Srinagar, August 05 : This Situation Update is third and final in the series that Amnesty International India has produced since 5 August 2019 and marks the one year anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370.
On 5 August 2019, the Government of India unilaterally revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Article 370 guaranteed special autonomy to Jammu & Kashmir and gave it independence over matters excluding foreign affairs, defence and communication. This was followed by the enactment of the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act on 31 October 2019 that bifurcated the state of Jammu & Kashmir into two separate union territories. Union territories, as opposed to states, are governed by the central government.
The Act also amended or repealed critical laws passed by the Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly. All these amendments and changes were made amidst a complete communication clampdown, curfew on movement and mass detentions of political leaders in the region. Even today, as the world and country fights the COVID-19 pandemic, the communication services remain hindered, several political leaders detained and free press censored in the region.
This Situation Update is indicative of the various challenges in the region of Jammu and Kashmir – covering detention of political leaders, severe clampdown on freedom of press, protracted restrictions to internet access and its resulting impediment in access to healthcare, education and justice along with challenges thrown up due to COVID-19 in prisons and the closure of other autonomous bodies.
After interviewing a dozen journalists and gathering corroborating evidences through Right to Information applications and digital and print media, Amnesty International India demands the release of all political leaders, journalists and activists from administrative detention, restoration of 4G mobile internet services, decongestion of prisons and a prompt and independent investigation into the attacks on journalists.