Victim of aggression–the plight of Kashmiri Children in IOK

By Masroor Ahmad


Masroor Ahmad

In situations where armed conflicts break out, children are affected to the consequences of war more than anyone else is. The six most common violations are recruitment and use of children in war, killing, sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access. The children are living in a miserable plight in war-afflicted zones of Kashmir, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Congo, Afghanistan, and Burma etc.

On 19 August 1982, at its emergency special session on the question of Palestine, the General Assembly, “appalled at the great number of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese children victim of Israel’s acts of aggression”, decided to commemorate 4 June of each year as the International Day of Innocent Children victim of aggression. This move aimed at to highlight the sufferings of such children and to minimize their vulnerability through awareness. The purpose of the day is to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victim of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. This day affirms the UN’s commitment to protect the rights of children. Its work is guided by the convention of the rights of the child, the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir presents a very bleak picture which is one of the highly militarized zone in the world where thousands of Kashmiri children have been incarcerated. The human rights activists found around 13,000 boys who have been illegaly detained since its autonomous status was revoked on Aug 5 2019 and the pellet guns were used to hit the children by Indian occupant forces in the valley.

Heeba Jan became the youngest victim of pellet guns by Indian Army in (IoK). Heeba, a 19-month old child who suffered sever eye injuries after being hit by the pellet guns fight by security forces was emotionally and physically scared. The inhuman atrocities being committed by Indian Army in Kashmir has been well exposed to the whole world through press reports. There are many children who met the same treatment as did Heeba which reflects the severity of human rights abuses by Indian Army in IoJK particularly in the cases of minors.

The report, laid by the National Federation of Indian Women, detailed claims that over 13,000 young children some as young as 7 and 8 year olds were abducted and put into detention for up to 45 days by Indian Army after August 5, 2019. It also claimed that families were paying up to 60,000 rupees for their children’s release.

The report narrates the throbbing story of three boys including Farhan a 13-year-old boy who walked home along with two other boys when dusk was falling from the neighborhood mosque. Suddenly a police vehicle came to a stop next to them and armed officers jumped out in the August twilight. For the next week, Farhan’s family said, he was held in a jail cell at the local police station in this Kashmiri town ten miles out of Srinagar, part of a sweeping crackdown by Indian authorities in the wake of the government’s decision to strict Kashmir of its autonomy and statehood.

Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society 2018 report on Indian Army brutalities and killing of children also speaks volumes about the atrocities of state security forces on minors. Children in Jammu and Kashmir are living in most militarized zone of the world, with the presence of 7,00,000 troopers, which exposes them to the risk of all grave six violations against children as laid out in United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society examines the situation of children in the ongoing conflict in Jammu and Kashmir during the last 15 years–i.e 2003 to 2017. The report provides statistics, graphs, figures, and the analysis of killings of children in the last 15 years (2003 to 2017) in various incidents of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. With providing examples of targeted state violence against children, the report demonstrates that children have not been viewed differently by armed forces and have been targeted and victimized as part of the state’s offensive against the general population.

The fifteen-year period from 2003 to 2017, witnessed not less than 318 killing of children (in the age group  of 1 to17) in various incidents of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. The killing of the 318 children constitutes 6.95% of the civilian killings in last 15 years as 4571 civilians have been killed in Jammu and Kshmir in the same period (2003-2017). In the same period, i.e from 2003 to 2017, at least 16,436 killings were recorded in Jammu and Kashmir, and the majority of them included alleged militants numbering at least 8537 killings. The number indicates that in the last fifteen years Jammu and Kashmir in an average year has witnessed at least 1,095 killings, which belies the Indian government’s claims of ‘return to normalcy’.

Kavita Krishnan, a feminist activist in India and part of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society after visiting Kashmir told Deccan Herald that Government turned Kashmir into prison where a dictatorship prevails. According to her there were proofs of over 13,000 children being arrested and abducted by IOJK police and army after abrogation of article 370.

The activists of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society met people in villages all over Kashmir, where even little kids have been picked up from their homes in the middle of the night from their beds and they were held definitely, illegally, either in army camps or in police stations and brutally tortured. Their parents were nor ascertained whether their children will disappear or be returned. There is no case that is registered, no FIR. Such arrests were discovered in every village where the delegation went. Molestation of young boys and sexual abuse of girls during such raids is a common factor.

At least 144 children were killed by Indian armed forces and state police in Jammu and Kashmir, which alone accounts for nearly half, i.e 44.2%, of the total children killed. Most of the children, at least 110 of them, killed in state violence were shot dead in different incidents of violence, and not less than 8 children died due to injuries inflicted from pellet shot-guns fired by government forces. Twenty-seven children died due to drwoning either caused due to negligence of armed forces in Wular lake tragedy or being chased by forces during a protest, where victims find no way of escape from the armed forces and were forced to jump into water, resulting in their death. The report lays bare that there are no legal and normative processes or practices protecting children’s rights in Jammu and Kashmir as hundreds of minors have been booked under the repressive Public Safety Act (PSA), with total disregard to the fact of their being children. Farcically, Indian Chief of Defense Staff Bipin Rawat spoke of putting children as young as 10 years of age in isolation through deradicalisation detention camps’, which is against convention on rights of child.

India’s Non –Compliance with Convention on the Rights of Child should be noticed by the international community and needful measures be taken against this rogue state. IOJK is evidently facing all common violations and crimes against children including the denial of access to health care, denial of right to education, torture, the right to life and the right to survival.