Decision of the withdrawal of special status to J&K “unilateral” , Says Amnesty International

Srinagar/Aug,5: The Amnesty International on Monday termed unilateral the 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.
“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,” said Aakar Patel, Head of Amnesty International India.

The Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which was proposed to be scrapped by the Government of India guarantees special autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and gives independence over matters excluding foreign affairs, defence and communication. The article was seen as an essential provision to maintain the democratic relationship between India and Jammu & Kashmir. The central government has also proposed to break up the state in two union territories, which will give it an enhanced role in governance.

Former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have claimed that they are detained and placed under house arrest. Mehbooba Mufti, who was the first woman Chief Minister until the President’s Rule was imposed in the state in June 2018 tweeted “Already under house arrest & not allowed to have visitors either. Not sure how long I’ll be able to communicate. Is this the India we acceded to?” While Omar Abdullah in his official statement, said, “Those of us who gave democratic voice to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, are incarcerated as lakhs of armed security personnel have been put on the ground.”

The revocation of Article 370 is expected to cause unrest and wide scale protests in the state. So far, the government’s response to dealing with protests in the state has been heavy-handed and have led to gross human rights violations such as blinding, killing and traumatizing people over the past few years. Amnesty International India, in its earlier briefing titled ‘Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet Firing Shotguns’ had documented and highlighted the use of pellet guns and other weapons in defiance of international human rights standards. While the authorities have the right to maintain public order, they must respect the right of the people to protest peacefully.

Blanket and indefinite suspensions of telecommunications services in J&K are also not in line with international human rights standards. These shutdowns affect the ability of people in Kashmir to seek, receive, and impart information, which is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression. These blackouts also impede the ability of friends and relatives to reach out and inform about their safety further increasing tensions and feelings of insecurity. “An end to the abuses in J&K cannot come without the involvement of its people,” said Aakar Patel.

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Coronavirus: ‘105 people with China travel history kept under home quarantine’ Srinagar: One hundred five people with China travel history are being kept under surveillance in Jammu and Kashmir. However, no one has tested positive for Coronavirus so far. The Nodal Officer for Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory to deal with the Coronavirus, Dr Shafqat Khan told KNS over phone that one hundred five people in Jammu and Kashmir with travel history from China have been asked to remain in home quarantine as a precautionary measure. “So far there is no case of coronavirus in JK. The suspected cases have tested negative and have been advised home quarantine,” The official maintained that all suspected people in Jammu and Kashmir are under observation and are being monitored. ‘They have been asked to remain in isolation and take necessary precautions. However, no one has been hospitalized”, he maintained. He said that preemptive measures are in place to deal with the threat posed by coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir. Khan said that Government is not taking any chance on the issue of Coronavirus and all those arriving from China, Nepal and other countries are being regularly monitored. He appealed people not to panic.” As on date there is nobody in JK UT to have detected for the coronavirus. Though two people earlier had some flue like symptoms, but both were detected negative for coronavirus,” said Shafqat. The Nodal Officer said that some samples of people who had flue like symptoms were also taken and sent for analyses, but no one has been detected positive for coronavirus. Government has established 33 bedded isolation ward at Government Medical College Jammu for Coronavirus cases and 22 bedded such facility at GMC, Srinagar, SKIMS Soura and Maternity Hospital Sanatnagar in Kashmir valley. The sample taking facility has been kept at GMC Srinagar and GMC Jammu. Meanwhile sources told KNS that the government has asked all the Chief Medical Officers across the UT to maintain the SOPs strictly. They have been asked to transport such people from airport and home to test lifting facilities in designated ambulances. Sources said that Health Department of the UT is in continuous touch with National Center for Disease Control in New Delhi and National Institute of Virology Pune. Sources said that Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department, Atal Dulloo also advised the officers to be extra vigilant and follow the established protocol in handling all suspected cases. The death toll in China’s novel coronavirus has gone up to 2,236 with 118 more deaths reported, mostly from the hard-hit Hubei province, while the overall confirmed infection cases have climbed to 75,465, Chinese health officials said on Friday. The number of deaths is higher than the previous day when 114 people died of the disease, but the country reported the lowest number of new infection cases in nearly a month, fuelling hopes that Beijing’s epidemic control efforts were working. By the end of Thursday, a total of 2,236 people had died of the disease and 75,465 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection had been reported from 31 provincial-level regions and in China, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in its daily report on Friday.

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