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Legal rights group paints a bleak picture of human rights in Kashmir

The Legal Forum for Kashmir (LFK), on 31st December, issued the Annual Human Rights Review – Indian Occupied Kashmir 2022 report.

The report covers the time period from January to December 2022. As in the previous years, 2022 was marked by bloodshed of Kashmiris and subjugation of Kashmir’s civil society, illegal and arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders, journalists and religious activists. The totalitarian censorship and repression on all forms of media reporting about the ongoing situation in the occupied region has made it more difficult for human rights organizations and media to work independently.

According to the report, 2022 witnessed the killings of 181 freedom fighters besides the extrajudicial killing of 45 civilians at the hands of the occupying forces.

Indian troops launched 200 Cordon and search operations (CASOs) and Cordon and Destroy Operations (CADOs). The CASOs and CADOs also left 212 residential houses and other structures vandalized and destroyed at the hands of Indian occupying forces.

The infraction and suspension of rights makes Kashmir an information black hole. There were 169 instances of Internet blockade. Meanwhile, the Indian fascist state remains infamous as the ‘Internet shutdown capital of the world’, ranking first globally for chronic Internet shutting downs.

More than 24 structures (houses, schools, land and orchards) of Kashmiris were confiscated after their owners were accused of supporting the freedom struggle and 350 more were identified for confiscation.

The report added that in January 2022, thousands of acres of land in Gulmarg and Sonamarg area of Occupied Kashmir were declared as ‘strategic areas’ and seized by the Indian military. This is a brazen violation of International Law governing the disputed nature of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Additionally, the Indian authorities in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir terminated services of over 40 employees – almost all these terminated employees are Muslims. On one hand, the Indian state recruited retired security personnel from all over India for civilian posts in Kashmir. But at the same time, they are deliberately firing Kashmiri Muslim employees to offset the balance in the administration & disempowering locals.

The report also highlighted the curbs on religious freedoms in Kashmir. It pointed to the closure of Kashmir’s largest mosque, Jamia mosque, for 198 weeks in the last six-years. Dozens of Imams and preachers were routinely harassed and detained, while many of them were booked under draconian laws like Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Public Safety Act.

When it comes to militarization, the report emphasized its increasing intensity, pointing to the April of 2022 when India decided to deploy additional 300 companies of its occupation forces personnel in Kashmir. In May 2020, Indian authorities decided to deploy an additional 15,000 of its occupation forces personnel in Occupied Kashmir.

There’s a pandemic of illegal detentions that only intensified in the year 2022 according to the report, as 382 cases of illegal detentions were observed.

India has long been brutally repressing the struggle of Kashmirs’ human rights, above all the inalienable Right to Self-determination. It has relied on intense coercion ever since 1947, these policies were intensified by the decrees put into effect by India in August 2019 and the year 2022 serves as another reminder of the towering human cost that the Indian occupation of Kashmir causes. The statistics and figures do not reflect merely numbers, but the living and breathing population of Kashmiris, who have been denied a dignified existence for decades.

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