Internal conflicts are challenging for all countries, but most of all for democracies because the fight is not only for victory over the insurgents, but to do so while preserving democratic values. And the primary democratic value is protection of the human rights of innocent civilians caught up in the battle zone.
Since Independence, India has been fighting insurgencies, from the Northeast states to the Maoist heartland, Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir. Among these conflicts, Jammu and Kashmir remains the most troubled and the most visible. In scrutinising the government’s human rights record in Kashmir, attention is primarily directed at the uniformed forces that are in the lead in carrying out operations against insurgents or terrorists. The Indian Army is often accused of paying only lip service to human rights. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which enables the army to operate in internal security duties, has been described as an abomination—a draconian law under which the army carries out human rights violations with impunity.