UN Warns India’s ‘Draconian’ Blackout in Kashmir a ‘Worrying Precedent’

Some people in Kashmir haven't even heard of constitution change

UN special rapporteur David Kaye has issued a statement expressing concern about the draconian level to which the Indian government has taken its communications blackout in Kashmir since revoking the region’s historic legal autonomy on Monday.

Kaye, a rapporteur on freedom of expression, said Kashmir sets a “worrying precedent,” and wondered if it might not signal a new way for democracies to clamp down on information access in contentious areas.

India shut off all Internet, cellphone, and landline telephone services on Monday, and have left them shut off, while security forces have banned public gatherings and severely restricted travel. Local reporters say that the blackout is so severe that some in Kashmir have not even heard yet that India rewrote their constitution to strip Kashmir of its autonomy.

India imposes communications blackouts in Kashmir often, on the pretext of preventing protest organization. They did it 134 last year. So for people in more remote parts of Kashmir, as far as they know this is just one of those blackouts, and not the start of a new clampdown on autonomy in the area.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.