The Indian Government have stopped issuing death certificates in Jammu and Kashmir and are forcing medical personnel to not acknowledge the use of force by Indian soldiers according to latest international reports.
An exclusive report by The Independent is in stark contrast to New Delhi’s official stance that ‘all is well’ in Jammu and Kashmir since Modi Government revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
Despite a strict clampdown on movement and information, foreign media has reported protests breaking out across the Kashmir valley with Indian forces allegedly using live ammunition, shotgun pellets and other tactics to restrain agitators.
Late in the afternoon of 9 August, Fehmeeda Bano, a 35-year-old mother with two young sons, was at her home in Bemina on the outskirts of Srinagar when clashes erupted between security forces and protesters outside. Her husband, 42-year-old Rafiq Shagoo, took the children inside a room as they started to panic.
“After the protesters were chased away, the security forces started pelting stones at the houses, breaking glass windows,” Rafiq Shagoo recalls while talking to The Independent. “If a vehicle parked outside the house came in their way, they damaged them [too].” The 42-year-old adds that he heard “police firing at least four teargas canisters just outside the house”.
“Fehmeeda was at the window as smoke, in huge quantities, entered through their window. I could hear her coughing,” recalls neighbour Taslema. “I could see her struggling to breathe. She had inhaled high [amounts of] teargas,” adds Shagoo. He took her to the Jhelum Valley College Hospital where Fehmeeda breathed her last within 40 minutes.
When Shagoo went to collect the death certificate he was told that it was with the Indian police. After days of efforts, he was given a death certificate that stated that his wife died of “sudden cardiac pulmonary arrest”.
“They lied, they dodged me,” Shagoo told The Independent. “When I managed to get the certificate, it didn’t mention the real cause of death. I am not able to register the real cause of my wife’s death. They have been told by the authorities to manipulate the cause of death to keep the casualty record clear.”
In a similar case, victim Ayoub Khan’s family was prevented by the Indian police from conducting a funeral procession and limiting the number of attendants to no more than 10.
Ayoub died when a couple of teargas canisters thrown by the occupying forces during a clash, exploded between his legs and he started suffocating. “When we reached the hospital, doctors told us he was already dead,” says his brother Shabbir. “We asked them to mention on the record that he died due to teargas, but they refused.”
Even after they got the body home in an ambulance, security forces personnel broke up a crowd gathering at the home by opening fire with shotgun pellets, injuring Shabir and other family members.
“It is clear that in any case against the police, they won’t mention the real cause of death,” says Shabir. “It’s injustice, we aren’t able to register the casualties. We are helpless.”