By Mazhar Iqbal
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has recently launched an urgent appeal asking for the release of a former Kashmiri militant who has allegedly been arrested by Pakistani secret agencies.
The AHRC has written a separate letter to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment calling for urgent intervention into this matter.
The incident of enforced disappearance was already reported by local press in Pakistan and India. However, the urgency of the matter was felt after a woman called Shahnaz Qazi, spoke to media persons in Muzaffarabad- the capital of Pakistan Administered Kashmir and threatened to commit suicide along with her six children, if her spouse, Qazi Khushal, was not freed within five days.
This family of Kashmiri migrants is living in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad. They are originally from Karnah- an area on Indian side of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. The couple, who separately migrated to Muzaffarabad in 1990, got married after five years and have four sons and two daughters.
Khushal, who spent many years in fighting against India in Jammu & Kashmir is amongst thousands others those renounced militancy in recent years. The BBC reported in August this year that both India and Pakistan acknowledge that the number of militants coming into the territory from Pakistani-administered Kashmir has dwindled significantly.
Dozens of stories have appeared in recent months in media that highlight the serious violations of human rights of those Kashmiri families who want to live a normal life after renouncing militancy. Hundreds of former insurgents recruited and trained by secret agencies and militant organisations have returned back to their hometowns in Indian held Jammu & Kashmir.
Many more who wanted to join others in this home coming have delayed their plans after hearing stories of shocking welcome in India despite of the pledges of reconciliation and amnesty.
A former militant living in Muzaffarabad was reported as saying that there was no use of staying in Pakistan as the jihad (holy war) was over and they (former militants) did not want to live a life in exile. ‘’it’s better to live on your own land and around your own people than in virtual exile where one day you’ll be forced to beg for a living.”
Khushal’s, is amongst one of those migrant families who would like to stay in Pakistan because of their tragic memories back home in India and possible unwelcome attitude by Indian government.
According to his spouse’s account, he was whisked away by intelligence agency people when he was returning home after visiting his relatives in Leepa Valley. Later, he was seen in a military hospital in an annoying condition. She told media that she herself had seen him lying on the bed. He was handcuffed, profusely sweating and trembling. But those accompanying him did not allow people to speak to him. The incident has terrorized all those who live in the refugee camp.
The local administration and military officials deployed in the area have as usual, denied the arrest. It is feared by his wife that he would be killed in military detention and his body will be thrown on the road side.
This is not the only incident that has shattered the peace of mind for this family. They are amongst many others who have been facing the worst troubles of a proxy war.
Khushal’s militant inclinations have a motivational charge. His father, who was a well-known and respected figure in his community was arrested by the Indian army and killed in 1992. It was reported in vernacular Urdu press that his face was broken and nails removed during the detention which ultimately resulted in his death.
Khushal’s older brother was also arrested in 1993 on charges of insurgency in India and remained in prison for 3 years. The family then migrated to Pakistan and started living in a refugee camp. The AHRC has claimed with the input of reliable sources that they had constantly been pressured by the intelligence agencies to restart militant activity.