Amnesty International on rare visit to Kashmir

May 20, 2010

Amnesty International member Ramesh Gopal Krishan meets Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of Kashmir's All Parties Hurriyat Conference, before a meeting in Srinagar May 18, 2010. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

New Delhi has allowed a team from rights watchdog Amnesty International to visit strife-torn Kashmir for the first time since an armed rebellion against Indian rule broke out over two decades ago.

The two-member team arrived earlier this week to assess the human rights situation in the region where officials say more than 47,000 people have been killed since 1989.

Local human rights groups put the toll at about 60,000 dead or missing.

Amnesty International has in the past reported on human rights violations in the disputed Himalayan region and accused both government forces and separatist rebels of abuses against
the people of Kashmir.

At least 209 Kashmiri Hindus, locally known as Pandits, have been killed and tens of thousands fled their ancestral homes since violence broke out in India’s only Muslim-majority region.

Government forces fighting insurgency in Kashmir have been accused by locals of killing innocent people in fake gun battles, passing them off as militants killed to earn cash rewards and medals.

The two members of the rights group — both Indian — met separatists, victims, pro-India politicians and Pundits in the region.

Kashmir’s hard line separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani said the human rights group should have sent “neutral individuals not those with Indian nationality.”

But moderate separatists welcomed the rare visit by Amnesty.

“We want that this organisation should bring out the real situation, make it clear and take a stand on the issue then,” Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said.

Though violence involving separatist militants and government troops has fallen considerably in Kashmir, sentiments against India still run deep.

But people are still killed in almost daily gun battles and near daily street protests in the last two years are giving new life to the separatist movement.

By allowing Amnesty International in Kashmir, is India lifting veil on a region where two-decades of unrest have brought untold misery?


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I think it is a very good sign that Amnesty has been allowed into Kashmir. For my part, I think they should have unhindered access to the region. Human rights infringements will take place, no matter what, the problem only becomes murkier when there is a cover up. That is the real crime. If such visits lead to curtailing human rights abuses, then they should be welcomed.

Just a note of caution, Amnesty itself, no matter how much it may portray itself as being impartial, is no angel either and needs to be seen as being balanced in its coverage. As long that happens, such visits should be encouraged.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Mr Geelani, let us not doubt thier natinaities. Amnesty International is a credible rights group and as writer correctly says has been reporting the abuses against kashmiris for a long time. I am sure these two people are not baised though they are indians.

Posted by drshugufta | Report as abusive

@ Sheikh Mushtaq. yes sir India is finally lifting veil on Kashmir by allowing Amnesty International. The situation has improved and time has come to look into all wrong doings in Kashmir. I am sure sanity will prevail soon on Indian and Pakistan and both countries will sit and end 20 years of pain in Kashmir.

Posted by drshugufta | Report as abusive

Amnesty international has lost all credibility after Geeta Sahgal episode. It is tool used by islamists to fool civil (read non-muslim) societies.

Posted by bharat14 | Report as abusive

Syed Ali Geelani, has expressed reservations over the team’s visit, maintaining that both the visiting members were Indian nationals who Geelani feared “would sacrifice truth for their national interest”.

let us wait and watch if AI team proves Geelani wrong

Posted by Imititaz | Report as abusive

The Amnesty visit to the valley for the first time I believe is not going to help in any way. With 24/7 media coverage of Kashmir happenings, it seems unlikey that Amnesty can bring any relief to the people of the state that has been in the middle of a conflict from past two decades. The reality in 2010 is that the people are still getting killed, the unrest is brewing with in and if the under current goes unnoticed, Kashmir may witness more mayhem.

Posted by Majid11 | Report as abusive

India is not lifting veil on Kashmir, but it is american pressue that has forces india to allow amnesty. Security forces have committed large scale human rights violations in this area and i hope they are exposed after Amnesty International files a report.

Posted by kashur123 | Report as abusive

Security forces have committed large scale human rights violations in this area …” Kashur 123

Quite right, and the militants of course have been innocent snow white angels who have raised people from the dead.

60,000 lives lost to militancy and not one human rights violation! Angels come to earth.

Don’t need an Amnesty report for hypocrisy to be exposed.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

in Kashmir, a soldier or constable has a right to kill anyone on mere suspicion, can blow anyone home under a terror law…that is called The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act Under these circumstances how is amnesty international going to help us……

Posted by haleema11 | Report as abusive

You are absolutely right, and i agree with you, Now Amnesty International should investigate 60,000 inocent lives killed by militants or renegades ( a force created and funded by Indian security agecies like CBI and Raw)

Posted by ajaz123 | Report as abusive

Just would like to ask Mr. Syed Ali Shah Geelani…Do you think Indian human rights experts are not neutral?

Posted by Buddha | Report as abusive

Yes Ajaz 123. Please read my initial comment where I have welcomed the move to let AI visit Kashmir. Rights violations, no matter by whom, must be exposed.

Are you saying that RAW has created militants and renegades also? I suppose the RAW and CBI also created the partition and the Kashmir problem and forced Ayub to declare war in 1965 and Bhutto to create conditions for the creation of Bangladesh and Kargil, Musharraf style, later and all the problems that Pakistan and Kashmir are facing, maybe also Iraq and Afghanistan while you are at it!! Aren’t RAW and the CBI almost as powerful as America and nature and God put together?

Rose tinted glasses wont help.It takes two to tango..

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

the access to human rights groups should not be governed by any country. at the first instant i would like to ask who is india that has to give access to such groups. Kashmir is an international dispute and should be open to uman right activists as the war crimes against kashmiris have been real cruel

Posted by true112 | Report as abusive