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India: The Impact of Lockdowns - Report of The Forum on Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir | Released on Aug 3, 2020

4 August

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Jammu and Kashmir: The Impact of Lockdowns on Human Rights August 2019-July 2020 Report

Co-Chairs: Justice Madan B. Lokur, former judge of the Supreme Court of India and Radha Kumar, former member, Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir



On August 4, 2019, a day before the President of India voided all clauses of Article 370 of the Indian constitution and suspended the Jammu and Kashmir constitution, the state was put under a total lockdown. Around 38,000 additional troops were flown in to enforce the lockdown, which closed markets, educational institutions and all public spaces for several weeks. Internet and telephone services were snapped, curfew was declared, public assembly was prohibited under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC),1 and thousands, including minors and almost all the elected legislators of Jammu and Kashmir (excluding those belonging to the BJP), were put under preventive detention. Five days later, the Parliament of India passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, dividing the state into two Union Territories, of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. In the months that followed, national political figures were denied permission to enter the former state and were turned back from Srinagar airport.

The economic, social and political impact of these actions, and their long duration – eleven months thus far – have been disastrous. All the former state’s industries suffered severe blows, pushing the majority into loan defaults or even closure; hundreds of thousands lost their jobs or underwent salary deferment or cuts; closures of schools and universities gravely impaired education and added to the trauma of children and parents; healthcare was severely restricted by curfew and roadblocks; the local and regional media lost what li le independence they had.

Worst of all, there was no elected representative to advocate the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, since the majority of political leaders were put in preventive detention. Moreover, many of those that were released, gradually over the past eleven months, had to pledge that they would not criticize government actions. Statutory bodies to which citizens could go to seek redress virtually ceased to exist, since all the state commissions – for human rights, women and child rights, anti-corruption and the right to information – were closed when the state was divided into Union Territories, and the Union Government decided not to reinstate them, even though Union Territories too are entitled to independent statutory bodies for oversight.

As a result, there has been a near-total alienation of the people of the Kashmir valley from the Indian state and people. While alienation of the people of Jammu is not as severe, their concerns over economic and educational losses as well as policies such as the new domicile rules, are as substantial.

It is in this context that the Human Rights Forum for Jammu and Kashmir was formed. This Report seeks to document the numerous human rights violations in the former state over the past eleven and a half months (August 4, 2019 to July 19, 2020) under five broad heads: civilian security, health, children and youth, industry and media. "