Despite widespread allegations of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, rights groups have not filed even a single application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act in the past five years since the law was enacted, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah told Hindustan Times on Sunday.
“I was surprised as I told some of them that they could utilise this forum to seek information on these issues,” Habibullah said.
The alleged existence of mass graves in Kashmir was a “fit case to seek information under the RTI,” he said.
Khuram Pervez, liaison officer of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir, said 2,700 mass graves were found in Uri, Baramulla, Kupwara and other parts of North Kashmir till Oct 2009.
But the Central Information Commission was “neither a punitive body nor an investigative body”, Pervez said, adding that it could only seek information from the state police.
“Why should they (the police) give information against themselves?”
Kashmiri political leaders —separatist and mainstream —have been petitioning global human rights bodies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for their intervention in cases involving alleged human rights abuses.
Private groups in Kashmir such as the Association of Parents of Missing Persons and the Kashmir Bar Association are also vocal about human rights violations. Allegations of abuse include rape, custodial killings and forced disappearances.
There were massive protests in Srinagar last month after the deaths of Wamiq Farooq (13), who died after being hit by a tear-gas shell, and Zahid Farooq (16), who was allegedly shot at point-blank range by the BSF on February 5.