Amnesty Report Once Again Raises Concern over Violations of Civil Liberties in Kashmir

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Security forces patrol the streets of Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

The police in Kashmir continues to carry out ‘unlawful killings’ with impunity under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, says the report

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — The Amnesty international has come down heavily on India for clamping down on civil liberties and allowing the security forces to operate with impunity in Kashmir.
In its latest report on the situation of human rights in 149 countries, the global human rights body alleged that the police in Kashmir continued to carry out “unlawful killings” with impunity under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

The report titled “The State of the World’s Human Rights 2020/2021” said that even a year after revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under Indian constitution, the clampdown on civil liberties and restrictions on communications services continued.

“Political leaders such as Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who were administratively detained in 2019, were released in 2020″.

Accusing the Union government of continuing to silence those who demanded accountability and imposed a harsh media blackout, the report says at least 18 journalists were either physically attacked by police or summoned to police stations.

The report takes a dig at the controversial media policy introduced by Jammu and Kashmir administration in 2020 and said by this move “dissent was further suppressed”.

The report notes the shutting of office of Kashmir Times in Srinagar whose editor Anuradha Bhasin had challenged internet shutdown in the Supreme Court in August 2019 following the imposition of military lockdown.

The report also mentions the raids by the National Investigation Agency on the office of human rights groups and residence of civil society activists including Khurram Parvez and three of his associates, and Parveena Ahanger, who had reported extensively on human rights abuses in Kashmir.

“The NIA alleged that the activists had raised funds for “carrying out secessionist and separatist activities” in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Moreover, the report slams Indian government for arresting human rights activists including Father Stan Swami.

Amnesty International shut down its office in India in September 2020 after the government opened cases of financial fraud against it and froze its accounts. The group alleged that the action was an act of reprisal over work critical of the government.

“This occurred shortly after Amnesty International India had published briefings demanding accountability for grave human rights violations carried out by the Delhi Police and the government during the Delhi riots and in Jammu and Kashmir,” the report alleges.

The report has also criticized the Modi government’s handling of coronavirus crises terming last year’s lockdown as “punitive”. It slams the government on crackdown against anti-CAA protestors and handling of ongoing farm protests.

According to the report there was widespread impunity and lack of accountability for vigilante mobs and police officials who indulged in violence against religious minorities.
Last year, Amnesty released a damning report on Delhi riots where it said the police “committed serious human rights violations” during anti-Muslims riots in Delhi earlier 2020.

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