Residents of a dozen villages in the disputed Kashmir region say Indian troops have raided their homes in an apparent campaign of intimidation.
In more than 50 interviews, residents told The Associated Press that soldiers inflicted beatings and electric shocks and poisoned their food supplies or killed livestock.
The raids have occurred since the government in New Delhi stripped the region of its statehood in August.
Since the crackdown began, at least 3,000 people, mostly young men, have been arrested, according to police officials and records reviewed by the AP. About 120 of those have been slapped with the Public Safety Act, a law that permits holding people for up to two years without trial, the records showed.
Thousands of others have been detained in police lockups to be screened for potential to join protests. Some have been freed and asked to report back a few days later. Some are only held in the daytime, released at night to sleep at home, while their parents are told to bring them back the next day.
Army spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia dismissed the villagers’ accounts as “completely baseless and false” and asserted the Indian army values human rights.
The conflict over Kashmir has existed since the late 1940s, when India and Pakistan won independence from the British empire. The countries have fought two of their three subsequent wars over Kashmir, and each administers a portion of the region.
The UN rights chief on Monday voiced alarm over the situation in Kashmir.
“I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris,” Michelle Bachelet said in her opening statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
She pointed among other things to “restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists.”