Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan


On July 8, 2016, Burhan Wani, the 22-year-old-leader of the armed group Hizbul Mujahidin, was killed by Indian security forces in Kokernag district in the then state of Jammu and Kashmir. This triggered protests on an unprecedented scale in the Kashmir Valley and in the districts of Jammu. Indian security forces responded to the protests with force, leading to casualties and alleged human rights violations, which began in the summer of 2016 and continued till 2018.

Shortly after Wani was killed, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights requested the governments of India and Pakistan for unconditional access to Kashmir to assess the human rights situation there. On being denied access, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) started remotely monitoring the human rights situation in Indian-Administered Kashmir (the Kashmir Valley, and the Jammu and Ladakh regions) and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan). This report is the outcome of that monitoring from July 2016 to April 2018. (It was followed by a second report in July 2019.)

The OHCHR found that the allegations of human rights violations during this period were widespread and serious, particularly the excessive use of force by the Indian security forces that led to numerous human casualties. These allegations and witnesses’ accounts of violence have been documented in this report. 

Drawn largely from information already in the public domain, the report reflects the research of human rights defenders and local, national and international NGOs. It also draws from official documents, such as questions in Parliament, court orders and police reports, and news reports by the Press Trust of India.


  1. According to the Jammu and Kashmir government, 51 people were killed during the unrest between July 8, 2016, and February 27, 2017, and 9,042 civilians were injured during the protests due to the use of bullets, metal pellets and chemical shells by the security forces.

  2. People’s organisations have estimated that from mid-July 2016 to end-March 2018, 130 to 145 civilians were killed by Indian security forces, while 16 to 20 civilians were killed by armed groups.

  3. On January 23, 2018, the then J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti told the state assembly that 172 people had been killed since 2016. Of these, 105 were killed due to ‘law and order problems’ (85 in 2016 and 20 in 2017) and 67 in ‘militancy-related incidents’ (19 in 2016 and 48 in 2017).

  4. While Mufti said there had been 68 deaths in 2017, the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a federation of individuals and human rights organisations in Indian-Administered Kashmir, reported that 108 people were killed that year.

  5. Official figures presented in the Parliament stated that 17 people were killed by pellet injuries between July 2016 and August 2017. According to the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, 1,726 people were injured by metal pellets in 2016.

  6. In January 2018, Mufti said before the state assembly that 6,221 people had been injured by pellet guns in Kashmir between July 8, 2016, and February 27, 2017. Of these, 728 had eye injuries and 54 people suffered some form of visual impairment due to pellet injuries.

  7. On January 27, 2018, the J&K government also told the state assembly that five inquiries had been initiated into the killings of civilians in 2016, but it did not specify whether the investigations had been completed. The government added that no inquiries had been initiated for the killings of civilians in 2017.

  8. According to the JKCCS, none of these inquiries had been completed till the end of 2017, and not a single case of the excessive use of force in the state had led to prosecution in the civilian courts.

  9. On January 27, 2018, three civilians were reportedly killed and several injured in Shopian district when the Indian Army fired at protesters. More protests followed, Mufti ordered a magistrate-level inquiry into the killings, and the state police filed an FIR (first information report) against army personnel. However, one of the accused filed a petition before the Supreme Court to the cancel the FIR, and in March 2018, the court halted all investigations till its final verdict.)

  10. A right to information (RTI) application filed by Jammu and Kashmir RTI activists found that over 1,000 people were detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act between March 2016 and August 2017.

  11. The Software Freedom Law Center, a Delhi-based group dedicated to internet freedoms, reported that internet services in Jammu and Kashmir were suspended 10 times in 2016 and 32 times in 2017. On April 17, 2017, the state government imposed a ban on social media networks and mobile services following widespread protests.

  12. Confidential information received by the OHCHR indicates that approximately 1.4 million children lost an estimated 130 school days in 2016. Local media reported that  schools were closed for over four months after the protests started in 2016.

  13. In December 2016, the central government claimed that all schools in the state remained open during the 2016 unrest, and around 95 per cent of students appeared for the board examination. However, on November 17, 2016, the state government announced mass promotion for students in Classes 8, 9 and 11 due to the inability of schools to complete the curriculum.

  14. The central government told Parliament that 31 schools were damaged in arson attacks during the 2016 unrest. Of these schools, 14 were fully damaged while 17 were partially damaged.

  15. The 2017 report of the UN Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict said that there were no cases of attacks on schools in 2017; however, it estimated that at least 30 schools were burned and partially destroyed by armed groups in 2016.

    Focus and Factoids by Abizar Shaikh.


Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)


Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Geneva


14 Jun, 2018