handle. But they are being funded and so someone is certainly responsible for these actions.567

Killing of Mohammad Sultan Sheikh, December 9, 2003

In April 2003, an armed gunman had hidden in the home of Mohammad Sultan Sheikh, a poor carpet weaver, in Chewpora village, Beerwah, Budgam. The militant was being chased by soldiers when he ran into the hut. The troops then surrounded it. According to Mohammad Sultan’s wife Ayesha Sheikh, there was an exchange of fire and the militant managed to escape.568

On December 9, 2003, unidentified gunmen claiming to be with the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin came to the home of Mohmmad Sultan Sheikh. They called him outside, accused him of being an informer, and summarily executed him. Ayesha Sheikh says the accusations were not true:

My husband did not know anything about militants. After the militant escaped, the security forces used to come regularly and take him away for interrogation. He was tortured a lot. Then the militants killed him. We have no one to protect us. I have four small children and they have been orphaned by these people.569

Killing of Bashir Ahmed Tantray, February 15, 2003

Bashir Ahmed Tantray was a carpet weaver and lived with his family in Pattan. He often went to the local army camp and had some friends there. On February 15, 2003, the twenty-year-old had gone to the mosque for afternoon prayers. According to his uncle, Ghulam Mohammad Tantray, he had previously been threatened by militants who thought he was an informer:

He was killed about 4:30 in the afternoon. There were other people near the mosque. But no one recognized the killer. He just walked up and opened fire. There were four or five bullets. Everyone ran away.570

The family was paid compensation by the government.

B. Direct and indiscriminate attacks on civilians

As militant groups have lost ground to the security forces, they have increasingly made use of bombs, grenades, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), landmines, and other explosive devices.571 While many were directed against the security forces, others were used directly against civilians, or indiscriminately, with predictable civilian casualties.  International humanitarian law prohibits direct attacks on civilians. 572 Additionally, methods of attack that are not directed or cannot be directed at a specific military target, and consequently, are of a nature to strike military targets and civilians without distinction, are prohibited.573

According to data compiled from press accounts by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, there were nearly 200 such attacks in 2005 that claimed at least 120 lives.574 In 2004, there were over 200 bombings, killing nearly 150 people.575 Kashmiri groups have also been blamed for blasts outside Jammu and Kashmir, such as the October 2005 attacks in New Delhi and the March 2006 attack in Varanasi.576

According to a 2005 report by the Landmine Monitor, established by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines:

There were numerous reports of new antipersonnel mine casualties in this region in this reporting period, but it was usually not possible to determine which group laid the mines. A review of media reports in 2004 and 2005 by Landmine Monitor found reports every month of military and civilian casualties from landmine and IED explosions in Jammu and Kashmir. In almost every case, Islamic militants were blamed for the incidents.577

Car bomb at Central Secondary School, killing fourteen, Pulwama, June 13, 2005

On June 13, 2005, students had just come in from the morning assembly. Manzoor Ahmed was teaching his class when an apparently parked car packed with explosives was detonated outside the school. Says Manzoor Ahmed:

I heard a loud noise. Then I felt a sharp pain and looked down. There was blood on my shirt. I realized I had been hurt. The windows were all broken. My students had fallen down. I was badly injured. There was a hole through my stomach. I spent weeks in hospital and have only just [six weeks later] returned to work.578

Fourteen people were killed, including three children and three soldiers. Over 100 people were injured.579 According to school authorities, the damage could have been worse:

Just half an hour earlier, the students were on drill outside. If they had still been there, they would all have been hurt. One student, who was there drinking water, was killed…. The students at the school are still very disturbed. Recently there was an explosion at an electric pole and three children fainted with fear.580

It is unclear whether the school was the intended target, and no militant group admitted responsibility for the attack, which was condemned by all political parties and non-violent separatist groups.581

Landmine blast killing Aasia Jeelani and Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, April 20, 2004

Aasia Jeelani, along with other members of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, were monitoring the parliamentary elections in April 2004. On April 20, the seven member team was on its way to monitor the Baramulla and Kupwara districts. At Sogam, in Kupwara district, their vehicle was blown up in a blast by an IED. Two persons including Aasia Jeelani and the driver, Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, were killed and four others injured.582 Lashkar-e-Toiba militants reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.583

Grenade attack killing Samrina Iqbal Bandey, February 27, 2004

A student at the local high school, fifteen-year-old Samrina Iqbal Bandey attended a rally held by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in Syedpora, Beerwah, Budgam, on February 27 , 2004. Alleged militants fired two rifle grenades into the crowd and she was killed on the spot.584 The family received cash compensation from the government and the local college has been named after her.

Death of Mohammad Ayub Khoro, Abdul Shamsher and eight others, September 6, 2003

On the morning of September 6, 2003, Mohammad Ayub, a twenty-nine-year-old blacksmith, and Abdul Shamsher, a traveling salesman, were waiting at a crowded bus stop near their homes. Most of the people at the bus stand were residents of a displaced persons colony in Pareempura, where they had moved because of violence in the countryside. Without warning, at about 9:45 a.m., alleged militants triggered a landmine by the bus stop. Eight people were killed, including Mohammad Ayub and Abdul Shamsher, and several others were injured. Hasina Ayub, Mohammad Ayub’s twenty-four-year-old widow, said she is destitute: “They have destroyed our lives. I have two small children. Don’t these people care about women and children?585

C. Militant attacks on schools and recruitment of children

Militants in Kashmir have long been responsible for attacks on schools and for recruiting children into their forces.  International humanitarian law prohibits attacks directed at civilians and civilian objects. Schools are protected as civilian objects, while teachers and students fall under the protection granted to civilians unless they are taking a direct part in hostilities.586 International law also prohibits the recruitment and use of children as soldiers and in other combat-related roles.587 The prohibition on the recruitment and use of children below the age of fifteen is now considered customary international law, and is binding on all parties to armed conflict.588 This standard is also reflected in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which India ratified in December 1992.589  The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which India ratified in November 2005, prohibits state armed forces and rebel groups from recruiting or using in hostilities persons under the age of eighteen years.590

Laborers work on the reconstruction of the renowned Islamia High School in downtown Srinagar, August 2, 2005. The school suffered an arson attack in early 2005 by Pakistani-supported Islamist militants as a warning to the Kashmiri owner and religious leader of the school not to negotiate with the Indian Government over Kashmir's independence.
© 2005 Robert Nickelsberg

According to the International Center for Peace Initiatives, militants have carried out attacks damaging at least 650 schools since the conflict began.591 Causing particular outrage was an attack on July 5, 2004, when militants burned down the 105-year-old Islamia Higher Secondary School run by a religious and education trust led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.592

In some of these attacks on schools, children have been killed or injured.593 On August 15, 2004, two students were injured when a grenade fired by alleged militants exploded during Independence Day celebrations at a school in Baramulla.594 In March 2005, an eight-year-old was killed and six other students injured in a blast inside the compound of the Nadihal high school.595 (For the death of a student in a car bomb blast that struck a school in Pulwama, an incident in which it is unclear whether the school was specifically targeted, see above.)

Teachers say that students have become traumatized. One teacher described the situation after there was an explosion outside the Kamala Nehru School in Srinagar when the students had gathered in the courtyard for morning-prayer:

The children of Kashmir live in a constant state of terror. As soon as there was a blast, the children began to run. It was a stampede. They pushed at the teachers and at each other. Several children fell down. Some managed to stumble outside the gate, and many fell as they ran. They were picked up by the shopkeepers. That is the situation in Kashmir today. Everyone lives in fear. We don’t know who is responsible for the blast.596

Militant groups have drafted children in Jammu and Kashmir, Azad Kashmir, and Pakistan.  Recruits may be volunteers or abductees. The militants have engaged in active recruitment of children into their forces.597 Although Human Rights Watch did not interview any child soldiers, some former militants said that they had joined the armed groups when they were children. For instance, one former militant described how he and several of his friends had joined the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin in 1996. He was sixteen at that time:

I was still in school. Many boys from our village, who had crossed to Pakistan in 1989 or soon after, were senior commanders. They used to come back for visits with their guns and tell us that it was our duty to join the fight…. It was not the gun that tempted me, but the shoes that they used to wear. They had those nice jogging shoes. They told me I would get a pair too, if I joined. So I did.598

Parents in some villages visited by Human Rights Watch complained that they are always fearful that their children will be indoctrinated and then recruited from schools or mosques, or by militants operating in the area.599

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, nearly three thousand boys have been abducted by alleged militants since the conflict began.600 For example, in Chootwaliwar, Gandherbal, villagers told Human Rights Watch that at least three people had been abducted by militants in 2003, one of them a schoolboy; none of them have returned.601

Children are put to work in various roles by militant groups after receiving rudimentary arms training.602 With children being used as messengers or to ferry weapons, security forces have started checking them as well,603 and several have reportedly been arrested while crossing the border.604 Members of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association say there are several child soldiers in custody in various jails.605

This fact that children serve with the militants places many other children at the risk of aggressive questioning by troops at check posts. The use of children by militants may have led to abuses by security forces, such as the killing of four boys playing cricket in Handwara in 2006 (see above). Troops say that they opened fire because they believed a militant was hiding among the boys.606

461 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Srinagar, July 2005.

462 “Reunited Kashmiris’ Tears of Joy,” BBC News, April 7, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 15, 2005).

463 “Kashmiris Clamor For Bus Permits,” BBC News, March 14, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 15, 2005).

464Yusuf Jameel, “Indo-Pak Bus Is A Coffin: Militants,” The Asian Age, March 31, 2005.

465The statement was signed by Al Nasireen, Al Arifeen, Save Kashmir Movement and Farzandan-i-Millat, all of them suspected to be fronts for or associated with the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

466 M. Saleem Pandit, ‘“We are Calling UP Passengers,’ Warn J & K Militant Groups,” The Times of India, April 3, 2005.

467“Guerrillas Attack Kashmir Bus Yard,” Indo Asian News Service, April 6, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 15, 2005); “Kashmir Tourist Center Attacked,” CNN, April 7, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 15, 2005).

468 “Reunited Kashmiris’ Tears of Joy,” BBC News, April 7, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 15, 2005).

469 M.J. Akbar, “The Next Moment,” The Asian Age, April 10, 2005.

470 The  Indian government reports that there were 61,935 militant attacks from 1990 to January 31, 2005, claiming 12,542 civilian lives. Ministry of Home Affairs, Annual Report 2004-2005. Annexure-II  p. 164.  The New Delhi based South Asia Terrorism Portal, which collects data on insurgencies in South Asia, says that news accounts reported that nearly 14,000 civilians in Jammu and Kashmir had been killed in terrorist violence up to April 2006. Nearly 5,500 security forces personnel and over 20,500 alleged militants have also been killed.  See “Annual Fatalities in Terrorist Violence 1988-2006,” [online] (retrieved April 14, 2006).

471 Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Ghani Bhat, a leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Srinagar, October 12, 2004.

472Ashok Pahalwan, “Thirty Five Hindus Massacred In Kashmir Ahead Of Talks,” Reuters, May 1, 2006, [online] (retrieved May 20, 2006).

473 Human Rights Watch interview with Justice A.M. Mir, chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission, Srinagar, October 15, 2004.

474 “Kashmir Rebels Bomb Hospital, Behead Three,” Reuters, July 26, 2004, [online] (retrieved September 3, 2004).

475 “Five Killed in Kashmir Violence,” BBC News, August 18, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 14, 2006).

476 Special Police Officers (SPOs) are Kashmiris hired on fixed-term contracts to work in and around the areas they belong to. As such, they not only act as conventional troopers, but liaise between the community and the police force. As previously noted, many militants, after they surrendered, have been hired as SPOs.

477 Indian security agencies have organized groups of villagers, many of them minority Hindus, in remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir into village defense committees and provided them arms and training to protect themselves against militant attacks.

478“Five Hindus Shot Dead in Indian Kashmir,” Reuters, August 13, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

479“SPO Hanged to Death by Militants,” Press Trust of India, August 10, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005); “Five Ultras Among Nine Killed in J&K,” Press Trust of India, August 3, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

480“Militants Behead J&K Cop’s Wife, Daughter,” Press Trust of India, April 25, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

481 The Landmine Monitor Report 2005 said that at least five militant groups including the Lashkar-e-Toiba Hizb-ul-Mujahedin, Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkat-ul-Ansar, have used antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines or IEDs. See [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

482 Shujaat Bukhari, “6 Killed, 20 Injured As Car Bomb Explodes Near Srinagar,” The Hindu, November 3, 2005, [online] (retrieved April 14, 2006).

483“Strike 3 in 3 days: Srinagar Bomb Kills 4, injures 40,” The Indian Express, November 17, 2005, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

484Mukhtar Ahmed, “5 Terror Strikes During PM visit,”, May 24, 2006, [online] (retrieved May 29, 2006).

485Shujaat Bukhari, “Militants Target Srinagar Rally, 6 Killed,” The Hindu, May 22, 2006, [online] (retrieved May 29, 2006).

486South Asia Terrorism Portal, “Major Terrorist Attacks on Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir since 1997,” [online] attack_hindu.htm (retrieved March 13, 2006).

487Praveen Swami, “Terror Amidst Death,” Frontline, October 22-November 4, 2005, [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

488“Militants Slit Hindus Throats,” BBC News, July 29, 2005, [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

489“28 Hindus Migrate to Jammu from Valley,” Press Trust of India, April 10, 2003, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

490Ministry of Home Affairs, Annual Report, 2004-2005, p. 27.

491 “We Ban Return of Pandits to Valley: Militants,” The Indian Express, July 23, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

492 International Center for Peace Initiatives, “Cost of Conflict Between India and Pakistan,” 2004, p. 65.

493 South Asia Terrorism Portal, “Political Activists Killed by Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, 1989-2005,” [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

494 “Militants Chop Off Ears of Two on Election Duty,” The Indian Express, April 21, 2004, [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

495 “Newspaper Office Ransacked in Srinagar,” Press Trust of India, February 9, 2006, [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

496 Human Rights Watch interviews with two journalists in Srinagar, names withheld, July 2005 and March 2006.

497Human Rights Watch interview with journalist, name withheld, Srinagar, October 13, 2004.

498Sudha Ramachandran, “Where Beheadings Also Strike Fear,” Asia Times Online, June 29, 2004, [online] (retrieved May 29, 2006).

499“Terrorist Threats Switch Off Kashmir Cable TV,” Indo Asian News Service, May 12, 2006, [online] (retrieved May 29, 2006).

500 “Kashmir Militant Group Prohibits Women From Using Mobiles,” The Indian Express, May 29, 2006.

501See Background for details.

502Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Srinagar, March 2, 2006.

503 Ibid.

504 Human Rights Watch, India: Arms and Abuses in Indian Punjab and Kashmir, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994), [online]

505 According to Indian analysts, this is proved by the increasing number of foreign militants, most of them Pakistani, who have been arrested or killed in Jammu and Kashmir.

506 Human Rights Watch interviews with Kashmiris from Anantnag and Kupwara districts, October 2004 and July 2005.

507 Wajahat Habibullah, “The Political Economy of the Kashmir Conflict; Opportunities for Economic Peacebuilding and for U.S. policy,” United States Institute of Peace, Special Report 121, June 2004, [online] (retrieved August 18, 2004).

508Time magazine reported in February 2001: “Despite a decade of denials—Islamabad insists it only provides moral and political support, not training or tangible aid—Pakistan is fueling militant activity in Kashmir. Of the five main militant groups operating in Kashmir, four are based in Pakistan, where open recruiting and fundraising are commonplace. Training of militants is also done on Pakistani soil. The Pakistani military is deeply involved, especially in the smuggling of anti-Indian militants across the Line of Control. Ghulam Hasnain, “Inside Jihad,” Time, February 5, 2001, Vol. 157 No. 5, [online] (retrieved July 20, 2005).

509“Jihad Recruitment on the Rise,” The Friday Times, July 29, 2003, [online] (retrieved May 31, 2004).

510 The same group, with three others, issued warnings to passengers on the Srinagar-Muzzafarabad bus in April 2005.

511 “Police Kill Varanasi Militant,” BBC News, May 9, 2006, [online] http:///  (retrieved May 21, 2006).

512Interviews with Indian officials, names withheld, New Delhi, November 2005. The Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahedin, Harkat-ul-Mujahedin, Jammu & Kashmir Islamic Front, Al Badr, Jamiat-ul-Mujahedin and Dukhtaran-e-Millat have been banned by the Indian government as “terrorist organizations.”

513 South Asia Terrorism Portal, “Annual Fatalities in Terrorist Violence 1988-2006,” [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

514 Jane’s World Insurgency and Terrorism, United Jihad Council Groups, [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

515 K. Santhanam et al, Jihadis in Jammu and Kashmir, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, (New Delhi: Sage Publications India Ltd, 2003), p. 35. According to the authors, ISI directly contributes about 25 percent of the estimated U.S.$45 million  it spends annually to fund the militant groups. Another forty percent is channeled through contributions received from worldwide Islamic groups. The money is used for incentive payments, training, salaries, arms and ammunition. The funds are sent into India through religious trusts, welfare organizations and through the underground cash networks called hawala.

516 Zulfiqar Ali, “Mansehra Militant Camp Humming Again,” The Herald, July 10, 2005,[online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

517 Both pro-independence and pro-Pakistan Kashmiri leaders told Human Rights Watch that they do not believe in religious communalism, and in fact insist that they want displaced Kashmiri Hindus to return to their homes. They admit, however, that they cannot guarantee their safety from the militant Islamist groups based in Pakistan.

518 “Mirwaiz Calls Attackers ‘intruders in freedom struggle,’” The Daily Excelsior, June 4, 2004, [online] 20040604d.html (retrieved September 3, 2005).

519 Meenakshi Ganguly, “Three the Very Hard Way,” Time, September 16, 2005, [online] http://www/,13675,501020923-351277,00.html (retrieved July 20, 2005).

520MORI, Detailed Poll Results, [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

521 “Jihadis Have Done Worst Damage to Kashmir Cause: Sardar Qayoom,” The Indian Express, May 15, 2005, [online] (retrieved July 23, 2005).

522 Human Rights Watch interview with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Srinagar, October 13, 2004.

523 Zeeshan Haidar, “Kashmir Leaders go to Pakistan Looking for Peace,” Reuters, June 3, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

524 “Hizb Rejects Calls For Ceasefire With India,” AFP, June 22, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005); “HM Not to Join Temporary Peace Process,” The Pakistan Tribune, July 11, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

525Human Rights Watch interview with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Srinagar, October 14, 2004

526 Human Rights Watch interview with Yasin Malik, Srinagar, March 4, 2006.

527South Asia Terrorism Portal, “Political Activists Killed by Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, 1989-2005,” [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

528 International Center For Peace Initiatives, “Cost of Conflict Between India and Pakistan,” 2004, p. 69. 

529‘“We’ll punish those who participated in elections’: Hizb,” Press Trust of India, October 5, 2002.

530Praveen Swami, “A Campaign of Guns,” Frontline, Volume 21, April 24-May 7, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

531 Praveen Swami, “Forces Brace For Elections, At Gunpoint,” The Hindu, March 21, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

532“Militants Chop Off Ears of Two on Election Duty,” The Indian Express, April 21, 2004,[online] (retrieved September 3, 2004).

533 Praveen Swami, “A Campaign of Guns,” Frontline, April 24-May 07, 2004.

534 Human Rights Watch interview with Mehbooba Mufti, Srinagar, October 17, 2004.

535 “Corporator Shot in J&K,” The Telegraph, June 3, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 12, 2005).

536 M. Saleem Pandit, “J&K Councillors Run For Cover,” The Times of India, February 16, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 12, 2005).


538 “National Conference Threatens Resignations of Corporators,” Indo-Asian News Service, February 11, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 12, 2005).

539 Human Rights Watch interview with municipal council member, name withheld, July 30, 2005.

540Human Rights Watch interview with Nahida Chaman, victim’s daughter, Lajoora, Pulwama, March 1, 2006.

541 Human Rights Watch interview with Zaiba Chaman, victim’s wife, Lajoora, Pulwama, March 1, 2006.

542 Human Rights interview with Nahida Chaman, victim’s daughter, March 1, 2006.

543 “Cong Activist Gunned Down,” The Daily Excelsior, November 11, 2005, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

544 Human Rights Watch interview with Syed Wajahat Rasool Andrabi, Ratnipora, Pulwama, March 1, 2006.

545 Ibid.

546 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad Rafiq, Chak Dara, July 31, 2005.

547Luv Puri, “They Came To Wipe Out Two Clans of Gujjars,” The Hindu, June 27, 2004, [online] (retrieved September 3, 2004).

548Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, July 31, 2005.

549 Human Rights Watch interview with Wazira, victim’s sister, Pattan, August 4, 2005.

550 Mukhtar Ahmad, “Militants Kill Yet Another Civic Chief in Kashmir,”, May 3, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 12, 2005).

551 Human Rights Watch interview with Mrs. Farooq, daughter-in-law of Pir Mohammad Maqbool Shah, Srinagar, July 31, 2005.

552 Ibid.

553 Human Rights Watch interview with Javed Ahmad Zargar, victim’s brother, Srinagar, July 30, 2005.

554 “Masked Guerillas Kill Former Kashmir Minister,” Reuters, October 21, 2004, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

555 “NC Shell Shocked Over Baig Killing, Seeks More Security,” The Times of India, October 23, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

556 Human Rights Watch interview with Sardar Kabir Ahmad Khan, Galibagh village, Baramulla, February 28, 2006. His son Zulfiqar Khan was later killed in a faked armed encounter. Please see Section V, p. 83.

557 “Terrorists Gun Down PDP MLA Abdul Aziz Mir,” Press Trust of India, December 20, 2002, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

558 “Kashmir Rebel Leader Escapes Second Rebel Attack In A Week,” Reuters, July 19, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

559Human Rights Watch interview with Noora, wife of Abdul Rahim Sofi, Theer, July 31, 2005.

560 Human Rights Watch interview with Noora, Theer, July 31, 2005.

561 A simple way to determine that the state concluded that a person killed was not an alleged militant is whether the government offered compensation to the family of the deceased. The government makes a distinction between pro-state and anti-state casualties. Victims injured or killed in cross-fire or in militant attacks are given monetary compensations, which is usually Rs. 100,000 rupees (U.S. $2,300) for deaths, Rs 75,000 (U.S. $1700)  for permanent disability, Rs 5,000 (U.S. $116) for grievous injury and Rs 1,000 (U.S. $ 20) for minor injuries. Compensation up to Rs. 200,000 (U.S. $4,500)  is paid in compensation for property damaged in militancy. Annual Report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 2003-2004, p. 27.

562 Human Rights Watch interview with Ghulam Hasan Chaat, Pampore, October 14, 2004.

563Human Rights Watch interview, Javed Ahmad Sheikh, victim’s son, Beerwah, October 15, 2004.

564 Ibid.

565Amy Waldman, “Violence in Kashmir Invades a Most Sacred Space,” The New York Times, June 16, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 20, 2005).

566 “Militants Attack Mirwaiz’s House, Shoot and Hurt His Uncle in Mosque,” The Asian Age, May 29, 2004, [online] (retrieved September 3, 2004).

567 Human Rights Watch interview with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Srinagar, October 13, 2004.

568Human Rights Watch interview with Ayesha Sheikh, victim’s wife, Chewpora, Budgam, October 15, 2004.

569Human Rights Watch interview with Ayesha Begum, Budgam, October 15, 2004.

570 Human Rights Watch interview with Ghulam Mohammad Tantray, uncle of victim, Baramulla, August 4, 2005.

571 Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, “Recovery of explosive materials from terrorists/militants in J & K,” Annual Report 2003-2004, Annexure IV, p. 144.

572 ICRC, Customary International Humanitarian Law, rule 1, citing Protocol II, Art. 13(2).

573 ICRC, Customary International Humanitarian Law, rules 11 & 12, citing Protocol II, Art. 13(2) and other sources.

574 South Asia Terrorism Portal, “Explosions in Jammu and Kashmir, 2005,” [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

575 South Asia Terrorism, “Explosions in Jammu and Kashmir, 2004,” [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006). According to the Indian army, as of March 2006, 6,214 antipersonnel and antitank mines, 36,900 kilograms of explosives, and 62,945 grenades had been recovered during operations. See “Captured Weapons as of August 16, 2005,” Indian Army, [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

576 “Police Kill ‘Varanasi Militant,’” BBC News, May 9, 2006, [online] 4753143.stm (retrieved May 16, 2006); “New Delhi Bomb Mastermind Arrested,” CNN, November 13, 2005, [online] (retrieved May 16, 2006).

577 Landmine Monitor 2005, [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

578 Human Rights Watch interview with Manzoor Ahmed, Pulwama, July 30, 2005.

579 “Deadly Blast Near Kashmir School,” BBC News, June 13, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

580Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Salam Thour, Pulwama, July 30, 2005.

581 In September 2005, the police claimed that Adil Pathan, a Pakistani national belonging to the Hizb-ul-Mujahedin whom they alleged was the mastermind of the Pulwama attack, was killed in an armed encounter in Pulwama. See “SPO, 2 Hizb Militants Shot,” The Tribune (Chandigarh),  September 4, 2005, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

582 See also Informative Missive, April 2004. Aasia Jeelani worked closely with the Public Commission on Human Rights and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons. She also started Voices Unheard, a quarterly report on the effect of the conflict on women in Jammu and Kashmir state.

583See Landmine Monitor 2005, [online] (retrieved March 13, 2006).

584 “Mufti Sayeed Escapes Grenade Attack,” The Tribune (Chandigarh), February 27, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

585 Human Rights Watch interview with Hasina Ayub, Budam, October 13, 2004.  According to the International Center for Peace Initiatives, at least 14,000 women have been widowed and 17,500 children orphaned in Kashmir due to the violence. International Center for Peace Initiatives, “Cost of Conflict Between India and Pakistan,” 2004, p. 62.

586 Protocol II, Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, 8 June 1977, Art. 13(3).

587 Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which applies during non-international armed conflicts, prohibits states and non-state armed groups from recruiting or using children under the age of fifteen in armed conflict.

588 ICRC, Customary International Humanitarian Law, rule 136, and discussion at pp. 484-85.

589Convention on the Rights of the Child, General Assembly Resolution 44/25, November 20, 1989, [online] (retrieved April 20, 2006).

590CRC Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict, A/RES/54/262, entered into force February 12, 2002, [online] (retrieved April 12, 2006). India ratified the Protocol on November 30, 2005.

591International Center for Peace Initiatives, “Cost of Conflict Between India and Pakistan,” p. 68.

592 “105-Year-Old Kashmir School Burns Down,” The Associated Press, July 5, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

593 Human Rights Watch considers a child to be any human being below the age of eighteen years.

594 “14 Hurt As Militants Target School On I-day In Kashmir,” The Deccan Herald, August 16, 2004, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

595 “8-Year-Old Killed In School Blast,” The Times of India, March 18, 2005, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

596 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Srinagar, July 29, 2005.

597 “Ultras Using Children, Mentally Challenged People: Army,” Press Trust of India, August 12, 2005, [online] (retrieved August 16, 2005).

598 Human Rights Watch interview, details withheld.

599 During interviews with Human Rights Watch, parents repeatedly said that they feared that their teenage sons would run away to join the militants. With education systems troubled because of the violence, this is particularly true of students who fail examinations and decide to take up militancy as a career option. Parents also complained of indoctrination in mosques and by older militants.

600South Asia Terrorism Portal, “Abductions by Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir,” [online] (retrieved April12, 2006).

601 Human Rights Watch interview, names withheld, Gandherbal, October 12, 2004.

602 See Praveen Swami, “Jehad’s Child Warriors,” Frontline, September 27-October 10, 2003, [online] (retrieved March 2, 2004).

603 Prakriiti Gupta, “Child Warriors of Kashmir,” Women’s Feature Service, November 20, 2005, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).

604 “Army Grappling With Child Warriors in J&K,” Indo-Asian News Service, August 1, 2004, [online] (retrieved September 3, 2004).

605 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad Abdullah Khanday, lawyer, Srinagar, October 11, 2004.

606 Mir Ehsan and Majid Jahangir, “Four Shot in Kupwara, Village Blames Army,” The Indian Express, February 23, 2006, [online] (retrieved April 13, 2006).