UN human rights experts have asked the Indian government to immediately end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests imposed in what they said was ‘Indian-Administered Kashmir.’
In a statement issued by the United Nations Human Rights, its experts feared that the extreme measures adopted by the Indian government (as it revoked Article 370 on Jammu and Kashmir) would ‘exacerbate tensions in the region.’
In a series of exclusive reports, Janta Ka Reporter’s editor-in-chief had highlighted the misery faced by the population at large in Kashmir due to a complete shutdown in the valley. Although the government and its supporters in the media have denied any reports of hardships in Kashmir, Rifat found people being forced to live a miserable life in the absence of access to communication, food and medicines. The government has partially restored landline phones although mobile phones and internet services continue to be banned in the valley.
The UNHR experts said in their statement, “The shutdown of the internet and telecommunication networks, without justification from the Government, are inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality. The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence.”
“We remind the Indian authorities that the restrictions imposed by the Indian Government are intrinsically disproportionate because they preclude considerations of the specific circumstances of each proposed assembly,” they added.
They also expressed their displeasure over the indiscriminate arrests of political figures, who are being kept at different places in solitary confinement for the last 18 days. They said, “We are gravely concerned about allegations that the whereabouts of some of those detained is not known as well as the general heightened risk of enforced disappearances, which may proliferate against the backdrop of mass arrests and restricted access to the internet and other communications networks.”
The experts said that they were deeply concerned by reports that security forces were conducting ‘night raids on private homes leading to the arrests of young people.’ “Such detentions could constitute serious human rights violations. The allegations must be thoroughly investigated by the authorities, and, if confirmed, those responsible must be held accountable,” they added.
UNHR also expressed serious concern about the use of excessive force against protesters, including the use of live ammunition, which could amount to violations of the right to life. They reminded the Indian government of its duty to ‘use the minimum force necessary when policing protests.’