December 21, 2023
Poonch, Indian-occupied Kashmir.
After Kashmiri rebels launched an attack against the Indian army on December 21, killing 5 Indian soldiers and wounding 2 in district Poonch, the Indian army went on a rampage in the local area, detaining atleast 8 villagers for questioning. The incident once again reveals the machinations of India’s brutal occupation, which relies on torture and custodial killings. Unable to stop Kashmiri’s armed resistance, the Indian army takes its anger out on the local population.
indian army searched the town and residential areas in Poonch. Video source: Twitter.
Five of villagers were in critical condition after the torture and were shifted to the Indian army hospital. “My two brothers and a cousin are badly hurt due to torture. They are being treated in an army hospital”, says a local. Indian soldiers took a video of themselves pouring red chili on the extensively bruised backs and buttocks of the men they just murdered. The men are seen pleading for their lives.
“They were given electric shocks and chili powder was inserted in their private parts, no questions were asked to them,” a daughter of one of the detainees said. The video went viral across Kashmir triggering widespread outrage. In response, India cut out all internet services across Poonch and parts of Rajouri, a common tactic used by the Indian occupation to cover up their atrocities and suppress resistance from the people.
***Trigger warning: graphic torture and physical & sexual abuse***
One of the men seen in the video, Safeer, has a brother who is a head constable in India’s Border Security Force. He claimed that his brother had assisted the army in counter-insurgency operations, while another man who was killed had served as a porter for the Indian army. The three men were from the marginalized tribal Gujjar-Bakerwal community. Villagers are unable to visit the three families to pay condolences because their homes have been cordoned off by the army (The Wire).
This is not the first time the Indian army has taken its revenge against a local population. In 2020, the Indian army killed three young men in a staged gun battle in Rajouri and later portrayed them as “Pakistani terrorists”. However, after further police investigation, the Indian military had to acknowledge its custodial killings and wrongdoings, which exceeded their rights to impunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. India’s internal army court had sentenced one of the officers to life imprisonment for the murders, but a military tribunal in November suspended his sentence altogether.
The Armed Forces Special Powers Act is law that gives the Indian army powers to search, seize and shoot suspects on sight with complete impunity. Indian-occupied Kashmir is the most militarized zone on Earth and naturally, the higher the number of armed personnel yielding special powers, the more the instances of abuse. These include extrajudicial killings, rapes, enforced disappearances, fake encounters, destruction of property, and use of human shields, to name a few.
According to AlJazeera, “the Indian army on Saturday said an investigation was under way into the incident. It did not give any details about the detention and death. The families of the victims have told Al Jazeera that the [indian] government’s offer of jobs and compensation points to the potential role of the army in the killing of the three Kashmiri men”.
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