Court Sentences Indian Army Captain to Life in Prison for Cold-Blooded Killing in Shopian!

The trial of an Indian Army captain for an alleged cold-blooded encounter in Shopian, Jammu, and Kashmir, has finally reached its verdict, with the Court awarding life imprisonment for the crime. The sentencing of the captain has stirred up deep emotions among the people of India, largely due to the fact that it was an extra-judicial killing. The incident which took place in April 2018 sent shockwaves through the nation as it raised serious questions about the government’s ability to reign in the army and protect its citizens. This case has also become a major issue in the ongoing Kashmir conflict, with many people pointing to it as an example of the state’s abuse of power.

On 13th February 2020, the Chief Judicial Magistrate Shopian, Rajouri District Court awarded Indian Army Captain Bhoopendra Singh Tomar with life imprisonment for his involvement in a cold-blooded encounter in Shopian on the 3rd of April 2019. The encounter took the life of three civilians – Shabir Ahmad Mir, Tariq Ahmad Sheikh, and Suhail Javed Lone.

The court found Captain Tomar guilty of attacking the three young men and shooting them in cold blood during a nighttime ‘cordon and search operation at Moolu village. All three of them succumbed to their injuries and were declared dead on arrival at the district hospital.

The court noted that the three civilians were shot and killed in spite of not offering resistance or having any criminal history as per the district police records. They were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time and were tragically caught in an encounter conducted by the Indian Army without any accountability.

The court’s decision came on the heels of a probe initiated by the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission. The commission had sought an investigation into the matter after receiving multiple complaints from locals and civil society activists. This is a landmark judgment as the local civil court in the Shopian district has now officially held an army Captain responsible for his actions during the encounter.

The Indian Army, in the past, has been notorious for its immunity from civil laws, and this judgment serves as a reminder that no one is above the law and perpetrators of such brutal crimes will be dragged to the court of law and punished accordingly.

This judgment is likely to have a wider impact as the Indian Army will be re-evaluating its cordon and search operations across the country to ensure that civilians are not harmed in the line of duty. Additionally, this judgment will also lay an important example to the international community that India takes such crimes of human rights and violations in a war zone seriously and will not hesitate to punish perpetrators.

The families of the three young men killed in the encounter will hope for closure after the judgment and will hope for peace and justice for all other human rights victims in India.


UN Human Rights Chief’s Remarks Create Unease among Indian Government over Kashmir Situation

Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed his concerns over the human rights situation in India’s illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir during his address at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council. His remarks did not sit well with the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindutva ideology. Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, spoke against Turk’s statement, deeming it “unwarranted and factually wrong”. Nevertheless, Turk has committed to exploring how his Office can contribute to addressing the human rights matter in Kashmir, noting that justice and human rights are fundamental to security and development in the region.

Pandey said India does not see any role for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in matters that, he claimed, are the country’s internal affairs.

“Startling Numbers: 4,05,861 Cases of Crimes Against Women in India in 2019 & 370,000 Last Year Alone!” – Acknowledging International Women’s Day Amid India’s ‘Rape Capital’ Status.

International Women’s Day is being observed worldwide to acknowledge the outstanding contributions by women in different fields across the globe. The day aims to raise awareness about women’s equality. Whereas, New Delhi, one of the most unsafe cities for women in India, is often dubbed as the “rape capital”. Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “The bitter truth is that many Indians don’t consider women to be human”. Between 2018 and 2019, India reported 4,05,861 cases of crimes against women out of which 59,583 incidents were reported in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) as per the National Crime Record Bureau’s 2019 “Crimes in India”. In 2020, more than 28,000 cases of rape were reported across India, an average of 77 in a day, according to a report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The NCRB data from September 2021 also showed that more than 370,000 cases of crimes against women were reported in the country in the previous year. Experts believe the real figures are much higher as many women do not report such cases due to fear or shame or both. The women of IIOJK have been facing with an unending ordeal of terror and trauma due to frequent abductions, sexual violence, illegal detentions and molestations at the hands of Indian security forces on the pretext of ‘Cordon and Search Operations’. Modi’s Hindutva supremacist government continues to use rape and molestation as a ‘weapon of war’ and ‘collective punishment’ in the occupied territory to suppress the legitimate right to freedom of the innocent Kashmiri people. It is a sheer violation of the international humanitarian and human rights law and UN Security Council’s resolutions. The horrific acts of violence, mental torture, aggressions and ruthless brutalities against women had turned life into a worse nightmare in the valley. According to the Human Rights Watch, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) shields the Indian security forces from prosecution from their crimes of sexual violence. The draconian nature of the act has been described as breach of the international human rights law by members of the international community.  Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR), urges that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”. Contrary to that, the women of IIOJK are subject to atrocities at the hands of Indian occupying forces, where they are being subject to gang-raped and molested for the past seven decades. Since 1989, 22,958 women widowed and 11,256 are molested by brutal Indian forces. The world must wake up from deep slumber to contain sexual violence being used as war tactics in the occupied territory.