Refuting government claims of a return to normalcy in Kashmir, a group of women activists, who visited the Valley last week, said boys and young men were being snatched from their homes by security forces, with the shutdown also taking its toll on women, students, doctors and patients.
“The Army pounces on young boys. When fathers go to rescue their children, they are made to deposit money, anywhere between ₹20,000 to ₹60,000,” a woman resident told the fact-finding team, which consisted of activists from the Left-affiliated National Federation of Indian Women and Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, as well as former Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed of the Muslim Women’s Forum.
“In Bandipora, we saw a young girl who made the mistake of keeping a lamp lit to read for her exam on the chance that her school may open soon,” said the fact-finding report released on Tuesday. “Army men, angered by this breach of ‘curfew’, jumped the wall to barge in. Father and son, the only males in the house were taken away for questioning. The two have been detained since then.”
Boys as young as 14 or 15 are taken away, tortured, some for as long as 45 days, the report said. Young women complained of harassment by Army personnel, including the removal of their niqabs . Often, doctors are unreachable given the lack of phones, public transport and blockades, the report said.
The activists demanded that all FIRs be cancelled, and the youth who were taken into custody since the abrogation of Article 370 be released. They called for the Army and paramilitary forces to be withdrawn and inquiries conducted into allegations of torture and violence.
Families who lost loved ones due to the non-availability of transport or communication must be compensated, they said.