‘Kashmir has in many ways been the litmus test of Indian democracy. As this report indicates, we have failed miserably,’ says a rights body report on J&K
The overall security situation in Kashmir Valley has been going downhill since 2014 and there hardly seems any improvement in the situation since August 5, 2019, says a human rights report on Jammu and Kashmir.
The 72-page report titled ‘Jammu and Kahmiri: The Impact of lockdowns on human rights (August 2019-July 2020)’ says that despite the spike in violence during 2008 and 2010, security was not allowed to go out of control.
The report was prepared by the Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir and was released by Radha Kumar, former Interlocutor on Kashmir and Justice Madan Lokur, retired Supreme Court judge, co-chairs of the forum.
According to the report, the terror threats witnessed sharpest decrease during the years of New Delhi-Kashmir and New Delhi- Islamabad peace and dialogue process (2003-2007).
“The sustained downward trend continued to 2014,” claims the report.
To corroborate its claim, the report refers to government data provided in a counter affidavit to the writ petition of Mohammd Akbar Lone and Anr that the incidents of terrorist violence reduced drastically from a peak of 4522 in 2001 and 170 in 2013 and the reduction in fatalities (civilian, militants and security forces) was equally dramatic – from 3552 in 2001 to 135 in 2001.
The report says that the absence of dialogue in the region has given rise to a host of issues. “The absence of a multi-dimensional dialogue for settling the Kashmir issue between the Centre and Kashmiri leaders, and India and Pakistan, has given rise to anger, despondency and despair among people” reads the report.
The report says that strong arm tactics adopted by the government post-August 5 last year, when New Delhi put paid to the special position of Jammu and Kashmir and spilt it into two federally controlled territories —Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, has heightened the sense of anxiety among the youth.
“Prolonged lockdowns, arrests and detentions; restrictions on media and 4G mobile internet services, appear to have caused worrisome disquiet and seething youth anger,” the report points out.
It says that there have been systematic human rights violations in the region since August 5. “This conclusion is arrived at by looking at the human rights provisions of the Indian, and Jammu and Kashmir, constitutions and subsequent jurisprudence, as well as selected international agreements to which India is a party. The rights violated vary from those conferred under the right to life jurisprudence to the rights to health, education, work, freedom of expression and privacy.”
The report has upbraided the controversial media policy of Jammu and Kashmir Government. The policy has already caught flak from various journalists’ bodies and has been seen to strong arm the journalist into submission.
“…the bureaucracy is under instruction to sit in judgment over what constitutes anti-social and anti-national news, and then act as censors, though that particular expression is not used,” the report observes.
The report says that education has been badly hit due to the long-drawn-out lockdown and internet restrictions imposed post- August 5. According to the report, the schools in the Valley have functioned for barely 100 days while the business suffered gargantuan losses.
“Local and regional industries have suffered large losses in almost every sector. Companies that are heavily or solely reliant on 4G networks that are available in the rest of the country, such as tourism and cottage industries, have been forced out of business.”
The report has recommended, inter alia, the release of remaining political detainees, amending Public Safety Act, withdrawing charges against journalists, restoration of 4G internet and implementing the juvenile legislations in letter and spirit.
The report concludes that Kashmir has in many ways been the litmus test of Indian democracy. “As this report indicates, we have failed miserably,” it says.
The other members of the rights body included pre-eminent columnist and editor Annad K. Sahay; Justice Ruma Pal, former judge of the Supreme Court of India; Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of Madras, and Delhi High Court; Justice Bilal Nazki, former Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court; Justice Hasnain Masoodi, former judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court; Justice Anjana Prakash, former judge of the Patna High Court; Gopal Pillai, former Home Secretary, Government of India; Nirupama Rao, former Foreign Secretary, Government of India; Probir Sen, former Secretary-General, National Human Rights Commission; Amitabha Pande, former Secretary, Inter-State Council, Government of India; Moosa Raza, former Chief Secretary, Government of Jammu and Kashmir; Hindal Haidar Tyabji, former Chief Secretary, Government of Jammu and Kashmir; Shantha Sinha, former chairperson, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights; Lieutenant-General H S Panag (retd); Major-General Ashok Mehta (retd); Air Vice-Marshal Kapil Kak (retd); RD Sharma, former Vice Chancellor of Jammu University; Enakshi Ganguly, Co-founder and former Co-director, HAQ Centre for Child Rights; and Ramachandra Guha, writer and historian.