As reported by the Guardian on 23rd Oct, clinical psychologists in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir(IOJ&K) are worried about increase in patients experiencing anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and heart ailments. Several patients said they were living in fear “of army raids, tortures and arrests”. People who had previously learned to manage their mental health conditions were now experiencing a relapse. Every day more than 170 patients visit the four-room psychiatry clinic – the only one serving the Shopian and Pulwama districts of South Kashmir. It is likely that far greater numbers need treatment, but many patients cannot reach the hospital because there is no public transport.

According to a 2015 survey by Médecins Sans Frontières, nearly 1.8 million adults in Kashmir – 45% of the population – had shown symptoms of mental distress. More than 41% of the population showed signs of depression, 26% signs of anxiety and 19% showed probable symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The fragile situation in Kashmir has severely affected women, who have fewer opportunities to venture outside. Paranoia and phobic anxiety are some of the increasing trends in women.

Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Laws clearly prohibit following in conflict zones as well as during peace time law and order management.

(a) Summary or extrajudicial executions and the mistreatment of detained persons.

(b) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture;

(c) Abductions and taking of hostages;

(d) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(e) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

International human rights laws prohibit the arbitrary deprivation of life and, at all times, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment:

(a) Rape and Other Sexual Violence.

(b) Attacks on Civilians and Civilian Objects

(c) Forced Displacement

(d) Similarly prohibited is the mass relocation or displacement of civilians for the purpose of removing an ethnic group deemed friendly to an armed opposition group.

(e) Collective Punishment and Reprisals

If we look at the above list of gross Human Rights violations and code of conduct of International Humanitarian law, India is guilty of all of the above, unfortunately International community has only paid lip service; even Pakistan, who claims to be the advocate of Kashmiris, has not perused these violations in international legal forums.

Why does India think, she can get away with these gross human rights violations?

It may be interesting to have a look at Israel and why it has gotten away with these violations. Israeli model of ‘mass torture of Palestinians’ may be an eye opener for Pakistan and Kashmiris because Modi’s friendship with Netanyahu and similarities in methods of collective torture point to one thing, India is copying Israeli model to suppress the Kashmiris.

Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Resource Centre is a Swedish based NGO who published a report of collective torture of Palestinian population in October 2016 with the title Guilty by Association, Israel’s collective punishment policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Important extracts from the reports are penned below with annotations to compare these with what Indian Occupation forces are doing in occupied Kashmir:

Indiscriminate targeting by Israeli force of different portions of the OPT population can be grouped into a number of different categories. These categories include: a) Measures restricting freedom of movement and enhancing OPT fragmentation; b) Measures amounting to excessive use of force; and c) Measures negatively affecting the Palestinian economy and long-term OPT development.

Israel has resorted to blockade of OPT through a systematic and sustained campaign and established checkpoints and concrete roadblocks at entrances to neighborhoods of large cities, as well as on internal community roads, severely disrupting the lives of millions of Palestinian residents. These measures, which indiscriminately target large segments of the Palestinian population without evidence of any direct links with the commission of attacks, negatively and disproportionately affected a number of basic rights, including freedom of movement and the right of access to adequate health care, as well as the right to an adequate standard of living.

By impairing the possibility for many Palestinians to freely move and reach their places of work, these measures also produced negative impacts on the Jerusalem and overall Palestinian economy, as well as diminishing employment opportunities within East Jerusalem. Israeli forces also resorted to isolating and sealing off entire Palestinian villages and towns.

Israel has also used indiscriminate force by treating entire densely populated areas as one single military object instead of distinguishing between civilians and combatants in each of the incidents occurring in affected areas. These operations may qualify as direct attacks against civilians or civilian objects and thereby amount to war crimes .

The siege and naval blockade of the Gaza Strip should be understood in the context of increasingly restrictive economic and political measures imposed by Israel over the OPT. These measures have devastatingly impacted the whole Gaza Strip population’s living standards. In particular, the Gaza siege and naval blockade comprises a combination of measures imposed by Israel that include: the closure (partial or total) of border crossings (for people, goods and services, including the provision of fuel and electricity), curtailing permitted offshore fishing zones and imposition of access restricted areas within Gaza Strip territory adjacent to its land boundaries with Israel.

The UN Secretary General, during a 2016 visit to the Gaza Strip, noted how “the closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts. It is a collective punishment for which there must be accountability.

If we closely look at Indian moves and strategy in Occupied Kashmir, it is a ditto copy of Israeli tactics and strategy. Kashmir lockdown is now completing almost three months and symbolizes Indian policy of wholesale suppression of Muslim population. This lockdown has virtually suffocated Kashmiri people, destroyed their livelihood, and impeded any economic progress. Indian military operations within occupied Kashmir have resorted to use of heavy caliber weapons like artillery, gunship helicopters and high caliber machine guns as well as demolition explosives to blow up civilian houses.

The psychological cost of Indian oppression of Kashmiris cannot be measured in term of mathematical figures but it constitutes a solid case for prosecution of India in any International legal forum. Pakistan should launch an international legal campaign through a team of legal experts and expose Indian War crimes to international community.