The Front Line Defenders (FLD) expresses grave concern for the safety and well-being of human rights defenders in Jammu and Kashmir in light of the communications blackout and curfew-like conditions that have been imposed in the region. It deplored over restrictions follow the Indian government’s unilateral decision to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution. While there is no official curfew, movement is restricted and there are reports of razor wire and a heavy military presence on the streets.
FLD said that human rights defenders in Jammu and Kashmir have always worked under extremely vulnerable and hostile conditions. Defenders documenting human rights violations by the Indian government, especially the military, have faced reprisals including threats and legal persecution.
The current restrictions and ongoing curtailment of rights, including the right to free speech and expression and the right to peaceful assembly and association have a direct bearing on the safety of human rights defenders, and their ability to carry out their work effectively, it added.
FLD is especially concerned by unconfirmed reports of mass arrests and detention, including of human rights activists, academics, and lawyers. It has been impossible to verify these reports due to the communication blackout. The inability to access defenders in the region, ensure their well being and monitor due process rights in detention heightens concern for their security.
FLD condemns any measures that restrict or undermine the work of human rights defenders in Jammu and Kashmir. It urges the government of India to fulfill its state responsibility in ensuring that they are permitted to carry out their lawful and legitimate work in defence of the rights of others.