Unilateral decisions about IoK likely to increase tensions: Amnesty International

Amnesty International India on Monday cautioned that New Delhi’s decision to revoke Indian-occupied Kashmir’s (IoK) special status “without consulting [the region’s] stakeholders and amidst a complete clampdown on civil liberties” could lead to increased tension in the region.

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Earlier, the India government rushed through a presidential decree to terminate Article 370 of the Constitution which grants special status to Indian occupied Kashmir. An indefinite curfew was imposed in IoK and elected leaders were put under house arrest.

By revoking Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in IoK and settle there permanently. Kashmiris, as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government, see the move as an attempt to weaken the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.

In a press statement, issued hours after the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind signed an order revoking Article 370 of the constitution, rights group said, “the unilateral decision of the Government of India to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under the Constitution of India without consulting J&K stakeholders and amidst a complete clampdown on civil liberties and communications blackout is likely to inflame prevailing tensions, alienate the people in the state and increase the risk of further human rights violations.”

The rights group pointed out that the revocation of Article 370 is “expected to cause unrest and wide-scale protests in the state” but the Indian government’s “heavy-handed” approach to curb protests and demonstrations had “led to gross human rights violations such as blinding, killing and traumatising people over the past few years”.

Thousands of additional troops had been deployed in the territory and a blanket curfew had been imposed that restricted residents’ movements and denied them their right to peaceful protest, the statement noted.

It further said that “blanket and indefinite suspensions of telecommunications services in J&K are also not in line with international human rights standards”.

Amnesty International India head Aakar Patel was quoted in the statement as saying, “What J&K has been witnessing over the last few days — the additional deployment of thousands of security forces, a blanket blockade of telephone and internet services, restrictions on peaceful assembly — has already pushed the people of J&K to the edge. To make matters worse, key political stakeholders have been placed under house arrest. Important decisions about J&K are being decided by the Parliament without absolutely any consultation with the people.”

The statement asserted that “an end to the abuses” in the occupied territory could not be achieved until the residents are allowed to have a say in the matter.

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