UN criticizes India for its internet restrictions in IOJ&K

India's imposed lockdown on Kashmir still continues, with increasing restrictions and violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people. The UN has sent over three letters to the Indian government, but India has failed to reply within the stipulated 60 day period and refuses to engage in dialogue with the organization. Amid a grave human rights situation in IOJ&K, the UN has criticized continued restrictions on internet for the citizens of Kashmir.

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A UN human rights report has criticized India for its continued restrictions on Internet and holding of peaceful protests in occupied Kashmir.

David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, made remarks while presenting his report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

India violates UN resolution 

India annexed Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August 2019 in violation of UN resolutions and placed it under a military lockdown, imprisoning all political leaders.

On July 4, 2020, United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) made public 14 cases of worst possible human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir after the Indian government failed to respond to their concerns within the stipulated 60 days.

Four UNHRC Rapporteurs on torture, extrajudicial executions, minority issues and freedom of religion under HRC charter and mandate had written to Indian government on May 4th, 2020, to respond back on the 14 cases and countless other cases involving grave abuse of human rights in Kashmir after its annexation on Aug 5th, 2019.

India’s refusal to engage in dialogue with the UN

The UN Rapporteurs in the May 4th letter lamented that Indian government had not responded to their earlier letters on Aug 16, 2019, and February 27, 2020, on the atrocities in Kashmir. The two earlier letters questioned the restrictions in Kashmir on rights of expression and assembly and dissent following Indian annexation of Kashmir.

Read more: UN seeks probe into Kashmir regarding incidents of torture and killing

In another letter on May 6th, 2020, eight Rapporteurs of UNHRC and one Vice-Chair of a Working Group raised serious concern on the new anti-terrorism law passed by Indian parliament just before Indian annexation of Kashmir in July/Aug 2019.

UNHRC questioned the detention of any accused for an extended period of six months under the new anti-terror law. And as to why the burden of proof has been shifted to an accused to prove innocence on any allegation of terror.

Questions were raised on powers to raid, inspect etc., which are serious breaches of privacy. The letter also raised serious concern that minorities, civil rights activists and human rights defenders in India will become extremely vulnerable under such law.

In another letter on February 28th, 2020, eight Rapporteurs of UNHRC and one Vice-Chair of a Working Group questioned the Indian Citizenship Act of December 2019 which discriminates against Muslims and bars them to get Indian citizenship whereas people from different religious beliefs who entered Indian before Dec 2014 are eligible for it. The letter also heavily criticise excessive use of force to quell protests against this Act which resulted in death of over 50 and injuries to hundreds.

India’s violation of Kashmiri human rights

Of very special and consistent concern for UNHRC has been the grave human right situation in Kashmir after its annexation. The latest UNHRC letter of May 4th, 2020 lists 14 cases with details and held that four out of these victims died during extreme torture and abuse by Indian army and police.

Read more: “India-washing” continues in Occupied Kashmir: rights report

Among the worst incidents quoted in May 4th, 2020 letter by UNHRC is the case of Yawar Ahmed Bhat, a 15-year-old from Pulwama district who died on Sept 19th 2019 due to police beating and police alleged he committed suicide. A similar case is of Riyaz Ahmed from Kupwarra in North Kashmir who was detained for four days in early September 2019 and was severely tortured. Police told his family that he committed suicide which was challenged by relatives and mass protests erupted. A Magisterial enquiry was ordered and findings are still awaited.

One Irfan Ahmed Fafoo, only 20 was made to walk barefoot on broken glass after he was arrested with his 60-year-old father. In another unfortunate incident, Arif Wani from Shopian district was taken to an army camp after Indian soldiers raided his house. His screams during torture were broadcast over loudspeakers to surrounding villages.

UNHRC Rapporteurs asked Indian government to share information about police and judicial investigation into the 14 cases listed in its letter and in other cases. The Indian government has not replied to this and other letters and continues to violate UN Charter and International conventions.

Read more: India urged to withdraw media repressions in Occupied-Kashmir

David Kaye called on India to restore the internet facility for the incarcerated Kashmiri people. He reiterated his call for a country visit to occupied Kashmir for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

Watch Dr. Mooed Pirzada and Najma Minhas discuss the implications for Pakistan and Kashmir in the wake of the Ladakh incident, with President AJK Sardar Masood Khan:

Online Int’l News with additional input by GVS News Desk