Internet Access

SRINAGAR — Kashmir has seen at least 229 killings during more than 100 military operations since January, a rights group said.

The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Association of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in their bi-annual report has said that from January 01 to June 30, Jammu Kashmir witnessed the killings of at least 32 civilians and 54 armed forces personnel.

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It also saw 55 internet shutdowns and the destruction of 48 structures, it said.

The report said that three children and two women were also killed, while at least “107 cordon & search operations and cordon & destroy operations were conducted in the region”.

In addition, during search operations and encounters, “vandalism and destruction of civilian properties were reported”.

The report said that in the first six months of 2020, the media continued to be at the receiving end of pressure, intimidation and harassment by authorities, with several incidents involving the beating of journalists. “Besides physical assaults, a few Kashmir-based journalists were also booked under stringent charges and cases were filed against them,” it said.

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The report noted that the police filed cases against two Kashmiri journalists under the Unlawful Activities Act, which clearly infringes on the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press as “such tactics signal a forewarning for media personnel to adhere to the State narrative”.

It also said that high speed mobile Internet services have remained banned since August 05, 2019, noting that in the last six months, there were 55 instances of Internet blockades.

The report said that India is paving the way for demographic change in Kashmir on a large scale, thus institutionalizing a system of domination over indigenous populations. “The order is a clear violation of the 4th Geneva Convention,” it noted.

The report cited observers as warning that the new domicile law could permanently alter the demography of the region.

It also touched on the recently introduced new media policy wherein the government will examine the content of the media. According to the policy, the government will decide what is “fake,” “unethical” or “anti-national” news and take legal action against the journalist or media organization concerned, including sharing information with security agencies.

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The JKCCS’s report said that after the first case of the novel Coronavirus was declared in the region in March, the local government clamped down with restrictions and curfews, even when people had already been locked up since August 2019.

It said roads were barricaded while surveillance tools were used to track down people. “Until April 16, around 2,303 people were also arrested in the region for defying lockdown orders while many shops were sealed and vehicles seized in the region,” it said.

The report also said that 345 prisoners were released amid the pandemic, but many prisoners are still being held in Indian jails, giving the example of J&K High Court Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom, who has been detained since August 05, 2019.

It said during the COVID-19 crisis, many doctors in the region have been harassed and beaten by government forces while performing their duties.

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