Amnesty International India on Tuesday said the Supreme Court’s refusal to pass any orders on lifting the restrictions placed in Jammu and Kashmir was a blow to the people of the state. The human rights organisation urged the government to ease restrictions on communication channels and the media in the state and to release political leaders.
Earlier in the day, the top court had said the Centre should be given more time to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been under a tight security and information clampdown since August 4. Last week, the Centre announced that it was revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and splitting the state into two Union Territories.
“A complete clampdown on civil liberties is only likely to increase tensions, alienate the people and increase the risk of further human rights violations,” the organisation said, expressing deep concern on restrictions on freedom of movement and expression in the state.
Amnesty International India said it was concerned about the “arbitrary detention” of political leaders and activists, and the “impairment of the press to freely report on the current developments and act as a bridge for the voices from the region”. The organisation said it was concerned that “this may not be where violations end”.
Former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are among several leaders under arrest since August 5.
“While little information is coming out of Srinagar, there is no news from the rest of the region,” the organisation said. “Websites of local news media continue to be last updated on 5 August. This gives rise to grave concerns of human rights violations that may occur yet remain unreported due to Government of India’s near-total control over information coming out of Jammu & Kashmir.”
The organisation’s statement further added: “While the authorities have the right to maintain public order, use of pellet guns and other weapons are in defiance of international human rights standards. Amnesty International India is concerned that the continuing communication blackout denies the people of Jammu and Kashmir their key human right to freedom of expression, which India is obliged to respect under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party.”