#LetKashmirSpeak: Amnesty International calls for removal of communications blackout

Amnesty International has urged Mr. Satya Pal Malik, Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, to lift the communications blackout in Kashmir and allow unconditional and unconstrained access to news and information from the Valley.

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The international human rights organization has launched a petition on its website, urging people to raise their voices against the government imposed blackout. In its petition it said that there are nearly 8 million people living in Kashmir, who since August 5, the day Article 370 was abrogated, have been living through a telecommunications blackout. “The government of India is restricting freedoms by shutting down their ability to communicate with each other and the rest of the world, and by imposing curfews or curfew like situations preventing people from leaving their homes”, the petition reads.

Explaining how the communications blackout has led to panic, illegal arrests and subsequent human rights violations, it said, “At a time when reports have been pouring in about raids, arrests, clashes and detentions, communications shut downs not only leave people stranded and add panic and unrest, they also effect the ability of doctors and humanitarian workers to carry out their work effectively. The world can only speculate on what grave human rights violations might be taking place right now in Kashmir.”

Today marks the 85th day of the lockdown. In these 85 days, there has been an eerie calm over Kashmir. While the Union Home Minister claims that Kashmir has been integrated without the use of a single bullet, he has forgotten to mention the seven people who have lost their lives since August 5.

Even though there has been an effort against the media showing the ground reality in Kashmir, brave journalists and human rights activists have brought to us stories of how Kashmiris have been ‘caged’ in their own homes. Leaders being put under house-arrest, children being detained, basic amenities being out of bounds for the locals – this is the story of what has happened to Kashmir in the past 85 days.

There has been an internet shutdown, 3G and 4G services on mobile phones have been restricted and there are very few operational landlines that Kashmiris can use to speak to their families. Kashmiris outside the state have had no information about the health of their family members. Access to medical help has been severely disrupted and students have been left in the lurch due to this abominable situation.

Journalists, even with a press pass, have been stopped from travelling in the state, stopped from taking photos and videos, they have been rough up by security forces and in protest some have carried blank newspapers to portray the intensity of the communications blockade.

Kashmiris, though silent, have acquiesced to this imposed fate. But it is upon us to help them find their voice. Let us show the Indian government that it needs to put humanity first and restore the dignity of each and every Kashmiri. Support Amnesty International in its endeavor.
Sign the petition here.

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