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Kashmir: The Dirty War

If the jails are full in Kashmir, it is not because of preventive detention. The number of detainees is reported by official sources to be less than 500, and by non-official sources as about 1,500. These are very small numbers considering that 35,000 people have been arrested since January 1990 (official figure). When I pointed this out to someone, the answer seemed pretty obvious to him. He asked "how can the number of detainees increase if instead of being detained, people are deliberately killed?" In the context of Kashmir, if this is the only choice, detention, for all its abuses, seems positively benign. Indeed it could be argued that in Kashmir the immediate task of human rights groups should be to focus attention on preventing custodial deaths, even if in the short term this means accepting greater use of detention.

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