A Criminal Indian Army
The videos and news stories from Kashmir had been revealing an unusually cruel occupation that had exceeded even the strongest prohibitions in the laws of warfare – before the internet was blocked from the valley and all access denied.
However, it was always assumed that those actions – from the using of a Kashmiri youth as human shield by tying him to the hood of a jeep to the use of pellet guns to blind protestors – were the actions of individual soldiers and commanders caught in the heat of battle.
It was always assumed the regular Indian army held itself to the standards of decency and proportionality enshrined in international law which are upheld by all professional armies in the world.
Comments by the Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat however, indicate that these actions are directed from the top.
It is a shameful day for the armed forces of the “biggest democracy in the world”; political differences aside, the Indian armed forces were always perceived to be an honourable institution.
Not only did Gen Rawat personally award the commander who ordered the use of a Kashmiri youth as a human shield with the commendation in not so tacit support for his actions, he has openly advocated the use of such “innovations”.
He has said to the public “I wish these people, instead of throwing stones at us, were firing weapons at us, then I would have been happy, then I could do what I want,” displaying his disdain for rules and regulations.
If Gen Rawat had things his way he would be allowed to shoot every protester he sees, and perhaps even much worse.
Coming from a nationalistic or right wing media agency these kinds of comments make sense, but from the head of the Indian army they are shocking and deplorable.
It shows how little the India cares for people that are supposedly their own citizens when the chief of the army wishes he could openly shoot them dead.
While the Modi led government cannot be expected to say anything, international human rights groups are speaking up.
The executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth has called Gen Rawat’s defence of human shields as “criminal leadership” and Amnesty International has called on the Indian government to stop using pellet guns as they “offend global standards of policing”.
Despite this unilateral condemnation of its actions, the Indian army is being told by its leadership to continue breaking international law in Kashmir.