South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

David Barsamian, activist, writer and founder of the national radio show “Alternative Radio,” was deported from New Delhi, India on Monday. Barsamian was on his way to Srinagar, the capital of Jammu Kashmir for a three week long investigation into reports of mass graves found in the area. His trip was prompted by the Indian State Human Rights Commission’s release of a three year long inquiry and report which found over 2,000 bodies buried in 38 different unmarked graves in Kashmir. While the Indian Government stated that Barsamian was deported because he had violated his Visa stipulations on his previous India trip in 2009, others in the human rights community suspected that the real reason was to avert attention from the ongoing allegations of abuse and torture by Indian security forces in response to a rebellion in Kashmir that began in 1989 and continues today. While people living in the region have complained about systemic abuse, torture and detentions at the hands of the Indian security forces who were sent in to quell the uprising, the Indian Government is only now officially acknowledging the situation with the issuing of the Human Rights Commission Report. Kashmir, which is the only state in India to have a Muslim majority, was separated into Pakistani and Indian administered territories after the partition of India in 1947. Using the Public Safety Act which was passed back in 1978, the Indian Government started detaining people in Kashmir for one to two years without trial in questionable reasons. Amnesty International estimates that Indian forces have detained between 8 to 20 thousand people using circumstantial evidence and a 2010 Wikileaks cable found that The International Committee of the Red Cross met with the US embassy in Delhi to discuss torture and unfounded detentions by Indian Security Forces. It is estimated that up to 70,000 people have been killed over the duration of the rebellion. India has sent over half a million troops to the area, more than double the troops sent over by the US during the height of the Iraq occupation. Barsamian stated, “The human rights violations in Kashmir are extensive and have totally gone underneath the international media’s radar. If India claims to be the world’s largest democracy, maybe it should be looking at what it’s doing in Kashmir”