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UN Human Rights Council urges India to end communication blackout in Kashmir

The blackout is a form of collective punishment, the rights experts said.

New Delhi: 

Even as the government claimed that communication services are slowly being restored in Jammu and Kashmir after they were suspended for nearly two weeks following the announcement on August 5 to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate the state, the United Nations Human Rights Council urged the Centre to end the communications blackout.

The statement comes amid reports that Pakistan is planning to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN Human Rights Council. The rights experts called up the government to end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests in Kashmir and expressed concern that the steps imposed by the government would only aggravate tension in the Valley.

“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, adding, “The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence.”

Saying that they were deeply concerned about the reports that security forces have been conducting "night raids on private homes," and arresting people, they noted, “Such detentions could constitute serious human rights violations."

“We remind the Indian authorities that the restrictions imposed by the Indian Government are intrinsically disproportionate, because they preclude considerations of the specific circumstances of each proposed assembly,” the statement said.

“We are gravely concerned about allegations that the whereabouts of some of those detained is not known as well as the general heightened risk of enforced disappearances, which may proliferate against the backdrop of mass arrests and restricted access to the internet and other communications networks,” the statement further said.

This is the third time this year that the rights group expressed concerns about India. Earlier, voicing their concern over the NRC, the group had said NRC process could exacerbate the xenophobic climate and fuel religious intolerance and discrimination.

They had also condemned India's move to deport Rohingyas to Myanmar, saying, "We are dismayed by the decision of the Indian government to continue forced returns of Rohingya to Myanmar, where they face high risk of attacks, reprisals and other forms of persecution because of their ethnic and religious identity."

Source: The Week

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