There are more than 471 torture centers still functioning in Kashmir. Every fifth Kashmiri is victim of torture and after every five kilometers there is a torture centre. There are about four lakh people who have been tortured from a moderate to severe degree. Ninety nine per cent of all those who were or are being arrested are subjected to torture. Methods of torture like head dipping in water, rolling on front side legs, electric shocks, inserting chili powder in private parts, cutting body parts or mutilating, keeping detainee naked during torture, sexually abusing, legs or arms stretching, inserting iron rods, hanging upside down, forced to drink excessive water, and humiliation are worst and all of them have been experimented on Kashmiri people.
India has not allowed the UN’s special rapporteur for torture to visit Kashmir since 1993. The country has signed but not ratified the UN Convention against Torture.
Here are seven torture centers you must know:
1: Hari Niwas
Maharaja Hari Singh constructed the opulent palace after his return from Europe, at the foothills of Zabarwan range overlooking Dal Lake despite soothsayers warning him against it. After the partition of sub-continent, the palace remained useless for a long time. In 80’s there was a plan that Kashmir Hotel Limited would acquire it for Rs. 43 lakhs but the deal never took place.
Hari Niwas, a majestic structure located over 200 kanals (25 acre) and valued at 500 Crore (77,760,000 USD) served as an interrogation centre during 1990s where thousands of Kashmiri youth were brutally tortured and killed. Later, it was taken over by the CID. In 2003, the PDP-led state government wanted Sri Pratab Museum at Lal Mandi to shift to Hari Niwas, but this project also didn’t take off. Now they have plans to make it a wedding venue.
Papa II, the most dreaded torture centres located in Srinagar was used by the Border Security Force for interrogating and killing thousands of Kashmiris. Once you were inside Papa-II, your chances of getting out alive were automatically reduced to zero. It was shut down in 1996. After the government spent one crore to renovate the building and performed certain purification rites to exorcise the place from ‘ghosts’ it was finally occupied by the current CM of Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti and her father, Late Mufti Syeed as their official residence.
Cargo, a huge concrete building housing the infamous Special Operations Group of the state police, was started in 1994 and used as a torture house. According to Wikileaks, ICRC staff had told the US diplomats that the ICRC could not gain access to the Cargo even after multiple attempts.
During 2008 and 2010, hundreds of young boys who had pelted stones at Indian security forces were subjected to torture there. The state has now converted Cargo into the state police’s IT hub, wiping away its past. In 2010, five young boys alleged that they had been sodomized by the police, but the courts are so slow and the police so powerful here that they eventually took their case back.
4: Kawoosa House
Occupied by forces for nearly 11 years, the troopers vacated the house in 2005. It was a center for anti-insurgency activities in the heart of Srinagar. High windows stacked with sandbags would drown the cries of young men who were being tortured inside by government force. Most of the people tortured in the house, local residents say, were residents of nearby areas such as Madin Sahib, Bahauddin Sahib and Malik Sahib. Sometimes they would rush to a window and say loudly their names and addresses and plead ‘please tell my parents that I am here’.
5: Red 16
In 1961, then Prime Minister of J&K, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad took Jalali House from it’s owner and gifted it to his labour officer from Saloora Ganderbal, Sheikh Ghulam Mohammad. Ghulam Mohammad settled in it with his second wife but soon left her there and went back to Ganderbal. The second wife refused to leave until one day, police arrived and showed the girl and her family the door. The real owners took the case to court but police refused to leave. Soon it became the notorious torture centre, namely Red 16. Why Red 16? Maybe because of it’s colour or maybe because of the blood spilled in it. Numeral “16” happened to be its house number in the locality.
Under Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq rule, Kashmir’s first armed group was among the first persons tortured inside Red 16. They were tortured for sending posters bearing India’s map showing J&K as a separate entity in red ink to pro-indian politicians. In 1990s things went from bad to worse.
6:Badami Bagh Cantonment
The Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar, Kashmir is the largest Indian army base in Jammu and Kashmir. Countless Kashmiri have been tortured there, later treated at the army hospital in the cantonment just to be tortured again. The army hospital has been used to cover up hundreds of severe cases of torture.
7: Shariefabad camp
Shariefabad camp was just like any other torture center, bloody, smelly and full of screams. But people who have survived it remember it for something more horrific. They say, Indian forces used to burn people alive in an iron tank inside the camp.
– Old Airport (BSF)
– Papa I (CRPF)
– Gogoland — between the old and new airports (CRPF)
– Joint Interrogation Center (BSF and CRPF)
– Bagi Ali Mardan (Nowshera) (BSF)
– Lal Bazaar Police Station (BSF)
– Hotel Mamta, Dal Gate (BSF)
– Shiraz Cinema, Khenyar (BSF)
and countless others. . .