The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday urged the Centre to end the communications blackout in Jammu and Kashmir and restriction imposed on peaceful protests. The statement came a day after Pakistan said it planned to raise the Kashmir matter at the UN Rights Council.

Jammu and Kashmir has been under lockdown since August 5. Several political leaders have been detained or arrested, and politicians from New Delhi have also not been allowed to visit the region to review the situation.

The UN rights experts in a statement said that the restrictions imposed in the state “would exacerbate tensions in the region”. “The shutdown of the internet and telecommunication networks, without justification from the Government, are inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality,” the experts said.

Mobile and internet services were suspended for the 18th day on Thursday in most areas of Kashmir, PTI reported. However, the movement of people and traffic was reportedly increasing in the city and other district headquarters of the Valley.

The UN rights experts said the restrictions imposed were “intrinsically disproportionate” and does not take into account considerations of the specific circumstances of each proposed assembly. They also expressed concern about alleged raids by security forces at night, where young people were arrested. The experts said such detentions could “constitute serious human rights violations”. It added: “The allegations must be thoroughly investigated by the authorities, and, if confirmed, those responsible must be held accountable.”

The experts said they were gravely concerned about the whereabouts of those already in detention and warned about heightened risk of enforced disappearances. They said it “may proliferate against the backdrop of mass arrests and restricted access to the internet and other communications networks.”

“India has the responsibility to use the minimum force necessary when policing protests,” the experts said in conclusion. “This means that the use of deadly force is a measure permissible only as last resort and to protect life.”

The Centre has deployed thousands of security personnel in the region to deal with any law-and-order problem. While authorities have claimed they are working on restoring communication lines gradually, sporadic protests in the Valley have slowed down the process. Reports suggest that authorities have used excessive force against protestors, with tear-gas shells and pellet guns being fired.

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