Kashmiris have accused security forces of beating and torture after a government decision to end state sovereignty in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Several villagers told the BBC that they were hit with sticks and heavy wires and given electric shocks.
Many villagers have also shown their wounds. The BBC, however, could not confirm the allegations by authorities.
The Indian Army has termed the allegations as baseless and baseless.
Strict sanctions have pushed India-administered Kashmir into a lockdown situation for more than three weeks, and insider information is barely there after the abolition of Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.
Thousands of additional troops have been deployed in the region and are reported to have detained around 3000 people, including political leaders, businessmen and activists. Many have been shifted to prisons outside the state.
Authorities say the measures are of a protective nature and have been taken to maintain law and order in the area. Jammu and Kashmir was the only Muslim-majority state in India, but it is now divided into two separate divisions that will be federally governed.
The Indian Army has been facing separatist struggle for more than three decades. India has alleged that it is torturing Pakistan through militant backing in the region, but its neighboring country, which occupies a part of Kashmir, denies the allegation.
Many people in India have supported the abolition of Article 370 and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “fearless” decision. India’s mainstream media has also strongly supported this decision.
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I visited about half a dozen villages in the southern districts of Kashmir, India. These are the areas that have been considered the stronghold of anti-Indian militancy for the past few years. I have heard stories from raids, beatings and similar stories all night in these villages.
Doctors and health officials do not want to talk to reporters about any patient, no matter what the disease. But the villagers have shown me their wounds and blamed them on the security forces.
Villagers in one village say the army returned home just hours after India’s controversial decision to end special arrangements between Kashmir and Delhi, administered by the army.
The two brothers alleged that they were awakened and taken to an area where about a dozen other men were gathered in their village. Like everyone we meet, these people were terrified of the dire consequences when their identities were disclosed.
One of them said, ‘They killed us. We kept asking them, ‘What have we done? You ask the villagers if we did something wrong? “But they didn’t want to hear anything and they didn’t say anything, they just kept hitting us.”
‘They targeted every part of my body. They kicked us, hit us with poles, gave us electric shocks, beaten us with wires. They hit us on the back of the legs. When we were unconscious, they gave us electric shocks to bring us to consciousness. When they hit us with poles and we screamed, they filled our mouths with ashes.
“We told them we were innocent. We asked them why they were doing this. But they did not obey one of us. I told them not to torture us, just shoot us. Kill – I was praying to God for death because this violence was intolerable. ‘
Another young villager said security personnel kept saying, ‘Tell me the names of the rockets.’ He was referring to the youth and young boys who have been facing urban protests in Kashmir Valley for the past decade. ‘
He said he told the soldiers they didn’t know anyone, who was asked to remove glasses, clothes and shoes.
‘When I took off the clothes, they brutally beat me with poles and rods for about two hours. When I became unconscious, they gave me electric shocks to bring me to consciousness. ‘
He said, ‘If they do that to me again, I’m ready to do anything. I’ll pick up a gun. I can’t bear it every day. “
The young man added that the soldiers told everyone in the village to warn them that if anyone else participated in the demonstration against the forces, they would face similar consequences.
Whoever we spoke to in all villages, they believe that security forces did this to intimidate villagers so that they would not be afraid to protest.
In a statement to the BBC, the Indian Army said “contrary to these allegations, it did not torture any civilian.”
“No charges of this nature have been brought under our jurisdiction,” Army spokesman Colonel Aman Anand said. These charges are likely exacerbated by elements of hostility. ‘
He added that measures have been taken to protect civilians, but ‘no military casualties have resulted in any injuries or casualties.’
We went through several villages where most of the residents had a soft attitude with separatist pro-militant groups and called them ‘freedom fighters’.
A district is located in this part of Indian-administered Kashmir where more than 40 Indian soldiers were killed in the February suicide attack and Pakistan and India were set on the brink of war.
This is the region where famous Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani was killed in 2016, after which many young and angry Kashmiris took part in the resistance against India.
There is a military camp in the area, and soldiers regularly raid here to track down militants and their sympathizers, but villagers say they are often trapped between them.
In one of the villages, I met a man in his 20s who said that the army had threatened him that he would be trapped if he did not report to the militants. He alleged that he was tortured so badly that he could not lie with his waist after two weeks.
“If this continues, I will have no choice but to leave my house,” he said. They kill us like animals are killed. They do not consider us human. ‘
Another person who showed us his wounds said that “15 to 16 soldiers” knocked him to the ground and were badly hurt by ‘wires, guns, poles and perhaps steel rods.
‘I was half unconscious. They pulled my beard so badly that I felt like my teeth would fall out. ‘
He said one boy witnessing the violence told him that one soldier tried to burn a beard but another soldier stopped it.
In another village, I met another young man who said that his brother had joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the largest group fighting against the Indian government over Kashmir two years ago.
He said they were recently interrogated at a military camp where they alleged they had been tortured and a leg was amputated.
They say, ‘They tied my hands and hung upside down. They hurt me for more than two hours. “
But the Indian Army denies all these allegations.
In a statement to the BBC, he said that he was ‘a professional body that understands and respects human rights’ and that all allegations are ‘promptly investigated’.
The statement further said that out of the 37 cases that the National Commission for Human Rights (NHRC) has taken in the last five years, 20 were unfounded, 15 were under investigation and ‘the investigation of the allegations in only three cases. Were done “Those found guilty are punished,” the statement said.
But in a report released by two prominent human rights organizations earlier this year, hundreds of alleged human rights abuses have been registered in the Indian-administered Kashmir over the past three decades.
The UN Human Rights Commission has also demanded the formation of an inquiry commission for a comprehensive and independent international inquiry into allegations of human rights abuses in Indian-administered Kashmir. It has also released a 49-page report on alleged abuse by security forces in the region.
India has rejected the allegations and this report.
What is happening in Kashmir?
Kashmir is an Himalayan region in which India and Pakistan are fully involved, but it has some part in the management of both countries. There has been two wars and a limited armed conflict on Kashmir between the two countries.
Until now, the state-administered Jammu and Kashmir had partial sovereignty under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
On August 5, the Indian government abolished Article 370. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) believe that Kashmir should be given the same status as other parts of the country.
Lockdown has been going on in Indian-administered Kashmir since then, though there have been some big demonstrations which have taken a violent turn.
Pakistan has expressed indignation and called on the international community to intervene.