Five years ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross told U.S. diplomats in New Delhi that the Indian government "condones torture" and systematically abused detainees in the disputed region of Kashmir.
The Red Cross told the officials that hundreds of detainees were subjected to beatings, electrocutions and acts of sexual humiliation, the Guardian newspaper of London reported Thursday evening.
The disclosure comes from the trove of secret State Department cables released to a number of news outlets by the document-dumping website WikiLeaks.
In the '90s and early part of the 21st century, an insurgency of separatist and Islamic militants that received some support from Pakistan fought against Indian police and security forces.
The Red Cross made the shocking allegations after privately interviewing 1,296 detainees in detention centers in the Jammu and Kashmir regions and other sites in India between 2002 and 2004, the Guardian reported. With non-private interviews included, the organization met a total of 1,491 detainees during the two-year period, the Guardian reported.
From the interviews, 852 detainees said they were abused, including 681 who said they were tortured and 171 who said they were beaten, the Guardian reported.
Of those who said they were tortured:
- 381 said they were suspended from the ceiling
- 302 said "sexual" acts were done to them
- 294 said prison personnel sat on a bar across their thighs, crushing the muscles in their legs
- 234 said they were tortured with water
- 181 said their legs were "split 180 degrees"
"Numbers add up to more than 681, as many detainees were subjected to more than one form of IT [ill-treatment]," a cable said. "The abuse always takes place in the presence of officers and ... detainees were rarely militants (they are routinely killed), but persons connected to or believed to have information about the insurgency".
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