Non-governmental organisation Amnesty International India on Thursday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately lift the communications blackout in Jammu and Kashmir and hold dialogue with the people of the state.
The Centre imposed a curfew in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 and cut off mobile networks hours before rescinding the state’s special status. The state has witnessed sporadic protests since then, especially in Kashmir. Curfew has been partially lifted in Jammu but remains in place in the Valley.
“It is a paradox that as India celebrates its 73rd Independence Day today, the people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to be subjected to a lockdown for the past 10 days,” said the human rights organisation. “Amnesty International India calls on the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, to lift the communications blackout and listen and engage with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
The organisation’s India head Aakar Patel said Modi must immediately end the information blackout if he “believes that his decisions regarding Jammu and Kashmir have the support of the people of India”. Patel added: “The prime minister must listen to the people in the region, engage with them and hear what they have to say when it comes to decisions that affect their lives.”
The human rights activist said any restriction imposed in the state must be limited in duration and scope, and must be for a legitimate purpose as stated under international law. The United Nations’ special rapporteur on freedom of expression and other global human rights experts have said shutting down an entire communications system can never be justified under international law, Patel added.
Amnesty pointed out that Opposition leaders and activists in the state had been silenced. There is no information on the whereabouts of former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, it added. “The government of India must realise that the ongoing complete clampdown on civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir will only likely increase tensions, alienate the people and increase the risk of further human rights violations.”