Eighteen months after Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special status with the abrogation of Article 370—which followed by the imposition of a strict lockdown—human rights violations continue to take place in the erstwhile state, a report on rights situation there said.
The Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, co-chaired by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur and former J&K interlocutor Radha Kumar, highlighted how counter-insurgency concerns continue to be prioritized over the public, civilian and human security, leading to the vitiation of protections such as habeas corpus, prevention of illegal detention and strict restrictions on arrest and detention of children.
The Forum addressed the issue of restrictions on broadband services in the state. “The 18-month ban on 4G-connectivity continued to impact public health, causing trauma and stress amongst the people of Jammu and Kashmir and violating the rights to health and medical care under the Indian, and Jammu and Kashmir, constitutions,” it said.
The report also noted denials of the right to bail, misuse of draconian legislations such as the Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to stifle dissent.
The report said further changes to land laws have resulted in further erosion of political and economic rights. “Implementation of the much-criticized new media policy led to the dis-empanelment of about 20 media outlets,” it added.
The report strongly recommended the release of all remaining political detainees. “Repeal the Public Safety Act (PSA) and any other preventive detention legislation, so that they cannot be misused against political opposition, or amend them to bring them in line with our constitutional ethos,” the report said.
The Forum also demanded initiation of criminal and civil actions against personnel of police, Armed Forces and Paramilitary Forces found guilty of a violation of human rights, especially with regard to recent instances of attacks on journalists.