• Campaigns

India: Fear for safety: Bashir Ahmad Butt

, Index number: ASA 20/011/1997

Bashir Ahmad Butt, a lawyer and Vice-President of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), appears to have been taken hostage by members of the Border Security Force, in an attempt to force the surrender of his brother-in-law, Ghulam Rasool Dar. Fears for his safety are heightened by reports that he was threatened with death and severely beaten before he was taken away in the early hours of 4 March 1997. Members of the BSF also reportedly beat Ghulam Rasool's wife and sons. A First Information Report (FIR) has been filed with police, and a habeas corpus petition will reportedly be filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Srinagar, on 5 March.

EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 20/11/97
EXTRA 29/97 Fear for safety 4 March 1997
INDIABashir Ahmad Butt (50), lawyer
Bashir Ahmad Butt, Vice-President of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front
(JKLF) appears to have been taken hostage by members of the Indian security
forces in an attempt to force the surrender of his brother-in-law Ghulam Rasool
Dar. Fears for Bashir Ahmad Butt's safety are heightened by reports that he
was threatened with death and severely beaten before he was taken away in the
early hours of 4 March 1997.
At about 11.45pm on 3 March, personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF --
a paramilitary force operating in the state of Jammu and Kashmir) entered the
house of Ghulam Rasool Dar in Sant Nagar district of Srinagar, looking for
him. Ghulam Rasool Dar has been targeted for attack by members of the security
forces in the past. In February 1997 he was reportedly beaten by members of
the BSF during a raid on his home and is currently recovering in hospital in
New Delhi.
Members of the BSF reportedly beat Ghulam Rasool’s wife, Mumtaz Begum, and
his two sons -- Faizal Rasool (18) and Fahad Rasool (13) -- who were also in
the house at the time, destroyed several possessions and took away a large
amount of money. They reportedly stayed at the house for around two and a half
hours.
When BSF personnel failed to find Ghulam Rasool Dar, they took away Bashir
Ahmad Butt from the house at about 1am on 4 March. Witnesses claim that the
BSF commander in charge threatened to kill Bashir Ahmad Butt if Ghulam Rasool
Dar did not surrender to his forces. Bashir Ahmad Butt was reportedly severely
beaten before he was taken away by BSF personnel.
A First Information Report (FIR) was filed at the local police station on 4
March 1997 concerning Bashir Ahmad Butt’s arrest, and the police are reportedly
investigating. However, they have told colleagues of Bashir Ahmad Butt that
as yet they have no information about where he is being held. A habeas corpus
petition will reportedly be filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Srinagar
on 5 March.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Bashir Ahmad Butt -- a lawyer by profession -- is a leading member of the JKLF,
one of several political organizations in the state which forms part of the
All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a political organization comprising
some 30 political groups with different political agendas which, however, agree
in opposing accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. In March 1996, the
Government of India renewed its ban on the JKLF as an unlawful organization
under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Bashir Ahmad Butt spent several years in detention in Jammu and Kashmir under
special legislation in force in the state before being released in 1994. Yasin
Malik, president of the JKLF, was himself detained without trial for several
years under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and was
released in 1994. He has since been arrested along with other political leaders
on several occasions and held for short periods after leading protests.
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Since early 1990 there has been an increasingly violent campaign in Jammu and
Kashmir for independence from India. Armed separatists have kidnapped and killed
officials, members of the paramilitary forces and civilians. Amnesty
International has repeatedly expressed concern to the Indian government about
reports of deliberate killings of unarmed civilians by members of the security
forces, about widespread allegations of torture and rape by members of the
security forces and about arbitrary arrests of suspected separatists, an
increasing number of whom are reported to have "disappeared" or to have died
in custody. Investigations into incidents of this nature are rarely carried
out, and whey they are, are usually carried out by police or army officials
rather than by an independent and impartial body.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English or your own language:
- urging the authorities to immediately disclose the whereabouts of Bashir
Ahmad Butt;
- opposing the apparent holding of Bashir Ahmad Butt as a hostage to force
the surrender of Ghulam Rasool Dar;
- calling for his immediate and unconditional release unless there are
recognizably criminal charges against him;
- expressing concern at reports that he was severely beaten by members of the
BSF and seeking assurances that he will not be subjected to torture in custody,
and that he will be given any medical attention he may need;
- urging the authorities to ensure that, if Bashir Ahmad Butt remains in
detention on recognizable criminal charges, he be provided with prompt and
regular access to his family and a lawyer of his choice;
- calling for a prompt independent and impartial investigation into reports
that the family of Ghulam Rasool Dar, including his wife and two sons, were
beaten by members of the BSF.
APPEALS TO:
Dr Farooq Abdullah
Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir
Raj Bhavan, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Telegrams: Chief Minister, Srinigar, India
Fax: +91 191 545649
Salutation: Dear Chief Minister
General K.V. Krishna Rao
Governor of Jammu and Kashmir
Raj Bhavan
Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir, India
Telegrams: Governor Rao, Jammu & Kashmir, India
Salutation: Dear Governor
COPIES TO:
Mr Indrajit Gupta
Minister of Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
North Block
New Delhi 110 001, India
Faxes: +91 11 301 5750
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and to diplomatic representatives of INDIA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 5 April 1997.

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