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Is anybody listening to the voice of innocent people of Kashmir

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Human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir are an ongoing issue but things have improved relatively since abolishment of Article 370. The abuses range from mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. This pivotal constitutional change was preceded by mass panic and tension in the Kashmir valley.
The reports of additional troops deployment, the leaking of several government orders suggesting a “deterioration of law and order situation in the near future in Kashmir” and asking domestic tourists and Amarnath pilgrims “to leave Kashmir immediately” added to the extremely tense situation. Between 4 and 5 August, the Indian government blocked all communications, including all mobile phone networks, state-owned landline telephone networks, including broadband internet services, and private internet services.
The internet shutdown that started on 4 August was the 55th internet shutdown in the state this year and the longest to date. People in Kashmir only learned of the lockdown through television news networks because all other forms of mass media remained blocked. The ongoing communication blockade has effectively ensured that alleged human rights violations in the form of illegal arrests, detentions under the PSA, beatings, harassment, and destruction of private property at the hands of armed forces remain unreported and therefore unaccounted for.
Newspapers in Kashmir have been forced to publish a reduced number of pages due to inaccessibility of the internet and the inability of media persons to travel to other J&K districts because of the ongoing restrictions on movement. Journalists have been forced to rely on only state-issued press briefs once or twice a week without the means to verify the stories. Journalists have also faced reprisals for filing stories on Kashmir’s ongoing clampdown and mass arrests. The conflict turns messier, and everyday life suffers, as the disputed territory remains on lock down. For one year, the flash-point region of Kashmir has been locked down. The Indian government has flooded it with troops.
The internet has been cut off from last one year. The Indian security forces have arrested thousands of people. Most are being held without charges under what is called preventive detention. Almost Kashmir’s entire leadership class – democratically elected representatives, teachers, students, intellectuals, and prominent merchants – is now behind bars. It has been over one year since the Indian government revoked constitutional autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir and split the state into two centrally administered territories. And yet abusive restrictions, including a lockdown on internet from last one year. From having their education and freedom restrained to even being detained, children were among the worst impacted by the developments.
The report said the rights of children to a trauma-free environment was arbitrarily ignored and the impact on their education was “severe”, as schools and colleges have functioned for barely 110 days since 2020.With only 2G network available, online classes have also not been adequate. “Graduate students and teachers have been unable to participate in conferences or have their papers published, causing wilful harm to their careers and violating the rights to education.”
Despite initial denials regarding the detention of children, the report said the Central and Jammu & Kashmir administrations finally admitted in the Supreme Court that 144 children had been detained in August-September 2019, of whom the youngest was nine years old. Sadly, it added, the Supreme Court in its remarks on the issue on December 9, 2019, said that petitioners should not be overly alarmed if children are detained for a few hours or for just a day, because in certain situations it is for their own good.
The report also insisted that local and regional industries have suffered large losses as many of them have been reliant on 4G networks and have been forced out of business due to restrictions imposed on it. “A mix of security consolidation in certain metrics and setbacks in others has been accompanied by an overwhelming curtailment of freedoms,” the report said, stating that “the ban on 4G networks is a case in point.”
The report also stated that local media has been one of the worst sufferers of the clampdown. It said the media content, readership and revenues have suffered a sharp decline resulting in many journalists losing their jobs. Also, it said, the new media policy introduced censorship by the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) in coordination with security agencies and this was a “death blow to the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression.” “Journalists have been harassed and even had draconian charges slapped on them, for example under the UAPA,” it said, citing the examples of Gowhar Geelani and Masrat Zahra, who were both booked under the law.
Kashmiri women are reportedly said to be highly prone to suicidal tendencies due to the conflict-situations. The fear, stress, tension, and uncertainty prevailing in the state are said to be the main reasons for this.
According to a survey in 2012, 17,000 people, mostly women, have committed suicide during the past 20 years in the Valley According to a study by the Medecins Sans Frontieres, “Women in Kashmir have suffered enormously since the separatist struggle became violent in 1989-90. Like the women in other conflict zones, they have been raped, tortured, maimed, and killed. A few of them were even jailed for years together.
Kashmiri women are among the worst sufferers of sexual violence in the world. Sexual violence has been routinely perpetrated on Kashmiri women, with 11.6% of respondents saying they were victims of sexual abuse”. Due to the impact of the conflict, a number of people in the valley suffer from various psychological problems like stress (normal or related to traumatic event), anxiety, mood, and post-traumatic disorders.