India is taking small steps in restoring normalcy in J&K, says US report


The US, in its recently released ‘Human Rights Practices’ report has noted that the Indian government has taken gradual steps to improve the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir and restore normalcy in the erstwhile state.

While releasing the report, Secretary of State Antony Blinkenon on Tuesday, March 30, noted the release of detained political activists, the restoration of some internet access and the holding of local elections where an opposition coalition won most seats.

The report also mentioned the killings of killings and torture of security personnel, civilians and the recruitment and use of child soldiers by the separatist insurgents and terrorists in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast, and Maoist-affected areas

India is a multiparty, federal, parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature, the report stated.

In its ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices’ to the US Congress, the Department of State noted that the Indian government partially restored Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, besides successfully conducting the local district development council elections in which opposition parties secured a majority.

The State Department report quoted the United Nations special rapporteurs as saying that since August 2019 when Kashmir’s special status was rescinded, “the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been in free fall” and that they were “particularly concerned that during the Covid-19 pandemic, many protesters are still in detention and internet restrictions remain in place.”

But the report also said, “The government released most political activists from detention. In January, the government partially restored internet access; however, high-speed 4G mobile internet remained restricted in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir.”

The State Department said that according to the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) 662 individuals were arrested under the Public Safety Act in 2019, of whom 412 remained under detention as of August.

According to the report, the Home Ministry has accused Mohammed Yasin Malik and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) that he led of participating in the “genocide” of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits in 1989.

Malik, who was arrested and charged with murder in the death of four Air Force officials in 1990, was denied the right to be physically present in court for his trial, it said.

The State Department quoted an Amnesty International report on the situation in the year since the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution abrogating Kashmir’s special status that documented 14 instances of detention, police interrogations, and assaults on journalists.

“The government also introduced a new media regulation policy in Jammu and Kashmir empowering local administration to determine ‘fake and anti-national news’ and to initiate related action against journalists, ” the report said.