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Blackout is collective punishment against people of J&K: UN human rights experts call on India to end communications shutdown

UN human rights experts have called on the Indian government to “end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests imposed in Indian-Administered Kashmir this month”.

The shutdown of the internet and telecom networks, without justification from the Government, “are inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality,” said the experts. “The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence” they said. The human rights experts include David Kaye, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Michel Forst, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, among others.

The measures imposed after the Indian Parliament revoked Article 370 under the Constitution “would exacerbate tensions in the region”. The experts pointed out that the government has imposed curfew in the state, and ordered massive numbers of troops into the especially, and especially the Kashmir Valley. “We remind the Indian authorities that the restrictions imposed by the Indian Government are intrinsically disproportionate, because they preclude considerations of the specific circumstances of each proposed assembly,” said the experts.

Jammu & Kashmir: 18 days of blackout

The communications blackout continues in the state (now union territory) for the most part, internet services remain suspended in both Jammu, and Kashmir. 2G mobile internet services were restored in five of the ten districts in Jammu, but were suspended again within 24 hours. Fixed-line telephone connections were restored in some areas of Srinagar, parts of Valley including tourist resorts, major telephone exchanges remain shut.

A communications blackout was imposed on the entire state on August 5, troops were moved into the state, as the Centre moved to removed Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gave special status to the state, now a union territory. Internet services, mobile network, landline, cable, were all cut off in the state.

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