Amnesty International – one of the foremost human rights advocacy group in the world, has issued a press release asking Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end the 10-day old communications blackout and lockdown in the Valley. The Central government has imposed a curfew in the valley since revoking the special status given to the state under Article 370 on August 5.
Amnesty International has called for an end to the lockdown on the day when India celebrates her 73rd Independence Day. It has also urged Modi to engage with people in the Valley and end with the government’s ‘near total control over the information coming out of the region’.
The NGO has also raised concerns over the treatment being meted out to the state’s political opposition leaders and activists, specifically mentioning that no details were available on former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. The human rights group has pointed out that according to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, shutting down entire parts of communications systems can never be justified under international human rights law.
Prime Minister Modi, in an interview to IANS had said that, “The people of India, irrespective of what their political preference is, have supported the steps taken in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. This is about the nation, not politics.”
Responding to this, Aakar Patel, Head of Amnesty International India, says, “If Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes that his decisions regarding Jammu and Kashmir have the support of the people of India, then he must immediately lift the 10-day-old communications blackout in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Patel added that as India is celebrating her freedom “the people of Jammu and Kashmir are unable to contact their loved ones and express their views freely. Any restrictions must always be limited in duration and scope, demonstrably necessary and proportionate for a legitimate purpose defined under international law.”
Amnesty International observed that the clampdown on civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to run the risk of human rights violations as it leads to an increase in tensions and alienation of the people.