Countering the Centre's statements of 100% landline communication restored in the Kashmir Valley, Amnesty International India (AII) on Thursday, has launched an 'Urgent Campaign to end protracted blackout in Kashmir'. The AII has launched its global campaign - #LetKashmirSpeak in a bid to highlight the human cost of the ' communication lockdown', as stated in its press release. The campaign claims a 'communication blackout' is ongoing in the Valley. The press release stated that the restrictions were an assault on the civil liberties of Kashmir residents.
The communication cut-off which is being restored in a phased manner completes a month on Thursday. Marking this date, AII head Aakar Patel has stated, "The blackout has now been a month old and cannot be prolonged any further by the Indian Government. It has grossly impacted the daily lives of Kashmiri people along with their access to basic and medical facilities." He also said that the 'communication blackout was tearing apart families. He further states that the landline restoration claimed by the Centre 'falls woefully short in facilitating communication for the 8 million people of Kashmir'.
AII has further claimed that the current scenario does not comply with the curbing of freedom of expression. The international body believes that the sweeping restrictions put by the Centre in a clear violation of its international obligations. It further referred to sketchy reports of medical crisis in the Valley, inspite of the Centre giving proof denying all such claims. Patel stated that the clampdown was not just on communications, but a clampdown on the hearts and minds of the Kashmiris.
Meanwhile, in the Supreme Court, the Centre is currently countering Executive Editor of Kashmir Times Anuradha Bhasin's plea for removal of media restrictions in Kashmir. Bhasin had filed an additional affidavit in the matter on Wednesday. Her lawyer claimed that the situation is not normal in Kashmir. She also claimed that media is still not operational in parts of the Valley.
Vrinda Grover, lawyer appearing for Anuradha Bhasin (Executive Editor of Kashmir Times) told the Supreme Court,"I have filed an additional affidavit before the Court yesterday, the media can still not be operated there. The situation is not good there, in my opinion."— ANI (@ANI) September 5, 2019
Representing the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal has explained the situation in Kashmir stating, "Situation has improved. More than 80% of landline connections have been restored." The apex court has issued a notice to Centre on Anuradha Bhasin's plea. It reserved its order on the issue on Thursday. Futhermore, the Supreme Court will listen to all pleas on September 16.
Previously on Wednesday, sharing facts on the communication situation in Valley, the Kashmir government's Department of Information and Public Relations had stated the 100% of landline exchanges were operationalised. It further stated that mobiles were being restored gradually and are already buzzing in Kupwara. Communication has been restored in a phased manner, as explained by Principal Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Rohit Kansal.
On Monday, Kansal said that over 90% of the Kashmir valley was free of day time restrictions. He said that restrictions were eased at 92 police station areas out of the 111 police stations in Kashmir. When asked about the stone-pelting incidents, the Principal Secretary said that at least 152 'significant incidents' have been witnessed in the last three weeks. Out of which, he stated, 125 were seen in Srinagar alone. He also pointed out that there had been a progressive decline in recent weeks.
On August 5, PM Modi led government abrogated Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir stripping the state off the special status and bifurcated the state into two union territories of- Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Kashmir has been on lockdown due to security reasons since then. Many separatists and three former Kashmir Chief Ministers have also been detained in custody in response to the situation in the Valley.