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Extreme Human Rights Abuses by Indian Army

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By S.O.S Kashmir

The rape in Delhi has shocked India. Has it really? Or was it the sight of thousands of young students, male and female, demonstrating on the streets and being assaulted by the police for daring to demonstrate that made some Indian citizens think seriously about the problem? As for the Congress government that has, like most of the opposition parties, tolerated this for decades, it was the bad publicity abroad that finally did the trick, but only as far as this case is concerned.

Rape takes place in police stations, in military barracks, in the streets and occasionally in some provincial parliaments. The feminist Communist parliamentarian Brinda Karat, who has long campaigned on the issue, pointed to the assault of a member of the Trinamool assembly by a male oppositionist on 11 December last year. ‘Women were not safe even inside the assembly,’ she said.

Legal activists in Kashmir and Manipur, occupied by the Indian Army, have produced report after report highlighting cases of women raped by soldiers. Response from the top brass: nil. In a country where the culture of rape is so embedded, only a determined effort on every level can change things. This will not happen if this case and others are forgotten.

In 2004, a group of middle-aged mothers were so enraged by the military raping their daughters and sisters that they organised a protest unique in the annals of the women’s movement. They gathered outside the Indian Army barracks, stripped, and held up a banner that read ‘Indian Army Rape Us.’ That image, too, shocked India, but nothing changed. Only a few weeks later another rape scandal erupted in Manipur. If the Indian state is incapable of defending its women, perhaps the world’s largest democracy should seriously consider a change of name. Rapeistan comes to mind.

Manipur District Map

I. Summary

It takes us a long time to raise our children. Then, when they grow up, they are shot. This cannot go on. We no longer want to look for our children in the morgue.

-Yumlembam Mema, women’s rights activist in Manipur

A woman is arrested at her home at night. The authorities provide her family a signed document acknowledging her arrest. The next morning, villagers find her bullet-ridden corpse some four kilometers away from her home. There are widespread protests following the woman’s death. Promises are made by the highest authorities of the country, and yet, after four years, justice remains undone. No one is punished for this crime.

This is the story of Thangjam Manorama Devi, a 32-year-old resident of India’s Manipur state. The paramilitary Assam Rifles suspected her of links to an underground separatist group and detained her on July 11, 2004. The soldiers raided her home in Bamon Kampu village a little after midnight, asking the family to wait outside while they questioned her. They then signed an “arrest memo,” an official acknowledgement of detention put in place to prevent “disappearances” and took her away. Her body was found outside a nearby village. She had been shot through the lower half of her body, raising suspicion that bullets had been used to hide evidence of rape.

Human rights violations by security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Manipur state have occurred with depressing regularity over the last five decades. Separatist militants have also committed widespread human rights abuses. According to the police, nearly 3,000 civilians have died in the conflict since 1990. At least 1,300 militants and nearly 1,000 members of the security forces have also been killed. According to unofficial sources, at least 20,000 people may have died due to violence since the conflict began in the 1950s. But Manipur, a small state of two million people, is tucked away in the country’s remote northeastern region. Not much that happens there makes the national news-unless it is a particularly brutal attack by militants.

However, the security forces’ clear role in Manaroma’s killing captured widespread media attention. Protests erupted in Manipur, while domestic and international human rights groups demanded an immediate investigation and the prosecution of those responsible. Concerned that the government would fail to hold soldiers accountable for the killing, as had repeatedly been the case in the past, for several weeks Manipuris took to the streets. Students, lawyers, traders, mothers, journalists, and human rights activists marched every day, demanding justice. One man committed self-immolation in protest, several others attempted suicide.

The paramilitary Assam Rifles claimed that Manorama was shot dead while trying to escape. In later affidavits, the soldiers implicated said that she was helping the army locate another militant when she instead tried to escape. It is a difficult account to accept: an unarmed, handcuffed woman, wearing the tightly-bound Manipuri sarong that does not lend itself to big strides, supposedly managed to escape the custody of an armed escort. And if she did, it does not explain why the soldiers were unable to catch her and had to shoot to kill. There has also been no explanation why Manorama had not been handed over to police custody by the arresting officials of the Assam Rifles, as the law requires. Or why no female official had been brought in at the time of this night arrest, as is the rule.

Soldiers were able to arrest Manorama because they are empowered to do so under India’s Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), the 1958 emergency law under which the armed forces are deployed in internal conflicts and enjoy broad powers to arrest, search, and shoot to kill. This 50-year-old law also provides security forces immunity from prosecution and has thus protected members of the Assam Rifles-as well as soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir, and other states in India’s northeast-responsible for killings such as Manorama’s from being brought before a civilian judge to be prosecuted for murder and other offenses.

Manipuris have long campaigned for the repeal of the AFSPA. Demanding that the act be scrapped, human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila has been on hunger strike for nearly eight years. Her protest began after Assam Rifles gunned down ten civilians on November 2, 2000. She remains in judicially ordered custody, force-fed through a nasal tube.


Sharmila has been on hunger strike to demand a repeal of the AFSPA since November 2000. © 2007 AFP/Getty Images

After Manorama’s killing, 32 organizations formed a network called Apunba Lup in a campaign to repeal the AFSPA. The most heart-wrenching protest was by a group of Manipuri women, members of the Meira Paibi (“torch bearers”), who on July 15, 2004 stripped naked in front of the Assam Rifles camp in the state capital, Imphal, wrapped in a banner that said, “Indian Army Rape Us.”

Forced to respond, the state government of Manipur ordered a judicial enquiry by retired district judge C. Upendra Singh. Judge Upendra Singh submitted his report in November 2004. Almost four years later, the report is yet to be made public. As court proceedings continue, no action has been taken.


Women protest the killing and alleged rape of Thangjam Manorama Devi with a banner reading “Indian Army Rape Us” at the army headquarters in Imphal in July 2004. © 2004 AFP/Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meanwhile promised justice in the Manorama case and a review of the AFSPA. In November 2004, he set up a committee headed by B.P. Jeevan Reddy, a retired judge of the Supreme Court. The report was submitted in June 2005. While the Jeevan Reddy committee report has also not been made public, the contents were leaked, and it is now known that the committee recommended repeal of the AFSPA. The report however remains with the cabinet in New Delhi for consideration, and no action has been taken.

In the Manorama case, Assam Rifles said that it ordered an internal inquiry. The army and paramilitaries never reveal the findings of internal inquiries, and thus it remains unknown if any member of the Assam Rifles was found responsible for Manorama’s killing and whether they were appropriately punished. Making a concession to public outrage, the defense ministry did release a statement on July 28, 2004 saying only that the court of inquiry had found some “lapses” by Assam Rifles personnel. In an interview with Human Rights Watch, a spokesman for the Assam Rifles said he could not say what action was taken by the court of inquiry “because the concerned officials from that time are no longer in Manipur and the records are not available.”

Meanwhile, Manorama’s family is still waiting for justice to be done. It may be a long wait. Political leaders and government officials may privately agree that Manorama’s killing was unlawful, but the Indian state has failed, yet again, to hold soldiers responsible for a serious human rights violation accountable.


Shrine in memory of Thangjam Manorama Devi outside her house. © 2008 Human Rights Watch

Continuing Security Force Abuses

After Manorama’s death, the security forces appeared to curtail their human rights violations. This did not last long. Since 2006, extrajudicial killings, torture, and other abuses have once again become common practice. According to Human Rights Alert, an Imphal-based voluntary group, in 2006 there were 17 cases in which security forces allegedly extrajudicially executed civilians; in 2007, 12 cases were documented by the group; and as of July 2008, at least 23 such cases had been listed.

For this report, Human Rights Watch investigated several cases of alleged extrajudicial killings committed by the security forces since 2006. In one case, Mohammad Ayub Khan and six others, traveling in a van, were stopped during a routine check by the 19th Assam Rifles on August 26, 2007 at Gwaltabi in Ukhrul district. The soldiers found that Ayub Khan, a mason, was carrying a large sum of money. He explained that this was cash to pay his workers. The soldiers insisted that the van, with all its passengers, be driven to the Assam Rifles camp at Litan. At the camp, Ayub Khan was separated from his co-passengers, who were released. When Ayub Khan’s family heard of the detention, they went to the camp but were not allowed to enter. His brother filed a missing person complaint at the Litan police station, saying that Ayub Khan was last seen in the custody of the 19th Assam Rifles.

On August 30, 2007, the Litan police contacted the family. They said that the Assam Rifles had informed the police that a person had been killed in an armed encounter. They suggested that the family check to see if the unidentified person was their missing relative. The family identified the person as Ayub Khan. The Assam Rifles issued a statement claiming that a suspected militant had been shot in an armed exchange and weapons had been recovered from him. Ayub Khan’s father, Mohammad Karimuddin, told Human Rights Watch that the Assam Rifles are lying:

How can there be an armed encounter with someone who is already in custody? There are witnesses who saw my son being detained. If they [Assam Rifles] thought my son was a militant, they could have arrested him. But they only wanted his money and did not want the truth to come out. So they killed him. They know that no one questions the army in Manipur.

Police Abuses

The behavior of the army appears to have encouraged the Manipur state police to act similarly. The culture of violence has become so deep-rooted that the police have in recent years committed the same abuses as the army and paramilitary forces. In several of the recent cases documented by Human Rights Watch, the alleged perpetrators belonged to the Manipur police. The Manipur state police chief, Yumnam Joykumar Singh, told Human Rights Watch: “My people have been told not to commit human rights abuses and none has occurred.” However, in the same conversation claiming that many of the militants were not political fighters but petty extortionists, he also said, “I have told my people. These fellows must be eliminated. Nothing else can cure us of this disease.”

The message to eliminate militants seems to have resonated with the police. Human Rights Watch was repeatedly told that police commandos were among the worst human rights violators in Manipur. Leitanthem Premananda was picked up on January 30, 2006 and, according to relatives, executed later that same day. Together with their neighbors and friends, the relatives formed an action committee to protest the killing; the police threatened retribution. On February 10, 2006, two leaders of the protest committee, Pechimayum Yaima Singh and Leikapokpam Bisashini, were arrested by the Manipur police. Pechimayum Yaima Singh remained in custody for two months. “My family was very worried,” he said. “Finally, we were released. But we had to promise that we stop the protests, and were threatened that we would be arrested again if we followed up on this case.”

Abujam Shidam, a well-known member of the opposition Manipur People’s Party, was arrested on January 7, 2008. While in custody, he says he was tortured by police commandos claiming to be members of a joint interrogation cell.

I was blindfolded. They started beating and kicking me, saying that I must admit I was a member of the PLA [militant group called People’s Liberation Army]. They filled buckets of water and poured it on my face. They pressed on my joints with their boots. I kept shouting that I was not a militant, but they would not stop.

While the legal impunity under the AFSPA does not formally extend to the state police, police commandos now routinely get away with serious crimes including torture, and fake “encounter killings.” As one activist described it to Human Rights Watch, “The long-term pernicious influence of the AFSPA on Manipur society is its trickle-down effect. One can argue that the rampant corruption in civil administration is a fallout of the climate of impunity generated for many decades by AFSPA in Manipur.”

Armed Groups

Indian officials and many Manipuris point out that the armed groups, commonly called “UGs” (short for “underground”), also commit serious human rights abuses. Some of these groups have a tremendous hold over Manipuri society, with ordinary citizens forced to build alliances with one group to ensure protection from the rest. Many impose a variety of diktats, including a ban on some television channels, on women wearing western clothes, the use of drugs, tobacco, or alcohol and implement such orders with force. Some groups have been responsible for attacks on ethnic minorities. For example, in March 2008, militants killed 14 migrant laborers from other Indian states and left behind a note warning others to leave Manipur. In January 2006, armed cadres belonging to United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and Kangleipak Community Party (KCP) allegedly raped 21 Hmar tribal girls in Manipur’s Churachandpur district. Militants have also been responsible for the indiscriminate use of landmines, bombs, political killings, and attacks upon those they consider to be informers or traitors.

Manipuris complain most about militant groups’ culture of extortion. The state is unable to provide protection from these extortion demands-in fact, many government officials pay themselves. Recently, there has been a spate of abductions by militant groups to recruit children into armed groups involved in fighting. At least 24 school children were reported missing in June and July 2008, leading to widespread protests. One faction of the militant group People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) admitted that that they had recruited some of the missing children.


Protest against attack by militants in Imphal, the capital of Manipur. © 2008 Human Rights Watch

Impunity

Manipuri activists do not dispute the need for strong law enforcement to end the violence perpetrated by militants. Some want the army to remain deployed to combat the UGs, while others want the army withdrawn. But all want the AFSPA to be repealed because of the open license it provides for abuses.

More fundamentally, Manipuris want the culture of impunity to end. Not only has the failure to punish Manorama’s killers shattered any existing faith in the justice system, many Manipuris feel it has also emboldened security officials to take the law into their own hands and to believe they can get away with murder. As one government official admitted to Human Rights Watch, “Known criminals are sometimes killed, but it never happens to innocents.” In this way the security forces have become judge, jury, and executioner-and have become comfortable in adopting this role.

The more or less free rein given to government forces for decades in Manipur and other parts of the northeast has had a significant impact on the country generally. Similar polcies have since been adopted to stamp out armed separatist movements in various other parts of India. Some argue that this is the only way to ensure that separatists who they “know” are guilty do not evade justice. But in the world’s largest democracy, many in the security forces appear to believe it is easier to kill suspects than to gather evidence to secure convictions, while others kill for money or promotions, as they are often rewarded for their actions.

The Indian government, while claiming a firm commitment to the protection of human rights, has consistently ignored violations by its security forces, at best attributing such acts to a few “bad apples.” As this report demonstrates, however, the problems are systemic and require systemic changes in law, policy, and practice. And even assuming the problem is “bad apples,” they are rarely investigated, let alone tried and convicted. This culture of impunity, fostered both by a lack of political will and by laws shielding the perpetrators, has led to an atmosphere where security forces believe they can get away with the most serious crimes without the threat of punishment.

Not only has the Indian government disregarded the demands of Manipuris and the findings of its own government-appointed committees, it has ignored concerns and recommendations by United Nations human rights bodies. For example, in 1997 the UN Human Rights Committee said that the continued use of the AFSPA in Manipur was tantamount to using emergency powers and recommended that the application of these powers be monitored to ensure compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Philip Alston, reported to the UN Human Rights Council in 2007 that despite the government of Manipur ordering “numerous inquiries into the alleged extrajudicial executions, none of them ultimately reached any meaningful conclusions.” In 2007 the Committee on the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination called for India to repeal the AFSPA and to replace it “by a more humane Act” in accordance with the recommendation contained in the leaked Jeevan Reddy committee report. The Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in February 2007 urged India to provide information on the steps being taken to abolish or reform the AFSPA and to ensure serious investigations and prosecutions of acts of violence against women by the military in so-called disturbed areas.

Key Recommendations

  • The government of India, the state government of Manipur, and all militant groups should place human rights protection mechanisms at the center of any attempt to resolve the conflict and ensure compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law.
  • The government of India should repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 as recommended by the government-appointed Jeevan Reddy committee.
  • The government of India and the state government of Manipur should investigate and prosecute government officials, including members of the armed forces, police, and paramilitary, responsible for human rights violations.
  • The government of India should arrest and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all those found responsible for the 2004 murder of Thangjam Manorama Devi.
  • Armed groups should publicly denounce abuses committed by any militant group and ensure that there is appropriate accountability for such abuses.
  • Armed groups should immediately stop the abduction and recruitment of children into their forces.

Methodology

In early 2008, Human Rights Watch travelled to Manipur to investigate the human rights situation. With the assistance of human rights activists and lawyers, we investigated 18 cases of torture and extrajudicial killing since 2006. We interviewed government officials, army officers, police officials, politicians, lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders. We conducted over 60 interviews in Manipur and supplemented with follow-up research through August 2008.

For Manorama’s case, we met with Manorama’s family, the lawyers who are pursuing her case, and Judge Upendra Singh, who conducted an investigation into the incident.

Most interviews with victims or their families were conducted privately. In some cases we used local NGO partners as translators. We also held group discussions with some activists, such as the members of the Meira Paibi.

Since there is an ongoing dialogue between the government and some of the groups operating in the hill districts of Manipur, counter-insurgency operations have reduced in scale. Most of the operations are in the Manipur valley to contain the Meitei and Muslim groups. Our investigations were thus limited to the valley areas.

In order to protect victims and others who might face reprisals by either side for speaking about them, names and any information that might identify them, such as places where interviews were held or specific dates of those meetings, have in certain cases been withheld.

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The Dirty Blame Game

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By: Rohit Kumar

In the aftermath of the November 26th, 2008, attack in Mumbai, a number of fingers were pointed either in the direction of militant organizations based on Pakistani soil, or towards a carefully orchestrated operation designed by the notorious ISI of Pakistan. Isn’t it surprising that hardly anyone, not even the media – even the so called independent media of India – begged to differ, and instead jumped on to the Pakistan bashing bandwagon?

The Wiki Leak cables once again have exposed information which should have never reached the public eye. The latest diplomatic cables have put horrific Mumbai attacks into a completely different light by giving an alternative to the cliché of Pakistan’s nefarious designs to a much more grand conspiracy behind the infamous Mumbai fiasco. According to the source of the Wiki Leak entries, US Ambassador Timothy Roemer claimed that Rahul Gandhi had told him that Hindu-supremacist saffron terror was probably a greater threat to national security than Islamist terror.

Read Complete Article: http://www.zoneasia-pk.com/ZoneAsia-Pk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3085:the-dirty-blame-game&catid=70:free-talk&Itemid=84

Indian army chief calls for political solution in Kashmir

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NEW DELHI: The head of the Indian army has called for a political solution to unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir, saying the military should step back from its security role in the region.


India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since 1947, but the last major troop build-up was in 2002 after gunmen attacked the parliament in New Delhi, with the alleged backing of Pakistan.

Street violence in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley has increased in recent weeks after the deaths of several unarmed civilians who were killed as troops sought to contain protests against rule from New Delhi.

“I feel there is a great requirement for political initiatives that take all people together,” General V.K. Singh told the Times of India in an interview published Wednesday.

“Militarily, we have brought the overall internal security situation in Jammu and Kashmir under control. Now, the need is to handle things politically.”

Singh added that local police “need to be more active” to allow the army, currently numbering about 500,000, to reduce its presence in the region.

Three Indian soldiers and five suspected militants were killed in the latest gunbattle that started late Monday along the Line of Control (LoC) border that splits Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

The army said the militants were involved in one of many attempts to “infiltrate” the Indian-controlled sector from the Pakistani side.

Despite the street protests and border clashes, the insurgency has lessened in recent years amid peace talks between the two nations.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since 1947, but the last major troop build-up was in 2002 after gunmen attacked the parliament in New Delhi, with the alleged backing of Pakistan.

“The armed forces are required to undertake operations in very difficult circumstances,” Singh said. “If the Jammu and Kashmir situation has come under control, it’s the forces which have sacrificed with their blood.”

Indian Army Lt. Gen. forced to resign following charges of sexual misconduct

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NEW DELHI: In a major embarrassment for the Army, a Lieutenant General has been forced to resign following allegations of sexual misconduct against him by the wife of an officer during a visit abroad last month. Lt. General A K Nanda has been accused of sexual misconduct by the wife of a junior colleague, prompting the army to extract his resignation. Army sources told PTI here today that Lt. Gen Nanda, who is the Indian Army’s the Engineer-in-Chief, was asked to put in his papers by Army Chief Gen V K Singh after a complaint that he molested the wife of his technical secretary during a visit to Israel. Lt Gen Nanda has already put in his papers, the sources said. 59-year-old A K Nanda became the seniormost army officer to be removed in such an unceremonious manner, and is also the senior-most Army officer to face such action over sexual misconduct charges. He had one more year left in his service.


Lt Gen A K Nanda had only about a year ago taken over as the Engineer-in-Chief, and had one year of service left.

Nanda and his team had gone to Israel along with their families, the sources said. The complaint was filed by the wife of Nanda’s technical secretary to Army Chief’s wife, and the President of the Army Wives Welfare Association Bharti Singh, who promptly put it up before Gen Singh. After an inquiry into the episode, Singh is believed to have asked Nanda last week to put in his papers and leave.

Lt Gen Nanda had only about a year ago taken over as the Engineer-in-Chief and had earlier served as the Director General of the Border Roads Organisation. Nanda’s technical secretary, who had expressed his displeasure and unwillingness to work under Nanda, has been posted to Bhopal. A new technical secretary, Col Sanjeev Dalal, has taken over the job. When Nanda’s office was contacted, his staff, including Dalal, refused to speak on the matter. Nanda was not available for comments.

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June 3, 2010 at 11:51 am

The Allure of A License to Kill

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By Momin Iftikhar

Indian media has recently reported that changes in the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will have to wait “until the Army comes on board”. This is bad news for the bruised and battered population in the Regions of Indian North East and the IHK , where its longstanding invocation is the cause of immeasurable pain and tragedy among locals. The political pressure for its repeal is mounting but the Indian Army, used to the convenience of Act , which enables it to conduct no holds barred counter insurgency campaigns without accountability, simply doesn’t want to let go of it; resisting efforts to even affect cosmetic modifications. The backlash to the draconian act has been taking shape for a long time but the North Indian State of Manipur, where a conglomerate of 32 civil organizations, called “Apunba Lup” has emerged to resist the tyranny of the Indian Army, stands out in leading the crusade for repeal of AFSPA – and with good reasons.

Assam Rifles operating in the state has come to be associated with a sustained spate of custodial torture killings and incidents of rape. Some high profile forms of protests and a few gritty activists have made their contributions in focusing the attention on the despicable of state of affairs in the insurgency infested regions of India. In July 2004 twelve Imas (mothers) stripped naked outside the Kangla Fort gate , where the headquarters of the Assam Rifles are located, shouting slogans “Indian Army Come Rape Us All”. The women were attempting to draw attention to the abduction, rape and killing of Manorama Devi by the personnel of Assam Rifles. The photographs of the demonstration were too shocking to be printed by any of the mainstream media in India but the poignant protest did make its impact in delivering the stark message. In practical terms, though, little was achieved in clipping the Draconian powers of AFSPA; killers of the innocent political activist, despite identification, remained unpunished.

Another woman activist from Manipur, Irom Sharmila, has resorted to a most determined form of passive resistance for abolition of AFSPA by remaining on a hunger strike for almost a decade. Her epic resistance began in Nov 2000 when ten people were gunned down by the Indian security forces in Imphal in her presence. The Indian Army has kept her alive through forced feeding through a nasal drip; declaring her hunger strike as an “attempted suicide”. The moment she is freed, she resorts to the hunger strike; courting arrest and then embarks again on a year long spell of custodial forced feeding that come as a punishment for her attempt to take her own life. In a remarkable display of courage, the ritual of release and re-arrest has been repeated sixteen times without breaking her will to resist the AFSPA.

Sharmila’s efforts have not been in vain and her fight is being taken up by Manipur youth who have started a campaign for repealing the AFSPA by resorting to a most innovative campaign. The Manipur Chapter of the All India Youth Federation (AIYF) has planned to dispatch at least 15000 post cards entreating to the Indian President to revoke the AFSPA from the state. The printed postcard carries a picture of Irom Sharmila and makes an impassioned appeal to the Indian President to withdraw the AFSPA from the state. “Continuous acts of violence, including rape and arson, have been perpetrated against innocent citizens since the implementation of this act. Various democratic forces have opposed this draconian act for the past decades,” the post card adds.

Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), promulgated by the Indian Parliament in September 1958, grants sweeping powers to the Indian Army and paramilitary forces in the insurgency-hit states . This includes shoot at sight and arrest without warrants ; empowering even the non commissioned officers or jawans to shoot to kill on the basis of mere suspicion as well as the power to destroy property where the insurgents are suspected to be hiding in the notified disturbed areas. Clause 6 of the act bars all legal proceedings against security forces’ personnel without central government sanction. “No prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings shall be instituted against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of powers conferred by this act,” it says. The Act was initially clamped over the seven restive Indian North Eastern States for a year in 1958, yet the Indian Army has found it so ‘useful’ that despite passage of fifty years it continues to remain in vogue. When an armed rebellion burst out in the IHK in 1989, AFSPA was extended to the Indian Held Kashmir in Jul 1990, where it has proved instrumental in spawning a culture of disappearances, rape, custodial killings and fake encounters.

Any grant of sweeping powers to security forces ought to be counterbalanced by setting up of strong accountability mechanisms to prevent misuse of powers to preclude cases of human rights violations. This vital consideration is sadly lacking in case of India. The result is that while custodial killings, fake encounter killings, excessive use of force, torture and cases of rape are rampant, the culprits, if at all confronted with their crimes, escape with a rap on the wrist. On aspects of accountability it should be instructive to note what a State Department report observes in the context of human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir. “Accountability remains a serious problem in Jammu and Kashmir. Security Forces committed thousands of serious human rights violations over the course of the 14 years conflict including extra judicial killings, disappearances and torture. Despite this record of abuse only a few hundred members of the security forces have been prosecuted since 1990…Punishments ranged from reduction in rank to imprisonment for up to 10 years”.

Following the furor caused by Manorama’s killing and the subsequent ‘naked protest ‘, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Manipur and promised to make the AFSPA more ‘humane’. Two panels, the Administrative Reforms Commission and the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee, recommended scrapping the Act but Indian Army has put its ‘boot’ down. It has even refused to accept any amendments to the Act that should circumscribe Army’s untrammeled powers- even as the incidents of rape, custodial deaths, abductions and fake encounters by the Indian Army abound in the insurgency infested areas. “It [repealing or modifying the Act] means asking us to fight with our hands tied,” an unnamed Indian senior military officer was quoted by Indian media as saying. In such bleak setting, the iconic decade long struggle by Irom Sharmila, observing a fast-unto-death and the campaign by the Manipuri youth to take up issue with the Indian Government over the AFSPA happen to be the only beacons of light.

Cold Start: Indian Threat to Pakistan & China

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By Farzana Shah

In 2005 India announced a new military doctrine called Start Cold mainly targeting Pakistan as its potential enemy. In November 2009, Indian army chief made a statement that there is a possibility of a limited war between Pakistan and India in a nuclear overhang. In December 2009, Indian chief announced that India is ready to take on both Pakistan and China in a ‘two front war’ simultaneously. These statements spurred a quick reaction in Pakistani media and military establishment.

Indian statements

Indian army chief statement came in a closed door seminar in Shimla based military academy on five year review of its military doctrine and operational preparedness. Full details of the Indian chief speech are not known but what is released to media can be summarized as under;

1. India is in position to mobilize its forces so that they can move into enemy territory within 96 hours to execute its Cold Start military doctrine.

2.
India is now ready to take on Pakistan and China both in a “two front war” in a nuclear over hang.

3. India is going to enhance its “strategic reach and out-of-area capabilities” to protect its interests from Malacca strait to Persian Gulf.

4. To achieve above mentioned goals India would attain “operational synergy” between the three services

5. Countering “both military and non-military facets of asymmetric and sub-conventional threats.”

Indian army chief’s statements met with prompt reply from Pakistani military top brass. “Proponents of conventional application of military forces, in a nuclear overhang, are charting an adventurous and dangerous path, the consequences of which could be both unintended and uncontrollable,” said General Kiyani, CoAS Pakistan army. The next day Chairman joint Chief of Staff General Tariq Majeed responded to two front war doctrine in these words, “Leave alone China, General Deepak Kapoor knows very well what the Indian Army cannot and the Pakistan Army can pull off militarily”. He said the Indian Army chief “could not be so outlandish in strategic postulations to fix India on a self-destruct mechanism”.

Although Pakistan army made it clear that it is alive to the threats faced by the nation and recent history has proved that despite its numerical advantage and bigger economy, India was not able to initiate a war against Pakistan. It is important to look at drivers behind these statements by Indian army chief and how come this time Indian military establishment is so confident about their preparedness to take not only Pakistan but also China in a future war whereas in a previous stand off just 8 years ago the same Indian army could not fire a single bullet?

First it would be prudent to seek why these statements by Indian army chief came at this point of the time.

Indian army chief’s statements came when there are lots of things taking place in Pakistan’s internal politics at a rapid pace.

There is a critical political turmoil in the country especially after the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s decision on controversial NRO case. Though no final judgment has been issued but it seems that a large number of government members and ministers would be disqualified as their legitimacy for an elected parliamentarian would nullified once the final decision is announced and these members and ministers would have to leave their seats and criminal cases against them would be reopen in the courts. The danger of disqualification is not limited to ministers but president of Pakistan is also endangered by this decision of SC. If the court decided that President Zardari must come to court to clear allegation of corruption against him this would create another political crisis in the country where law and order situation is already very fragile due to war on terror.

Law and order situation in Pakistan has turned worst in year 2009 due to suicide attacks throughout the country. At the beginning of 2010, situation in previously the calm Karachi city has also turned worrisome regarding law and order. The city witnessed worst kind of riots and arson in history during last three weeks.

Militarily Pakistan army is stretched from Khyber to Karachi, now on both Eastern and Western borders. Pakistan army currently is combating TTP in South Waziristan after taking back Malakand division. According to recent news, Pakistan army has sealed roads to Orakzai agency before launching a full fledge operation there as well.

Recently a group of US senators visited Pakistan and had meetings with top brass of Pakistan army during their visit. It was also indicated by some senators that Pakistan army soon would launch an operation in North Waziristan as well. This will stretch Pakistan army further along with Afghan border. Active part of ‘Operation Rah-i-Rast’ in Swat/Malakand is over though but still Pakistan army units are there as civilian forces, and are not ready to take control of the whole region. Army and the provincial government are building community police setup there, but it would take some time to get control.

Pakistan armed forces are undergoing a massive modernization program which is about to be completed not earlier than 2019. Modernization enhances skills of any force but it also includes a learning cover and time to absorb technology. Pakistan air force would go nearly a complete overhaul as almost entire fleet of PAF would be eventually replaced with new one till 2019.

On the other hand Indian forces are getting latest weapon system since long and are in better position and have a clear numerical strength against Pakistani forces. All above factors made current time more feasible for India to launch its preemptive strikes against Pakistan army and its infrastructure by executing Indian Cold Start doctrine.

Ultimate Indian Plan: Cold Start & 4th Generation warfare (4GWs)

Though Pakistani response at military level was well calculated and prompts along with a strong response from Pakistani foreign office, but still it would be prudent to study Indian military preparedness and the doctrine

The Indian army plan is not new, but Indian military establishment devised this plan to take on Pakistan and China in a war simultaneously some five years ago. A careful look at statement of Indian army chief makes it clear that Indians are eying establishing a strong military footprint in Indian Ocean from Malacca strait to Persian Gulf.

“This would enable us to protect our island territories; also give assistance to the littoral states in the Indian Ocean Region,” said Gen Kapoor.

Cold start doctrine is not about capturing Pakistani territory but inflicting as much damage as possible to enemy forces and infrastructure within matter of hours. It is more like a hit and run tactics giving no time to Pakistan to react.

Indian military adopted Cold start on April 28, 2004, after a 10 months long standoff (Operation Parakram) with Pakistan army along 2500 kilometer Indo-Pak border in 2002. In this stand off Indian army strike formation took almost a month to be mobilized. Contrary to this Cold Start emphasizes on quick deployment of forces and synergize operations of all three services towards destruction of Pakistan army defenses and units in short possible time. But is it all that easily possible? Does Indian military have that kind of inter service coordination to implement Cold Start in real war? This is the point where some Pakistani analysts believe that India still doesn’t have the capability to carry on its Cold Start doctrine against Pakistan. An objective analysis of this aspect is only possible after studying Indian strategic military planning against Pakistan during last five years can answer this important question.

To overcome inter services coordination a separate South-Western Army Command has been formed since 2005 which deals with Indian military deployment and operations along with Pakistani borders only. One of the major reason for raising new command was to fulfill the demands of integrated battle groups consisting Indian army and air force units and squadrons. India is working on its preparedness for surgical strikes with these battles group since 2005, now and the job of fine tuning these tactics is assigned to Army Training Command (ARTRAC) and the Army War College. From statement made by Lt. Gen. Labama it is evident that India is ready to go to war with Pakistan and China simultaneously.

Another reason for adopting Cold Start by India is to minimize the reaction time available for diplomatic solution of any potential crisis like one emerged after Mumbai attacks in November 2008. Indian government and forces were under pressure to carryout some surgical strikes on so called terrorist infrastructure on the Pakistani soil. Under Cold Start Indian military would make sure that any diplomatic solution comes after India gets all its objectives. A war between Pakistan and India would jeopardize the entire war on terror. But still India would need a pretext to execute its Cold Start doctrine and this is where 4th generation warfare comes into equation.

Use of 4th generation warfare against Pakistan is a more dangerous and disturbing angle of Indian designs which most defense analysts in Pakistan have overlooked. This paradigm of warfare revolves around asymmetrical warfare to get a moral victory with minimum nation state involvement. It is necessary to understand major difference between various generations of warfare and figuring out which one of these Pakistan is facing now. First generation revolved around conscription and firearms. Nepoleon wars can be categorized in this generation. Second generation involved nation-state armies, alignment of warfare resources and raw firepower. WWI can be categorized as 2nd generation warfare. Third generation warfare included armored warfare and maneuvering and best example of this generation of warfare was WWII which ended only after usage of nuclear weapons in Japan in 1945.

By the end of 20th century Russia invaded in Afghanistan and this was the start of a new generation of warfare. Though guerilla warfare is very old but in 1982 after direct involvement of CIA in this conflict, this guerilla warfare gave birth to fourth generation warfare (4GWs) that works on principle of lesser to no nation state involvement but rely on ad-hoc warriors and moral conflicts. Other imperatives of 4GWs include adaptation of technology to surprise the enemy and information warfare.

A careful look at what Pakistan army is combating in FATA makes it clear that Pakistan army is dealing with first phase of Indian design against Pakistan which deals with winning a moral war by adopting 4GWs.It cannot be a coincident that Pakistan army is facing an enemy who has; ad-hoc fighters, propaganda warfare capabilities in form of FM radios, very advanced weaponry and communication gear. This is indeed not a war waged just for revenge against Pakistan army to side US after 9/11. If it is then how come the poor tribesmen gathered all these assets within a short period of time and mastered the skills to use them against world’s 6th largest military machine i.e Pakistan army.

Pakistan army and security management have no doubts about Indian support to TTP, a banned terrorist organization committing horrific terrorism nationwide since its inception in 2005 (The same year when India adopted new military doctrine and raised a new military command along with Pakistani border). Pakistan army has seized not only Indian made weapons in Swat and FATA but also has eliminated number of Indian combatants. Proofs have already been given to civilian government to take up the matter at world forums but there is no sign of urgency in this regard in Islamabad which is not only strange but questionable as well.

Though Pakistan army has fought successfully with Indian 4GWs in Swat and FATA but due to lack of political will was unable to gain any higher moral ground in community of nations. On the other hand India already has built a case against Pakistan as a country being used as staging ground for terrorism against its neighbors.

Chinese Slant

Although China is also mentioned in the statement by Indian army chief as a potential enemy in the war along with Pakistan but it is no secret that India has always used foreign military aid against Pakistan. India has one clear advantage over China in current geopolitics in the world. There is an embargo on China for Western high tech military equipment after Tiananmen Square incident 1989. On the other hand India along with a healthy economy has no such restrictions imposed for military hardware despite worst human right conditions thanks to global hypocrisy and double standards of West and US. Still India lacks in many areas when it comes to military balance vis a vis China.

China sensed the importance of indigenization a long ago and started to develop its military production facilities in 1960s. Now Chinese military complexes not only supply advanced weapons to its own forces but also export large amount of these weapons to other countries including Pakistan. Not only this, but China helped Pakistan to build its own military industry after debacle of 1971.

With its well established economy and knowledge base China has crossed many milestones in military hardware production. Now apart from US and Russia China is the only country in the world to run a 5th generation military jet fighter project. Apart from its indigenization efforts sheer number of Chinese forces is another factor why India would never think about carrying out any military adventure against China. Apart from this military comparison China unlike Pakistan or India is a veto power in UN Security Council and can dissuade any move by India in UN against Pakistan or China.

The mentioning of China in Indian chief statement is a mere indication to West and US that now India is ready to take a role of regional power and both US and West can trust India as any ally against communist China. US is banking on India to compete with China in economics and military fields but friendship of Pakistan and China is a big hurdle for India in both these fields. India is eyeing permanent seat in UN since long now and the current statement can also be a signal to US and West to accept India as a big player in the region along with China.

All the military aid would be used against Pakistan in actual war that is evident from history as well when US helped India against China in 1962. Most of US weapons were used against Pakistan in 1965 war.

Cold Start and Possible Pakistani Response

As indicated in its response Pakistani military leadership has made it clear that any misadventure by India can result in unavoidable consequences. Indian doctrine is flawed at many places.

Firstly, India would have to have a solid reason and pretext to launch any attack no matter low limited against Pakistan.

Secondly, Indians have no gauge of Pakistani military planning to counter Cold Start. It must be bear in mind that Pakistan military announced in July 2005 that it is fully aware of Indian Cold Start doctrine. Pakistan may deploy its unconventional arms much earlier than India has envisaged.

Thirdly, Due to Pakistani preparedness there is clear lack in synergy required in Indian forces to implement Cold Start successfully. Indian Navy would not be able to blockade Pakistani Navy in Karachi as now Pakistan Navy has two more naval bases in Omara and Gawadar. Likewise if Indian air force deploys its front line jet fighter and bombers on forward air bases (FABs) Pakistani cruise missile can come into equation much earlier.

Fourthly,
a time line of 48 hours or 96 hours to put Pakistan in a military submission to India with help of armor corps and air support can be proved as dangerous as claims of capturing Lahore in one day proved in 1965. A prolonged combat on borders can put strategic Indian infrastructure in danger. Pakistan air force can launch attacks on dams built on Chenab and Jehlam rivers in Kashmir, Pakistan strategic force command would be in position to hit Indian economic centers like Silicon Valley in Banglore.

Fifthly, Indian military establishment failed to see how a handful of Kashmiri fighters made 700,000 Indian army troops permanently stationed in one valley since decades. Despite presence of this force, which is more than total regular army of Pakistan, Indian government has failed to curb freedom struggle in Kashmir and this circumstances any war between Pakistan and India would be last thing the Indian army would ever dream in Kashmir. Indian military would be in no position to control Kashmiris and fight Pakistan army at same time.

Sixthly, Indian military establishment is relying much more on President Zardari’s announcement that Pakistan will not use its nuclear weapon as first strike. In reality it is Pakistan army who will decide which weapon is to be used when and where.

Last but not the least India is relying on its ever increasing air power not only for Cold Start but to neutralize any Pakistani deployed missiles in a preemptive strikes. It seems that time for such an operation has almost gone for Indian air force. In 2010 PAF would be reshaped to take on the challenges of 21st century. PAF has already established parity in Air Born Early Warning capability after inducting SAAB Erieye AEW&C platform. In June 2010 Pakistan would start receiving state of the art F-16 Block52 fighters from US and PAF Air defense system is going to enhance its capabilities manifold by inducting MBDA’s Spada2000 medium range SAM system. Though Indian air force currently is enjoying numerical superiority but India can’t put all its war assets against Pakistan in a war keeping in view size of India.

Another problem which India is going to face during any execution of Cold Start is the gauge of nuclear threshold of Pakistan, a point where Pakistan would decide to go for unconventional warfare. This is where Army Chief Asfaq Perviz Kiyani hinted that consequences of any misadventure in a nuclear overhang can be suicidal for India.

Suggestions

Indian aggression in future would increase. Recent trends of buying military hardware by India are a clear indication to this fact. Pakistan armed forces don’t need to match Indian counterparts but rather require higher level of preparedness. It is not Cold Start that must alarmed security managers but it is 4th generation warfare by Indian intelligence and military establishment that must be a source of contention for Pakistan. Pakistani military and civilian government needs to take some steps in order to defeat Indian 4GWs tactics in FATA and to prevent India from deploying its forces ever again.

Pakistan must maintain a strategic ambiguity about first use of its nuclear weapons against any enemy including India. An early announcement would always put Pakistan on wrong footing as it will provide another opportunity to Indian and world media to talk about Pakistan’s obsession against India.

Pakistan army must complete all the counter insurgency operation as soon as possible and strike units must report back giving control to the civilian forces in areas which have been cleared of militants. The good news is Pakistan army has realized the importance of civilian forces. Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Kiyani vows to support NWFP police with equipment and training while speaking at police academy in Peshawar.

In any future force stand off Pakistan military must make sure that it has deployed enough strategic weapons that can not be compromised by a pre-emptive strike by Indian air force or other strikes.

Pakistan must build a strong case against India and her involvement in Pakistan particularly in supporting terrorism in Baluchistan and FATA. Pakistan army has given proofs to government and the ball is in democratic government’s court to take the case on international forums like UN where Pakistan easily can seek Chinese help in order to unearth Indian intentions against Pakistan and peace in the region.

In any future political crisis in the country, Pakistan army must keep itself isolated from political turmoil and remained focused on external threats as any involvement in politics would degrade Pakistan’s ability to respond to a prompt military challenge posed by India.

Government must ensure that Pakistan armed forces modernization program remain on track and government always has a reliable financing on short notice for an urgent need if armed forces raise a demand.

Pakistan must quit current defensive foreign policy adopted in Musharraf era. Pakistan must make it clear to world that any act of terrorism must not be linked to Pakistan without proper investigations. Recent student crisis in UK has exposed this weakness in foreign policy where government was failed to react in time when innocent Pakistani students were charged for planning a terrorist attack. Similar ineptness was evident on part of government in case of Samjootha Express incident, which was wrongly blamed on Pakistan but the government was failed to respond on international forum.

Media management of Pakistan armed forces and its operations inside country has always been weak. In Pakistan, unlike India, media is not always behind army. Despite the gains by Pakistan army in war on terror in time span of three to five months in Swat and South Waziristan there is still a perception that Pakistan army is unable to combat terrorism and some even go to an extent that Pakistan army might be supporting Taliban. These perceptions are culmination of a weak media policy by government and needs an urgent attention to change these misperceptions.

– Asian Tribune –