No end to rights violations in IIOJK: Report

Srinagar, February 14 : An independent body of concerned citizens in its latest report on the rights situation in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir has said that most violations continued in the territory even after 18 months of abrogation of the special status.

The Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, co-chaired by former Indian Supreme Court judge, Justice Madan B. Lokur and former Kashmir interlocutor, Radha Kumar, in its latest report, said, “This is the second report of the Forum and covers the period from August 2020 to January 2021. Sadly, most of the violations remain even 18 months after the imposition of a lockdown on Jammu and Kashmir”.

It pointed out that arbitrary detentions continue, public assembly is still prohibited under Section 144 and hundreds, including minors and several elected legislators of the territory, remain under detention. The report covers the period from August 2020 to January 2021.

The forum notes that statutory agencies to which people could go to seek redress for human rights, women and child rights, anti-corruption and the right to information have not been reinstated, even though union territories are also entitled to independent statutory bodies for oversight.

“A new category of ‘protective’ detention has been introduced in the recently concluded district development polls,” the report said. It says that J&K’s industries still reel under the dual impact of the military siege and the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing the majority into loan defaults or even closure.

“Unemployment in J&K is 16.6 percent; healthcare is still restricted; and the local and regional media have not regained what little independence they had,” the report said. It 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 also said that there is a near-total alienation of the people of the Kashmir Valley from the Indian govt, adding that while alienation of the people of Jammu is not as severe, their concerns over economic and educational losses, as well as policies such as the new domicile rules and reversed land laws, are as substantial.

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 Indian police, armed forces and paramilitary forces found guilty of violation of human rights, especially with regard to recent instances of attacks on journalists.

“The details now revealed by the police on the July 2020 extra-judicial killing of three Rajouri youth in Shopian indicate that this is a fit case for criminal charges in place of the army’s court martial procedure,” it said.

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