India: Hundreds petition government on Kashmir
NEW DELHI: Indians petitioned the country’s prime minister and president on the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir, describing the current restrictions in the region, “unacceptable”.
Some 284 petitioners, including academics, journalists, political leaders and others, said in the document: “On humanitarian grounds, we find this situation unacceptable. The government should restore mobile and internet connections, which were declared a fundamental right just recently by the Kerala High Court.”
“On democratic grounds, too, we find this situation unacceptable. If the government can take away freedom of expression and the right to debate legislation that affects their lives in Jammu and Kashmir, what prevents them from doing so across the country?,” said the petition, addressed to premier Narendra Modi and president Ram Nath Kovind.
“It is not too late to roll-back the lockdown, hold legislative assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and let the people decide on Article 370 and statehood. We appeal to the government to do so,” it added, referring the article of Indian Constitution that had guaranteed the special status of the Muslim-majority state since 1954 until last month.
It also underlined that the decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcate the region into two union territories was taken without consulting locals.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since the Indian government’s move on Aug. 5 to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since then, the Indian government has blocked communication access and imposed restrictions on movement to thwart any protests in the region.
Several rights groups including the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees. (AA)