Occupied Kashmir sees 229 killings in first half of 2020: report

02 Jul 2020

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The report said India is paving the way for demographic change in occupied Kashmir on a large scale. — AFP/File
The report said India is paving the way for demographic change in occupied Kashmir on a large scale. — AFP/File

Indian occupied Kashmir has seen at least 229 killings during more than 100 military operations since January, a rights group said on Wednesday.

The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), which operates in the region, said in its bi-annual report that from January 1 to June 30, the region witnessed the extrajudicial executions of at least 32 civilians and the killing of 54 armed forces personnel.

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

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

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

Media muzzled

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.

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".

Read: Woman among two journalists facing fake news allegation in held Kashmir

It also said that high speed mobile internet services have remained banned since August 5, 2019, noting that in the last six months, there were 55 instances of internet blockades.

New laws and 'demographic flooding'

The report said India is paving the way for demographic change in occupied Kashmir on a large scale, thus institutionalising 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 disputed 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 organisation concerned, including sharing information with security agencies.

Covid-19 and human rights

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 5, 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.

Anadolu Agency attempted to contact government adviser Farooq Khan on the issues covered in the report but received no response despite repeated calls.

It also contacted government spokesman Rohit Kansal, who is yet to respond to a texted query.