Justice Lokur-headed group releases report on human rights condition in J&K
The Forum for Human Rights in J&K, an informal group of concerned citizens comprising ex-judges, academicians and senior ex-servicemen, on Wednesday released a report on the human rights condition in J&K after the revocation of its special status on August 5 last year.
Co-chaired by justice Madan B. Lokur, a former judge of the Supreme Court, the Forum described the economic, social and political impact of the post August 5 actions and their long duration of 11 months ‘disastrous’.
“All the former State’s industries suffered severe blows, hundreds of thousands lost their jobs or underwent salary deferment or cuts; closure of schools and universities gravely impaired education and added to the trauma of children and parents; healthcare was severely restricted by curfew and roadblocks; the local and regional media lost what little independence they had,” the report, based on the interviews of locals, suggested.
It said the constitutional changes bewildered Kashmiris and left them “stunned and dumbfounded”.
“Post August 2019, the intensification of security force operations and rising number of cordon and search operations — conducted every single day from the beginning of June 2020 to around mid-July — have exacerbated the pain and suffering that the people of Kashmir have endured over three long decades.”
It pointed out that China’s attempts to mobilise the U.N. Security Council and May 2020 intrusions “also highlighted a trilateralisation of the dispute over Kashmir between India, Pakistan and China”.
Unemployment on rise
According to the report, J&K’s unemployment rate is almost twice that of the national average, at 17.9% in July 2020, as compared to the national average of 9.5%.
“Job losses in the valley were just under half a million at 4,97,000,” it reported.
The Forum has demanded release of all remaining political detainees, amendment to the Public Safety Act and implementation of the juvenile protection legislation and withdrawal of charges against journalists and activists.
“Restore in practice the humanitarian guidelines to be followed when conducting Cordon and Search Operations, to prevent civilian deaths, injuries or any other damage or loss. Adequately compensate innocent citizens whose houses have been destroyed in operations,” it recommended.
It also called for reinstatement of all the former State’s statutory oversight bodies such as the J&K Human Rights Commission and the J&K Women and Child Rights Commission.
Rollback media policy
“Rollback the new media policy and encourage all shades of opinion to be freely and peacefully expressed.”
Former interlocutor Radha Kumar, Justice Ruma Pal, Justice A.P. Shah, Justice Bilal Nazki, Justice Hasnain Masoodi, ex-Home Secretary Gopal Pillai, ex-Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Lieutenant-General H.S. Panag (retd), Major-General Ashok Mehta (retd), Air Vice-Marshal Kapil Kak (retd), ex-vice chancellor R.D. Sharma, writer and historian Ramachandra Guha etc. are part of the Forum.