In the first report of its kind, a report on the impact on human rights during the lockdowns in Jammu and Kashmir has described the situation as very grim and asked for the recall of all wrongs done since August 5 last year, a watershed date when the state of Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special status and statehood.
The report titled “Jammu and Kashmir: The Impact of Lockdowns on Human Rights”, compiled by The Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, of which former judge of the Supreme Court Madan B Lokur and former member group of interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir Radha Kumar are co-chairs, said the impact of the lockdowns on education, economic and health sectors have been near catastrophic.
During the past 11 months — August 2019 to July 2020 — it noted that the counter-insurgency concerns had been given absolute priority over public, civilian and human security, leading to an across-the-board violation of human rights, including the vitiation of protections such as habeas corpus, prevention of illegal detention and strict restrictions on arrest and detention of children.
“There has been a denial of the right to bail and fair and speedy trial, coupled with misuse of draconian legislation, such as the Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), to settle dissent,” the report further noted.
It noted with a huge concern that during the 11 months of lockdown, first beginning on August 4 midnight, a day before the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was done away with and the state split into two Union Territories, frequent closures, harassment at barricades and checkpoints and restrictions on mobile telephony and internet connectivity were observed.
The next part of the lockdown in succession has been traced to the pandemic necessitated administrative measures to contain the virus.
The most significant part in the report is that in August 2019, constitutional changes in J-K had not only given an opportunity to renew its campaign of destabilisation of Kashmir, the radicalisation of the youth and intensified infiltration but also brought China into the picture, making it a trilateral issue.
“China’s attempts to mobilise the UN Security Council against the August changes and its own Army’s in May 2020 intrusions in eastern Ladakh have added further diplomatic and security concerns for the Indian government. They have also highlighted a tri-lateralisation of the dispute over Kashmir between India, Pakistan and China, lending a new edge to the strategic China-Pakistan nexus against India, specifically in Jammu and Kashmir.”
The Forum has demanded an immediate repeal of the PSA and release of remaining political leaders in detention. Among others, PDP president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti continue to be in detention. The 4G network is yet to be restored, despite the claims by the Centre to have brought the situation under control.