September 25, 2019

Young boys tortured in Kashmir clampdown as new figures show 13,000 teenagers arrested
A new report claiming thousands of Kashmiri children have been incarcerated has cast doubt on claims life is returning to normal in the state. After visiting Kashmir, activists found around 13,000 boys have been detained since its autonomous status was revoked on Aug 5. The report, led by the National Federation of Indian Women, detailed claims that boys - some as young as 14 - had been imprisoned for up to 45 days. It also claimed that families were paying up to 60,000 rupees (£678) for their children’s release. The Muslim-majority state has been under a rigid curfew and communications blackout since Article 370 and Article 35A were removed last month. The Jammu and Kashmir government said there is “no centralised figure” for numbers of Kashmiris who have been arrested during the crackdown. Kashmir | Read more On Monday, however, the Chief of Staff of the Indian Army said any stories of disruption were a "narrative being driven by separatists." Krishna Saagar Rao, chief spokesperson of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told the Telegraph it had detained Kashmiri politicians to ensure stability in the state. “Politicians in the Kashmir valley were plotting to create unrest amongst people by instigating them,” said Mr Rao. According to government data, over 200 local politicians have been detained, including former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah. Official data on the number of children imprisoned has not been released. It is also unclear why minors have been arrested, although it is believed some have been detained for throwing stones at army personnel. An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard in Srinagar Credit: TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images The activists visited Kashmir between September 17 and 21 and interviewed members of the Jammu and Kashmir police, doctors and professors.  Their report claims the authorities used excessive force when arresting the boys, and that some have been tortured while imprisoned.  Domestic and international media has detailed the use of torture against Kashmiris, including beatings and electric shocks. On Saturday, a 15-year-old boy committed suicide in Srinagar after allegedly being assaulted by the army. “It is [an] Indian variant of genocide,” said Annie Raja, the General Secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women. Ms Raja's organisation has called on the India to release all children detained in Kashmir since August 5.
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