IOK people lose WhatsApp accounts

India’s civic space rating downgraded

Srinagar, December 05 (KMS): The Kashmir Valley and Muslim majority areas of Jammu and Ladakh regions of occupied Kashmir continue to simmer with anger amid continued suspension of Internet services and military lockdown of the territory.

Over eight million residents of the Valley are particularly bearing the brunt of the lockdown, which entered 123rd running day, today. The continued absence of mobile phone, SMS and Internet services has cut off people even from their surroundings. It has also badly affected businesses, education of students and working of journalists.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp accounts belonging to Kashmiris expired this week for remaining inactive for over 120 days due to the continued ban on internet services in the Valley. The accounts expired due to a policy of Facebook, which owns the messaging platform. Under the said policy, Whatsapp accounts which remain inactive for 120 days are deleted, automatically. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the deletion of WhatsApp accounts of the Kashmiris was indeed due to the aforementioned policy.

A delegation of Muslim leaders from Jammu during their visit to Kishtwar denounced the arrests of people in the Kashmir valley and Jammu region for raising their voice against the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by the Indian government on 5th of August.

Hurriyat leaders Mehmood Ahmad Saghar, Abdul Hameed Lone and Abdul Majeed Malik in their separate statements deplored the silence of international community over ongoing inhuman Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir.

On the other hand, an international alliance of civil society organisations, CIVICUS Monitor, in its 2019 report posted on its website downgraded India’s civic space rating from “obstructed” to “repressed”. Civicus Monitor expressed extreme concern about the crackdown on human rights activists, attacks on journalists and civil society groups, and military lockdown in occupied Kashmir. The international alliance of civil society organisations rates and tracks respect for fundamental freedoms in 196 countries.

Swedish King Carl Gustaf while talking to a group of journalists in the Indian city of Mumbai has said that his country has been acting as an observer in occupied Kashmir for the past several years.

Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy, in his address in the parliament admitted to have arrested 5,161 people in occupied Kashmir after August 5. However, the tentative estimates show that over 13,000 Kashmiris were arrested during the past four months.

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