“This is the biggest threat to regional peace and stability,” the prime minister said in a tweet, while sharing the title page of British magazine The Economist with a lead article titled ‘Intolerant India: How Modi is endangering the world’s biggest democracy’.
The prime minister said already eight million Kashmiris and Muslims in India are suffering because of Modi’s fascist policies.
In its latest issue, The Economist has criticized the Indian government’s citizenship law which made the 200 million Indian Muslims vulnerable to becoming stateless and also sparked widespread protests. The magazine has also enlisted the article among the most read three articles from the latest issue.
Also on Saturday, Indian authorities ordered the restoration of low-speed mobile internet in Indian-held Kashmir, but allowed access to just 300 ‘whitelisted’ websites.
The order to restore second-generation (2G) mobile internet and data services, issued late on Friday, ended the longest such outage in any democracy. It was imposed nearly six months ago following the abrogation of the disputed region’s autonomy. “Mobile data services and internet access through fixed line shall be allowed through the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with some restrictions,” said a notification issued by the federal territory’s home department. The order said internet access will remain limited to ‘only whitelisted sites’ and social media applications that allow ‘peer to peer communications and Virtual Private Networks [VPN] applications’ will remain banned.
Internet and phone services in Indian-held Kashmir were snapped on August 5 after India stripped its only Muslim-majority region of limited autonomy by scrapping articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution.
For the last seven decades, the two legislations had protected the demography of the disputed region, home to more than seven million people.
Fearing protests over the scrapping of the Himalayan region’s autonomy, India’s Hindu nationalist government in August had sent in tens of thousands of extra troops, detained dozens of political leaders, and imposed a crippling military and communications clampdown. While most restrictions were eased in a phased manner, the internet shutdown continued.
On January 10, India’s Supreme Court asked the government to ‘review all orders suspending internet services’ and ruled that the indefinite suspension was ‘impermissible’. “Suspension of free movement, internet and basic freedoms cannot be an arbitrary exercise of power,” the court had said.
Friday’s order restoring internet followed the court’s ruling and will be reviewed on January 31. But the order restricts access to a minuscule list of 300 websites, including banks, some news portals, educational institutions, utilities, travel and food delivery applications. Social media remains offline.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army in yet another incident of ceasefire violation resorted to unprovoked firing along the Line of Control (LoC) on Saturday, injuring an unarmed civilian. Indian forces deliberately targeted the civilian population in Chirikot Sector along LoC, said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). “A 21-year-old woman from Serian village sustained serious injuries and evacuated to a nearby medical facility,” the military’s media wing added.
Ceasefire violations by the Indian troops have increased in frequency and intensity since the February 27 air battle, in which two Indian fighter jets were shot down and the pilot of one downed aircraft was captured – only to be released later as a goodwill gesture last year.
More than 1,267 incidents of ceasefire violations by Indian troops were reported last year in which at least 47 people – mostly civilians – were martyred and more than 241 injured.
Tellingly, more than half of the fatalities, 26 to be precise, have been reported in CFVs since August 5 when the Narendra Modi-led Hindu extremist government stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomous constitutional status and put the entire disputed region under siege.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that UN agencies including UNMOGIP have endorsed Pakistan’s claims on ceasefire violations by India across the Line of Control during the UN Security Council meeting on Kashmir earlier this month. He said UN officials appreciated Islamabad for giving them access to Azad Jammu and Kashmir whereas “they were denied permission to visit Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”
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