318 Children Killed in 15 Years of Kashmir Strife, Not A single Conviction
Basit Zargar photographs what is left of a house after an encounter
SRINAGAR: At least 318 children have been killed in last one and half decade of turmoil but the alleged perpetrators were not held accountable even in a single case, exposing the ‘systemic’ rot in the system of justice and accountability in the violence-wracked Kashmir.
For the first time, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a human rights group which has extensively researched cases of rights abuses in the turmoil-hit state, has documented cases of violence against children in the age group of one year to 17 years since 2003.
“No one among the perpetrators of these heinous crimes has been brought to justice till date,” the report titled ‘Terrorized: Impact of Violence on the Children of Jammu and Kashmir’ which was released by the JKCCS today, states.
The report, which contains data on arrests, mass violence, killings and sexual violence, blames the authorities for “targeted violence” against children who “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,” it states.
The report says at least 144 children were killed allegedly by Indian armed forces and state police in the state, accounting for nearly half of the total children killed. “At least 110 of them were shot dead in different incidents of violence, and not less than eight children died due to injuries inflicted from pellet shot-guns fired by government forces,” the report says.
However, there is no information in the report about the rest of the killings.
According to JKCCS data, 27 children died due to drowning either caused due to the negligence of armed forces in Wular lake tragedy or being chased by government forces during a protest, where victims find no way of escape from the armed forces and forced to jump into water bodies, resulting in their death.
The rights group alleges 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).”
The JKCCS said the children in J&K live in “the 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 killing of 318 children documented by the JKCCS constitute nearly seven percent of the civilian killings in last fifteen years. According to data, 4571 civilians were killed in the state during the same period.
“From 2003 to 2017, at least 16,436 killings were recorded in J&K, and the majority of them included alleged militants numbering at least 8537 killings. The numbers indicate that in the last fifteen years Jammu and Kashmir in an average year has witnessed at least 1,095 killings, which belies the government’s claims of ‘return to normalcy’,” the report states.
(Photographs: one militant killed in Daligram Anantnag encounter, one captured alive)