New Delhi: Amnesty International India has appealed to the government to immediately release people detained in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement on Tuesday, the international rights body also demanded that the government restore full internet access and actively pursue trust building measures with the people of the region.
“A public health emergency is not an opportunity to bypass accountability. Continuing use of unlawful and arbitrary detention along with limited internet connectivity and medical facilities only add to the panic, fear and anxiety caused by COVID-19,” it said.
“The people of Jammu and Kashmir are entitled to live with dignity and be informed of the threats that COVID-19 poses to their health. Measures must be taken to protect people’s human rights in the region of Jammu and Kashmir and not further weaken them,” Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India, said in a statement.
Restrictions had been imposed and several detained in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5 last year when the Centre announced its decisions to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution that provided special status to the state and divided it into two Union Territories.
Data accessed by Amnesty International India from 37 Tehsils and 12 jails across Jammu and Kashmir show that at least 1,249 people were administratively detained, i.e. without any charge or trial by authorities,” it said and demanded their release.
Meanwhile Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Tuesday called for immediate release of all Kashmiri prisoners lodged in and outside of Kashmir jails in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement issued here, a Hurriyat spokesperson said that the prevailing situation caused by the Covid-19 spread poses a grave threat to the lives of the prisoners. The amalgam also sought help of human rights organisations in seeking release of the prisoners amid the unfolding humanitarian crisis.
“The situation demands they be released immediately so that their families, who are facing mental trauma, heave a sigh of relief,” Hurriyat spokesperson said.
Expressing concern over the rising Covid-19 cases, the conglomerate urged people of Jammu & Kashmir to strictly follow the guidelines as recommended by the health experts.
“In order to save human lives from this deadly outbreak, the people must strictly follow the Dos and Don’ts issued by the health experts, and as recommended, stay at homes,” the statement said.
It added that the people must venture out only in emergency case and that too with utmost care and precaution.
“People should not assemble outside homes, on streets and shops. We have to overcome this challenging situation with patience and courage,” the spokesperson added.(PTI)