Ambulance driver stopped at a checkpoint installed by the government forces in Srinagar during a lockdown/. Photograph by Bhat Burhan for The Kashmir Walla.

Amnesty International has slammed India the clampdown on civil liberties in Kashmir.

In a report titled “The State of the World’s Human Rights 2020/2021” Amnesty International examines the human rights situation in 149 countries.

In the section on India, it said: “The police continued to carry out unlawful killings – some amounting to extrajudicial executions – with impunity. In July in Kashimr, three young labourers in an apple orchard were unlawfully killed by members of the Indian army. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which governs the use of force by security personnel in Kashmir, grants virtual immunity to members of the security forces from prosecution for alleged human rights violations. In another extrajudicial execution in July,”

The report said, “A year after the government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and split the state into two union territories, the clampdown on civil liberties and restrictions on communications services continued. Political leaders such as Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who were administratively detained in 2019, were released in 2020. However, the union government continued to silence those who demanded accountability and imposed a harsh media blackout.”

Adding that at least 18 journalists in Kashmir were physically attacked by police or summoned to police stations.

“Dissent was further suppressed when a new media policy was introduced by the Jammu and Kashmir government to create “a sustained narrative on the functioning of the government in media” by checking “anti-national activities”.”

The report also noted the closing down of the Kashmir Times, without prior notice, after its editor, Anuradha Bhasin, had challenged the communications blockade in the Supreme Court.

“The NIA also raided the offices and residences of civil society activists including Khurram Parvez and three of his associates, and Parveena Ahanger, who had reported extensively on human rights abuses in Kashmir. The NIA alleged that the activists had raised funds for “carrying out secessionist and separatist activities” in Jammu and Kashmir.” The Amnesty report said.

It also criticised the arrest of seven human rights defenders, including Father Stan Swamy, and restrictions on freedoms in Jammu and Kashmir.

Amnesty International India was forced to close its operations in September 2020 after Indian authorities froze its bank accounts.

“This occurred shortly after Amnesty International India had published briefings demanding accountability for grave human rights violations carried out by the Delhi police and the government during the Delhi riots and in Jammu and Kashmir,” the report claimed.

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