Update on human rights violations in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir since August 2019

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In the early hours of 5 August 2019, the authorities in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) State imposed a curfew on the entire territory of J&K and deployed several thousand Indian army troops and J&K police across all 22 districts without any prior announcement. In addition, on the evening of 4 August 2019 the Indian government imposed a blanket communication blockade across J&K. People woke up the next day with the entire region being under a military and communication clampdown.

At around noon on 5 August, the Indian government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), introduced a bill in the upper and lower houses of the Indian parliament to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian constitution. Article 370 had guaranteed ‘special status’ to J&K State since 1949 and prevented any person who did not have a state subject certificate from acquiring immovable property in J&K. The abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian government is inconsistent with earlier rulings by the Supreme Court of India, which declared that Article 370 could not be abrogated without the approval of the J&K State’s Legislative Assembly.

A majority of Indian parliamentarians voted in favour of the BJP’s decision to repeal Article 370 and to pass a second piece of legislation, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019, which led to the split of the existing state of J&K into two Union Territories, Ladakh and J&K, under direct control of New Delhi. This move is part of the Indian government’s plan to ensure the complete annexation of J&K, in a belief that such developments would lead to an end of the decades-long conflict.

This pivotal constitutional change was preceded by mass panic and tension in the Kashmir valley. The reports of additional troop deployment, the leaking of several government orders suggesting a “deterioration of law and order situation in the near future in Kashmir” and asking domestic tourists and Amarnath pilgrims “to leave Kashmir immediately” added to the extremely tense situation.

This update is a partial summary of the main human rights violations that have been reported since 5 August 2019. Due to the ongoing communication blockade over the entire Kashmir valley, no information could be obtained from remote districts, including in South Kashmir, and little or nothing is known about the situation in these areas. The ongoing communication clampdown has also prevented journalists and human rights activists from assessing and providing extensive reports on the situation on the ground.

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