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Friday Jan 10 2020
Web Desk

India's Supreme Court says internet shutdown in Kashmir unconstitutional

Web Desk
Internet and prepaid mobile services in Kashmir are yet to be restored. Photo: Reuters

NEW DELHI: India's Supreme Court ruled on Friday that shutting down internet in occupied Kashmir was unconstitutional in a rebuke for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.

New Delhi imposed a communications lockdown in August last year after it withdrew the Muslim majority region's autonomy, aiming to control unrest, reported Reuters news agency.

An indefinite suspension of the internet is a violation of the country's telecoms rules, the court said, ordering authorities in occupied Kashmir to review all curbs in a week's time.

Also read: 'Free Kashmir' poster surfaces at Delhi university

Diplomats visit occupied territory in state-run visit

Foreign diplomats visited Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) on Thursday for the first time since August, but some European nations and others declined to go after being refused permission to travel independently.

Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, said diplomats of 15 countries, including the United States, were on a two-day trip “to see first-hand the efforts that have been made by the government to normalise the situation”.

Also read: EU envoys refuse Kashmir visit, say don’t want a ‘guided tour’

The trip includes meetings with the army, politicians, civil society groups and journalists selected by the security services, two officials familiar with the plans said.

The diplomats will not be given access to Omar Abdullah or Mehbooba Mufti, the leaders of the two political parties that have historically dominated occupied Kashmir.

Also read: Facebook blocks Radio Pakistan’s live streaming of Kashmir coverage: report

Both were among hundreds of political and civil society leaders detained during the August crackdown and remain in custody, and their plight was raised with the delegation, said Ghulam Hassan Mir, a politician that met the group.

Also read: US ambassador Alice Wells to arrive in Pakistan on January 19

The August crackdown drew international criticism, and diplomats from several countries say they have raised concerns about human rights in occupied Kashmir with foreign ministry officials.

Access to the region for foreign observers, including diplomats, rights groups and journalists, is tightly controlled. Foreign envoys are rarely granted permission to travel outside of Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar. Foreign journalists have not been granted permission to visit since August.