Detainees held without trial in Kashmir accuse police of widespread abuse

Kashmiris detained and released without trial under a controversial law allowing preventive detentions have told the Telegraph they were tortured by the Indian police.

Exclusive interviews with seven Kashmiris, in-cluding a 15-year-old minor, have exposed the ex-tent of the rounding up and brutal torture of civilians in the conflict-ridden region since it was brought under central Indian rule in 2019.

While claims of torture have been lodged by ci-vilians in Kashmir for many years, lawyers say abuse is now commonplace and is taking place dur-ing almost every detention.

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has increasingly used a controversial piece of legisla-tion, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), as it permits detention without charge for up to six months. The legislation has been used at least 690 times since 2019 in Jammu and Kashmir.

One of those who fell foul of the law was Sahil Nazir, 19, who was picked up by police on March 10 in the town of Awantipora after being accused of planning a suicide attack.

Mr Nazir denied the charges and has since been released, but alleges he was beaten with sticks and kicked in the abdomen while imprisoned.

“I was horrified after I saw his condition and the torture marks. I thought he would surely die now,” said Mr Nazir’s father, Mir. “He has grown weak and lost weight. He had torture marks all over his body.”

Mr Nazir developed rhabdomyolysis, a condi-tion where trauma results in muscle fibres being released into the bloodstream, causing acute kidney damage. He required immediate hospitalisation and four rounds of dialysis.

Lawyers in Kashmir told the Telegraph that fewer than one per cent of arrests under the UAPA have resulted in a conviction over the past decade.