Srinagar: Repression in Kashmir features prominently in Amnesty International’s 2016-17 report on the state of human rights in India, released on Tuesday. The report says that Indian authorities used “repressive laws” to curb freedom of expression and silence critical voices, and “In Jammu and Kashmir, security forces used unnecessary or excessive force against demonstrators.”
In the report, ‘The State of the World’s Human Rights’ — an analysis of the situation in 159 countries, the rights body has accused the Indian state of using “oppressive laws” to silence student activists, academics, journalists and human rights defenders.
The report has highlighted the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez and also drawn attention to the ban on Kashmir Reader newspaper in October last year.
“In July, the state government prevented the publication of local newspapers in Kashmir for three days. In September, Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights defender, was arrested and detained for over two months on spurious grounds, a day after he was prevented from travelling to a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland,” the report says.
“In October, the government ordered a Srinagar-based newspaper to cease printing and publication on vague grounds,” it says.
During the civil uprising in Kashmir that erupted after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 and lasted for over six months, during which more than 80 civilians were killed and 13,000 injured, many of them severely in their eyes, the Jammu and Kashmir government imposed a curfew for over two months.
“A suspension on private landline, mobile and internet service providers undermined a range of rights and residents said it left them unable to reach urgent medical assistance,” the report mentions.
Amnesty has, in the report, noted a grim picture of human rights in the whole of South Asia, especially in Kashmir. The report mentions the role of armed groups fuelling “insecurity” and committing abuses such as abductions and unlawful killings in central and north-eastern India and in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“South Asia is seeing a worrying rollback of human rights as various governments invoke sovereignty and security to threaten freedoms, shrinking the space for human rights activists to operate and make their voices heard,” Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, said in a statement issued with the report.
The report adds, “In India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, journalists and bloggers have been threatened, intimidated and even killed by non-state actors for exercising their right to freedom of expression. At the same time, across the region, old repressive laws are being used alongside new ones to limit human rights both online and offline.”
Talking about human rights at a global level, Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s head of the global movement, warns that the phrase “never again” has become “meaningless” as states fail to react to mass atrocities.