SRINAGAR, KASHMIR, INDIA – Masooda Parveen, 49, says she is dead.
“I died several years back when my husband was murdered,” Parveen says.
Parveen accuses Indian security forces of murdering her husband, Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Regoo, 13 years ago because they thought he was a Pakistan-trained militant. Parveen says their actions were based on a false rumor. Regoo, she insists, was in the saffron business.
Parveen says a local business rivalry led neighbors to label Regoo as a militant.
“They were running an extortionist racket in the area and had been demanding money from my husband,” she says.
Parveen says it was around 8:30 p.m. when personnel from the 17 Jat regiment of the Indian army and two surrendered militants entered their home in Chandhara-Pampore, in south Kashmir, and grabbed her husband by his collar.
“We were locked in [the] kitchen, and Regoo was dragged from one room to [the] other,” she says. “There were bloodstains on [the] wall. Our neighbors after some time opened the door of our house. By that time, they had left and carried Regoo along.”
Parveen says they tortured him at Lethpora army camp, where he was killed. She suggests that security forces tied bombs to his body and detonated them to make his death appear an accident. But police declined to comment on the veracity of this claim.
The next day she went to the army camp to inquire about her husband, but she says officials denied having arrested him. Eventually, Parveen took her case to the Supreme Court, but the court sided with the army, ruling her husband’s death an accident by explosion.
“I will never forget this incident,” she says. “These things give me sleepless nights. I want my voice to reach somewhere.”
Now, she says she is determined to speak up.
Earlier this month she shared her story with Margaret Sekaggya, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights, when she visited Srinagar on Jan. 19 to assess the conditions faced by human rights defenders in the area.
In December, WikiLeaks released security reports that revealed Indian security forces tortured Kashmiri prisoners. When the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights visited Srinagar earlier this month on the invitation of the Indian government, victims and their family members, like Parveen, say they were empowered to come forward. But while disappeared bodies continue to surface, advocates say more needs to be done to end the violence.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, visited detention centers in Kashmir from 2002 to 2004 and sent evidence to U.S. diplomats that they witnessed widespread torture, such as beatings, electric shocks and sexual abuse. WikiLeaks, an international nonprofit organization that publishes secret documents, made this evidence public in December.
Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, told India’s NDTV channel that he was not in office at the time the ICRC collected its evidence, according to BBC News. SM Sohai, inspector general of police of Indian-administered Kashmir, called the reports propaganda.