India prides itself with being the world’s biggest democracy. However, it has failed to live up to this reputation in Kashmir with its recent shutdown of the internet and cutting off of phone lines in the region.
According to Alexandra Ma in the Business Insider, “India shut off the internet and ordered tourists to leave the hotly contested Kashmir region, in a risky bid to end its quasi-independence”.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on its part called for an end to the internet shutdown in Kashmir and for the Indian government to restore phone lines on grounds of its negative impact, and rightfully so, on the people in region.
According to Human Rights Watch,
The Indian government’s lengthy shutdown of the internet and telephones in Jammu and Kashmir inflicts disproportionate harm on the population and should be immediately lifted, Human Rights Watch said today. The disruption to services since August 5, 2019, has exacerbated an information blackout, stopped families from communicating, prevented people from accessing medical services, and disrupted the local economy.
Indian authorities have said the restrictions are necessary to prevent the spread of false or incendiary information that could cause violent protests after the Indian government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutionally provided autonomous status. However, international human rights law prohibits broad, indiscriminate, and indefinite restrictions on fundamental freedoms, including the right to free expression and to provide and receive information, Human Rights Watch said.
“The Indian government’s indefinite shutdown of phones and the internet in Kashmir is causing disproportionate harm and should be lifted immediately,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The restrictions are provoking anger, causing economic harm, and fueling rumors that are making a bad human rights situation even worse.”
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