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.
Earlier on Monday, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party stripped Kashmiris of the special autonomy they had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order. An indefinite curfew was imposed in IoK and elected leaders were put under house arrest.
By repealing 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 dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
“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,” read a press statement that was released after Indian President Ram Nath Kovind signed an order revoking Article 370 of the constitution.
The rights group pointed out that the revocation of Article 370 “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”
The statement noted that thousands of additional troops had been deployed in the territory and a blanket curfew had been imposed that restricted residents’ movement and denied them their right to peaceful protest.
It further said that “blanket and indefinite suspensions of telecommunications services in J&K are also not in line with international human rights standards”.
“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 quoted Amnesty International India head Aakar Patel as saying.
The statement insisted 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.