Freedom House declined Kashmir freedom status to ‘not free’ after the Narendra Modi government “abruptly” stripped residents of Kashmir of fundamental political rights

India maintained its place in the “Free” category but dropped its position from 75/100 in 2019 to 71 in 2020.

Blamed the government for ‘alarming departures’ from democratic norms.

Kashmir freedom status declined from ‘partly free’ to ‘not free’ in the latest report of freedom in the world 2020, published by Freedom House, a non-profit advocate of democracy and human rights-based out of the US.

The organisation which assessed Kashmir separately from India and called it the Indian Kashmir said the decline in the status is because of India’s ‘alarming’ departures from democratic norms under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The Indian government has taken its Hindu nationalist agenda to a new level. Several of India’s neighbours have persecuted religious minorities for many years. But instead of stressing the contrast with its own traditions and seeking to propagate them abroad, India is moving toward the lower standards of its region,” the organisation noted in its annual report.

The report blamed the decision of “abruptly” stripping residents of Kashmir of basic political rights by abrogating the semiautonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir. It also criticised “massive deployment of troops and arbitrary arrests of hundreds of Kashmiri leaders and activists,” by the Indian government. It also said the reorganisation of politics in J&K was claimed “unconstitutional” by the opposition.

The organisation carried out the assessment using different indicators divided into seven categories such as electoral processes, political processes and pluralism, the functioning of government, freedom of expression and belief, association and organisational rights, the rule of law, personal autonomy and individual rights. It is derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.

The report lists 195 countries out of 100 based on those indicators.

Although, India maintained its place in the “Free” category but dropped its position from 75/100 in 2019 to 71 in 2020. The organisation blamed the “deeply flawed” Assam’s population register. It said, “the process was widely understood as an effort to exclude Muslims, many of whom were descended from Bengalis who arrived in Assam during the colonial era. Those found to be undocumented immigrants were expected to be placed in detention camps.”

The report also ranks Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as 38, 39 and 58 respectively and rated them as “partly free”. China is ranked 10 with a status of “not free” largely because of its political rights.

Although for the first time since the nullification of Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir, yesterday (March 4) allowed citizens to access social media through a 2G mobile network.

Nearly 65 lakh Internet users were able to access social media after seven months in J&K.