India using afspa to avoid action against forces: State dept

Srinagar, July 07, 2015 (PPI-OT): Indian authorities are using Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to avoid holding its armed forces accountable for accusations of human rights abuses, said a report published by the US State Department. The report says that Indian authorities and their agents are committing arbitrary or unlawful killings including extra judicial killings in Jammu and Kashmir.

The 68-page document quoting NGOs says that due to immunity provisions of the black law Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the armed forces are not held responsible for the deaths of civilians killed in Kashmir. It points out that the authorities have failed to prosecute or conduct impartial investigations of these deaths.

About the Public Safety Act, the report says, the law applies only in Jammu and Kashmir, and it permits authorities to detain persons without charge or judicial review for as long as two years without visitation from family members. The report maintains that the authorities deny permits to Hurriyet organizations to hold public gatherings, and Indian forces detain and assault members engaged in peaceful protests.

The document quotes human rights groups and says that military and paramilitary, and insurgent forces abduct numerous persons and prisoners are tortured or killed during detention. The report also mentions the difficulties facing human rights monitors in Jammu and Kashmir saying that they are harassed and restrained by armed forces and police.

The document, released on June 25 said: “There were no official records available of enforcement actions or human rights abuses by security forces under the AFSPA during the year.” “The law also provides security forces immunity from civilian prosecution for acts committed in regions under the AFSPA,” the State Department noted in its ‘Executive Summary’ of ‘India 2014 Human Rights Report.’

The report, which is compiled by Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, said J and K’s human rights commission “does not have the authority to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by members of paramilitary forces.” It says that Kashmiris have to face extended delays, sometimes as long as two years, for issuance or renewal of passports.

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