Behind the Kashmir Conflict: Abuses by Indian Security Forces and Militant Groups Continue
Kashmir Updates - HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH - July, 1999
Torture has been used routinely by all the security forces operating in Kashmir. Although the problem is widely known to the authorities in Srinagar and New Delhi, neither has ever made any serious effort to curb it.
When questioned, officials frequently respond that they have no other alternative to deal with terrorists who do not respect the law. Torture is used to extract information, to punish detainees and to try to force detainees to become informers or to join countermilitant organizations. It is also used to extort money from the victim’s family. The choice of certain forms of torture appears to be indiscriminate; while some detainees are subjected to a range of brutal torture techniques for no obvious reason, others may be subjected solely to beatings.
The most common forms of torture include severe beatings and electric shock. Detainees have also had their legs stretched apart, have been suspended from the wrists or upside down for extended periods, which can lead toparalysis, and have had an iron rod coated with chili paste inserted into the rectum. According to local doctors, this last can cause serious injury and infection when, as a result of pushing, the rod ruptures the bladder.
One of the most insidious forms of torture is the use of a heavy log or roller to apply excruciating pressure to the detainee’s legs. The roller is rotated over the victim’s legs, sometimes weighed down by a number of policemen who sit or stand on it. The practice has been widely used by police in India, notably in Punjab. Extensive use of the roller frequently leads to kidney damage. Severe beatings may also induce kidney failure, as can electric shock because the contractions caused by the shocks as well as the trauma, which leads the muscles to release toxins that the kidneys cannot handle in large quantities. The risk of permanent injury is exacerbated by the fact that the victims are often denied water during interrogation and frequently become dehydrated. Since the conflict began in 1990, doctors in Kashmir have documented hundreds of cases of torture-induced renal failure in Kashmir.