Amnesty International has come down heavily on the Centre’s decision to read down Article 370, the constitutional guarantee for Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. In a statement released late on Monday — the day Union home minister first tabled and then secured the votes to pass the proposals — the human rights organisation also criticised the manner in which such a decision was taken.
Calling the clampdown on civil liberties and the communications blackout that foreshadowed the decision a method of ‘alienating the people in the state’, Amnesty slammed the fact that no consultation had been conducted with the people at all.
The statement also notes how Article 370 guaranteed special autonomy to the (erstwhile) state and was seen as an ‘essential provision to maintain the democratic relationship between India and Jammu and Kashmir.’
Amnesty also observed that the decision to break the state up into two Union Territories will only serve to give the government an enhanced role in the region.
“What Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing over the last few days…has already pushed the people to the edge. To make matters worse, key political stakeholders have been placed under house arrest,” Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty International India, was quoted as having said.
Peoples’ Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, both former chief ministers of the state, were detained and put under house arrest respectively.
The abrogation of Article 370 hasn’t just made accession null & void but also reduces India to an occupation force in Jammu and Kashmir. https://t.co/PS6JxYhSaI
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) August 5, 2019
While I’ve been focused on Kashmir I must add a word for people in Kargil, Ladakh & Jammu. I’ve no idea what is in store for our state but it doesn’t look good. I know many of you will be upset by what unfolds. Please don’t take the law in to your own hands, please stay calm.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) August 4, 2019
The statement also recognised the customary heavy-handedness with which the government has responded to the violence in Jammu and Kashmir so far.
In a report titled Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet Firing Shotguns, the body had highlighted the use of pellet guns and other weapons, often to great physical harm of the people in the region.