GENEVA - The Indian Government’s decision to revoke part of the Constitution relating to the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir risks worsening democratic freedoms there, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Tuesday.
Amid reports that “hardly any information at all” is emerging from the Indian-administered side of the long-disputed territory, spokesperson Rupert Colville cited a UN report alleging that authorities suppressed communication networks, conducted arbitrary detentions, and punished opponents.
“We are seeing again blanket telecommunications restrictions – perhaps more blanket than we’ve ever seen before - the reported arbitrary detention of political leaders and restrictions on peaceful assembly”, he said. “These restrictions will prevent the people of Indian-Administered Kashmir and their elected representatives from participating fully in democratic debate about the future status of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Tensions over Kashmir – which rose sharply after a deadly suicide bombing in February targeting Indian security forces in Pulwama - continue to have a “severe impact” on people’s rights, including the right to life, according to the UN human rights office.
India and Pakistan fought several conflicts over the disputed region and the UN has been mandated since 1949, to monitor the ceasefire between the two countries.