Kashmiris Call for Investigation of Torture Accusations Against India – Smart Media Magazine

Kashmiris Call for Investigation of Torture Accusations Against India

RAWALPORA, Kashmir — Mohammad Ishaq Lone got a call from the Indian Army one February night, ordering him to meet soldiers at an outpost near his house in Kashmir. It was only after he was hauled off to a brightly lit room, bound and beaten that he discovered why.

A soldier began by punching him in the face, drawing blood, Mr. Lone said. Another smacked him with a metal rod and began demanding that he disclose the whereabouts of his brother, who had left home months earlier to join militants waging a campaign to separate Kashmir from Indian rule.

Mr. Lone, a pharmacist with two young children, begged them to stop, saying he did not know where his brother had gone. He recalled screaming for help before losing consciousness.

“The world around me was collapsing,” he said.

As tensions with the Indian authorities in Kashmir have sharply increased, Kashmiris are calling for an international investigation into accounts of abuse and torture by the security forces.

“The moment I touched it, some of my tortured and numb fingers fell to the ground,” said Mr. Sheikh, who also lost both legs below the kneecap and was forced to beg for money to survive after the ordeal. “A torture chamber is like a dark well where you cry out loud and no one hears your voice.”

The police have denied his claim and accused him of attempting to kill himself.

“I feel the knife in my dreams, slitting my throat again and again,” he said in an interview, writing his answers on a piece of paper because his vocal cords were so damaged that he can no longer speak.

“I want to talk just once,” he wrote, tears rolling down his cheeks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, whose Bharatiya Janata Party won a resounding victory during national elections in May, has vowed to ease tensions in Kashmir.

But many worry that the government will further alienate locals by removing special protections that grant the population, which is majority Muslim, a certain degree of autonomy. Hostility toward the Indian security forces has only increased. Almost every day, life is disrupted by gun battles, bombings or street protests.

Mr. Lone, 39, who said he was tortured for more than two hours while being questioned by Indian soldiers in February, said peace was unlikely.

When Mr. Lone regained consciousness at the army camp in the village of Rawalpora, he said three soldiers standing on him stomped on his thighs, struck him with bamboo sticks and screamed at him to get up and walk. He could not manage even one step.

“It was as if someone was taking me to a butcher’s shop to have me chopped into small pieces,” he said.

Bloodied and exhausted, Mr. Lone passed out again. He woke up in a hospital bed surrounded by relatives, who had dragged him from the camp when the soldiers finished with him.

Several months later, Mr. Lone can barely stand for five minutes. He has trouble kneeling to pray. His brother, the militant, is still missing. He worries about his children, ages 8 and 12.

He said the cycle of violence showed no signs of letting up.

“Every morning is filled with fear,” he said. “How do you expect justice from one wing of the state when the other is inflicting pain on you? It is hell.”

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