120 Days: 5th August to 5th December

FOCUS

This report was published in December 2019 by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) – a collective formed in the year 1994 to campaign against enforced disappearances in Kashmir. The report describes the months following August 5, 2019, when the Indian parliament decided to abrogate Article 370. It traces the impact of the subsequent lockdowns on people, services and trade in the region, and presents a detailed account of the history of Article 370 and its “constant erosion by the Indian State.” 120 Days: 5th August to 5th December was edited by Shahid Malik and was compiled by Sukriti Khurana and Aarash of the APDP team.

Jammu and Kashmir underwent a severe lockdown after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. The mobile networks and internet services were shut down, restrictions were imposed on the movement of vehicles, and an additional 8,000 Indian army troops were deployed in the region. This, the report states, impacted the daily lives of the people and their access to essential services including healthcare, education, and internet and communication services. This report depicts the 120 days of lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir and presents various instances of human rights violations during this time.

This 95-page report is divided into 13 chapters: About APDP (chapter 1); Acknowledgements (chapter 2); Executive Summary (chapter 3); Introduction (chapter 4); Abrogation of 370 (chapter 5); Detentions and Torture (chapter 4); Media, Journalism and Communication (chapter 7); Access to Healthcare (chapter 8); Education and Children (chapter 9); Essential Commodities and Barrier to Trade (chapter 10); Impact on Religious Freedom (chapter 11); Access to Justice (chapter 12); and Annexure (chapter 13).

    FACTOIDS

  1. Citing a 2019 Reuters publication, the report notes that over 3,000 people – politicians, lawyers, civilians and children – were detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, after August 2019. The Act allows for the detention of a person for up to two years if their behaviour is “prejudicial to the security of the State,” and for a maximum period of a year if their behaviour is “prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.”

  2. In this period of lockdown, there was a severe clampdown on freedom of expression in Jammu and Kashmir. The report says that the Indian State pushed various local or ‘non-conformist’ newspapers in Kashmir out of business by creating unfavourable circumstances for them. This included arbitrary detentions and the harassment of the journalists, surveillance through media facilitation centres and withholding advertisements – the only source of revenue in Kashmir for newspapers.

  3. Nearly eight million people were denied the fundamental right to healthcare during the lockdown imposed after the abrogation of Article 370. Due to the communications shutdown and curfew, the supply-link between drug stores, stockists and depots was disrupted, resulting in shortages of key medicines in pharmacies. Patients who needed immediate and urgent treatment were unable to access healthcare facilities due to the unavailability of transport, including ambulance services, and the shortage of medical staff and medicines.

  4. The hospitalisation rate under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana or the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) reduced from the earlier 57 hospitalisations per lakh population to 6 in the three weeks following August 5, 2019. The report cites data from the National Health Authority, Government of India, to depict the reduction in hospitalisations after the government imposed internet shutdowns and restrictions on movement, especially since PMJAY is an entirely online system.

  5. Even though schools in Jammu and Kashmir were ordered to reopen from October 4, 2019, the lockdown in the region failed to provide a “favourable environment for teaching and learning.” The report states that even children were detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, resulting in fewer kids returning to schools from the fear of detention.

  6. Trade and food security were severely impacted during the lockdown. The prices of vegetables and fruits across Jammu and Kashmir increased due to the absence of market regulatory authorities. The report notes that there was a 90 per cent reduction in the supply of walnuts as compared to the previous year due to the blockades and curfews. Moreover, the failure of warehouse management severely hit the supply of perishable items, which impacted the daily wages of many, particularly street vendors.

  7. There was a sustained attempt to prevent any socialising and “break the spirit of community togetherness,” the report states. This included curtailing movements to reach communal gatherings for Eid and other festivals in Kashmir, and the detention of religious leaders.

  8. In addition to the arbitrary detentions, the report states, people were denied access to justice. Cases were closed without the knowledge of parties involved due to communication disruptions during the lockdown.

  9. As per the report, more than 4,000 people, including minors, were detained by the government for protesting peacefully against the revocation of Article 370 within the first four months of the lockdown. Yet, they were not granted any relief by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and the Supreme Court of India in the habeas corpus petitions filed by them.

  10. The report deems the Indian government’s claims of ‘normalcy’ in Jammu and Kashmir during this period to be a mere “myth.” Rather, it says, the government had established a “de-facto state of emergency.” In December 2019, when this report was published, internet services were still barred. This – as per the report – challenged any claims of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir.

    Focus and Factoids by Gautami Kulkarni.

AUTHOR

Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, Srinagar

COPYRIGHT

Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, Srinagar

PUBLICATION DATE

Dec, 2019

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