The Kashmir Valley has a complicated history of uncertainty, unfairness, upheaval and uprising, making it the most militarised zone in the world. The state that has been stuck in a tug-of-war between India and Pakistan since 1947 continues to simmer in the unrest. After the Article 370 that gave it a special status was scrapped, internet was banned for six months in the Valley, and has been partially restored with restrictions only a few day ago.
But while activists are constantly calling out authorities for brutality, internet crackdowns, unreasonable curfews and human rights abuses, India’s Chief of Defence Staff just dropped some information which is even more disturbing. According to NDTV, General Bipin Rawat, India’s Chief of Defence Staff, admitted that the country is operating de-radicalisation camps where young Kashmiris who have been “completely radicalised” can be kept in isolation, the way the US had started such camps after the 9/11 terror attacks.
During a panel discussion at the Raisina Dialogue 2020 in New Delhi, Rawat revealed that kids in Kashmir as young as 10 or 12 years old were being radicalised. So, he felt it was important that institutes be established to counter this. "These people need to be taken out separately, possibly taken into some de-radicalisation camps. We have de-radicalisation camps going on in our country. Let me tell you, Pakistan is doing the same. They have understood. Some of the terrorism they are sponsoring is hitting back at them," he said.
However, he did not reveal any specific details about these camps and many reports interpret what he said as a message urging India to start such camps, and not that they already exist. Still, the news remains shocking, especially as India gears up to build mass detention centres across the country that many suspect are to send those who are not included in the controversial National Register of Citizenship (NRC), even as authorities continue to deny this claim.
While de-radicalisation camps are commonly advocated in countries that face threats of terrorism and have been found in places like Pakistan and China, they have been heavily criticised for their dehumanising nature and hushed secrecy with which they operate, with some reports even saying they don’t actually help radicalised citizens let go off extremist ideas.
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