As per the US based human rights watchdog Freedom House, India’s status has downgraded from “free” in 2019 to “partly free” in 2020. In its annual report, the think tank accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of “driving India toward authoritarianism” with a “hamfisted lockdown”, scapegoating of Muslims, and a crackdown on critics.
What many people missed was the score given to “Indian Kashmir” in the same report. While India was scored 67 out of 100 in 2020, Indian Kashmir* was scored 27 out of 100, meaning “Not Free”. The score for Political Rights in the territory stood at 7/40, while score for Civil Liberties was 20/60. The total score dropped with one point from that of 2019.
What brings a drop in Kashmir’s Political Rights?
If one looks at the World Freedom Index reports of previous years, Indian Kashmir’s status declined from ‘Partly Free’ to ‘Not Free’ from 2018 to 2019. Note that it was 2019 when the region’s autonomous status was revoked, and the state of Jammu and Kashmir was constituted as two union territories under direct control of the Central Government. Following the August action, communication, internet access, and freedom of assembly were severely restricted. Public services such as transportation, and large parts of the economy ceased to function during that time. The competitive multi party system that operated in the region got suspended with the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act. Thousands of party members and political activists were detained without charge.
How liberated is Kashmir in Freedom of Expression?
According to the Freedom House, print media was thriving in Jammu and Kashmir until mid-2019. Online media presence had increased, but was ceased after the announcement of the region’s changed administrative status. The situation was accompanied a severe clampdown on local and foreign journalists activities, lengthy shutdowns of internet and telephone services.
What’s the status of PoK?
The report marks PoK on an equal scale as that for Indian Kashmir. The lack of parliamentary representation and other rights in both territories of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is promoted the idea of Kashmir’s eventual accession to Pakistan. Political activities, freedom of expression and association against Pakistan are severely restricted.
*The above mentioned points have been adopted from the World Freedom Index report The Freedom House and does not associate with the opinion of the Grill Post.