Skip to main content

Address grievances of Kashmiris, stop silencing opposition voices: HRW to GoI

Counterview Desk
Sharply criticizing the Government of India (GoI) decision for revoking the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), one of the world’s topmost rights-based NGOs, Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a statement from New York, has taken strong exception to the manner in which this was done – by refusing to respect the human rights or of everyone, including protesters.
Insisting that this was a “bad start”, HRW said, the measure would, in effect, “eliminate the autonomous status, provided to J&K when it acceded to India seven decades ago, by splitting the province into two separate territories “which will be federally governed, reducing the authority of elected state officials.”

Text 

Indian authorities have adopted measures in anticipation of unrest in J&K state that raise serious human rights concerns. The government announced on August 5, 2019 that it was altering the special constitutional status of the state.
Before making the announcement, the government detained several political leaders, imposed broad restrictions on freedom of movement, and banned public meetings. It also shut down the internet, phone services, and educational institutions. The Indian government should take all necessary steps to ensure that security forces act with restraint.
“The government has a responsibility to ensure security in Kashmir, but that means respecting the human rights of everyone, including protesters,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government got off to a bad start by detaining political leaders, banning public meetings, and shutting down the internet.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led national government has deployed tens of thousands of additional troops to the region since last week, citing security reasons. The authorities also ordered tourists and Hindu pilgrims to leave J&K because of a “terror threat.” Orders issued to public officials, including hospital staff, caused panic in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir valley, with people stocking up on food and currency, anticipating that services would be shut down.
The government’s decision to revoke special status for the state provided under Article 370 of the Indian constitution prompted condemnation from political leaders in Kashmir and generated tensions in the state. On August 5, Home Minister Amit Shah told parliament that “not all the provisions of Article 370 will now be implemented in J&K.” In effect, these measures eliminate the autonomous status provided to J&K when it acceded to India seven decades ago and splits the province into two separate territories which will be federally governed, reducing the authority of elected state officials.
Kashmir has witnessed a spike in violent protests and militant attacks in recent years. Indian security forces have often used excessive force to respond to protests, including using pellet-firing shotguns as a crowd-control weapon, even though they have caused a large number of protester deaths and injuries. The Indian government should review its crowd-control techniques and rules of engagement, and publicly order the security forces to abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Indian troops have seldom been held accountable despite serious allegations of human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) gives soldiers effective immunity from prosecution for serious human rights abuses. 
Indian troops have seldom been held accountable despite serious allegations of human rights violations. including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances
The government has failed to review or repeal the law, despite repeated recommendations from several government-appointed commissions, UN bodies, and experts, and national and international rights groups. Since the law came into force in Kashmir in 1990, the Indian government has not granted permission to prosecute any security force personnel in civilian courts.
While law enforcement officials have a duty to protect lives and property, they should use nonviolent means as far as possible, only use force when unavoidable and in a proportionate manner, and use lethal force only when absolutely necessary to save lives. 
In July, a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights raised serious concerns about abuses by security forces in Kashmir. Those included the use of excessive force to respond to protests and the detention of protesters, political dissidents, and other activists on vague grounds for long periods, ignoring regular criminal justice safeguards. The Indian government dismissed the report as a “false and motivated narrative” that ignored “the core issue of cross-border terrorism.”
The Indian government has also repeatedly imposed internet shutdowns in Kashmir, restricting mobile and broadband internet services. There have already been 53 instances of shutdowns in the state in 2019, the largest number in the country. 
In 2017, David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, and Michel Forst, the special rapporteur on human rights defenders, condemned the restrictions on the internet and social media services in J&K, saying they had a “disproportionate impact on the fundamental rights of everyone in Kashmir,” and had the “character of collective punishment.”
“Kashmiris have endured decades of violence and human rights violations, and are yet to be assured of justice,” Ganguly said. “The government should ensure accountability for past abuses and address grievances instead of silencing opposition voices.”

Comments

TRENDING

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Gujarat religious freedom amendment bill 'pursues' votebank politics, is anti-minority

Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja  By Our Representative  A Gujarat-based minority rights organisation, taking strong exception to the state assembly last week passing the Gujarat Religious Freedom (Amendment) Bill, 2021, has asserted that the proposed law “is completely unconstitutional”, even as asking the Gujarat governor to give his accent to it.

Anti-untouchability move? Dalits to 'mint' brass coin to be laid beneath new Parliament

By Rajiv Shah Gujarat’s top Dalit rights organisation, Navsarjan Trust, is all set to initiate a unique campaign under which families from different parts of the country will contribute a brass article or a utensil -- all of it will be melted and minted into a 1111 milligram diameter coin with the question engraved on it: Will the 1947 dream of untouchability-free India be reality yin 2047?