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India officials stop Amnesty International event in Kashmir

June 12, 2019

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir stopped Amnesty International from holding an event on Wednesday announcing a report on detention of activists in the disputed region under a law that allows people to be held for up to two years without trial.

The authorities cited the “prevailing law and order situation,” said Aakar Patel, head of the Indian chapter of the global rights watchdog. He said the officials did not give any other explanation.

For years, rights groups, including Amnesty International, have criticized India for using the Public Safety Act to stifle voices of dissent in Kashmir.

Amnesty International released the report online later Wednesday. It said the law circumvents the criminal justice system in the region “to undermine accountability, transparency and respect for human rights.”

Calling it a “lawless law,” the group urged that it be repealed, saying it violates several of India’s obligations under international human rights law.

The report studies the cases of 210 people who were detained under the law between 2012 and 2018.

“This act is contributing to inflaming tensions between the state authorities and local populace and must be immediately repealed,” Patel said.

Authorities declined to comment and phone calls to several government officials went unanswered.

According to rights activists, over 20,000 Kashmiris have been detained under the law in the last two decades.

India and Pakistan each claim the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989.

Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

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