An Amnesty International India report on Wednesday urged the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women set up offices in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the people there had not had any redressal of their rights violations after the closure of the State Commissions a year ago.
Marking the first anniversary of the revocation of J&K’s special status under Article 370 and splitting the State into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019, the organisation also called on the government to release all political leaders, journalists and activists from detention; restore 4G mobile Internet; de-congest prisons and start an independent investigation into attacks on journalists.
Seven Commissions wrapped up
In a report on the situation a year after Article 370 was read down, Amnesty noted that seven State-level Commissions, including the human rights panel, had been wrapped up.
“Given the chronic history of human rights abuses in the past in the region, Amnesty International India recommends that the NHRC set up a branch office for Jammu and Kashmir to facilitate easy access to the complaint filing process for the local people,” the report said.
Amnesty also asked the NHRC to appoint a special monitor for the region and to take up cases pending with the erstwhile State Commission. It also recommended that the NCW set up a J&K cell for addressing problems faced by women.
In a statement, Amnesty International India executive director Avinash Kumar said: “Over the last one year, the Government of India has been systematically dismantling all avenues for justice for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. With zero representation, protracted Internet restrictions, arbitrary use of some of India’s most stringent laws, verbal orders of detention and crippling of the local media — most of this disproportionately higher in Kashmir — it’s been a complete year since we have heard the people of Jammu and Kashmir speak.”
Absolute violation of obligations
It said while it acknowledged that there may be security concerns that merit restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, the curbs should be for a limited timeframe and as per the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights “to which India is a state party”.
“However, in an absolute violation of India’s international obligations, the entire population of Kashmir has been deprived of their right to freedom of expression and opinion through protracted communication restrictions since the last one year. This has been compounded by a censored media, continuing detention of political leaders, arbitrary restrictions due to the pandemic with little to no redressal,” the Amnesty statement said.