Kashmir dispute: UN ‘deeply concerned’ over restrictions

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The UN has said the latest restrictions imposed on Indian-administered Kashmir are deeply concerning and “will exacerbate the human rights situation”.

A UN spokesperson highlighted a telecommunications ban, the arbitrary detention of leaders and a ban on political assembly.

The region has been on lockdown since Sunday with communication cut off.

It came as India made the controversial decision to remove its special constitutional status.

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Kashmiris in other parts of the country said that they were unable to get through to their families. Local political leaders have also reportedly been detained.

The BBC has spoken to people inside the region, and has seen people beginning to protest and throw stones at Indian armed forces

In the video statement posted on Twitter, the spokesperson reiterated the UN’s previous concerns over the human rights situation in Kashmir saying a previous report had “documented how authorities have repeatedly blocked communications networks to muzzle dissent, used arbitrary detention to punish political dissidents and employed excessive force while dealing with protests leading to extra judicial killings and serious injuries”.

But he said the new restrictions had taken the situation to “a new level”.

He said the UN was now “seeing again blanket telecommunications restrictions, perhaps more blanket than we have seen before”.

He warned the bans would prevent people from “participating fully in democratic debate about the future status of Jammu and Kashmir”.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, but each country controls only part of it.

There is a long-running separatist insurgency on the Indian side, which has led to thousands of deaths over three decades

Under Article 370 of the Indian constitution, the state of Jammu and Kashmir had special dispensation to make its own laws – the basis for its complex relationship with India for some 70 years.

However, the Indian government has now controversially revoked most of Article 370.

In response, Pakistan has announced plans to expel India’s top diplomat and suspend trade with its neighbour, deepening a row between the countries over the disputed territory.

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