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Over 500 scientists and scholars urge government to lift Kashmir restrictions

They describe communications curbs and detention of Opposition politicians and dissidents as 'deeply undemocratic'

G.S. Mudur New Delhi Published 21.09.19, 08:42 PM
An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard during security lockdown in Srinagar on August 14, 2019.

An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard during security lockdown in Srinagar on August 14, 2019. AP

Over 500 Indian scientists and scholars on Saturday urged the Narendra Modi government to lift the restrictions imposed in Kashmir, saying the government was “duty bound to uphold the rights and protect the welfare of all citizens”.

In a joint statement, the scientists and scholars from top academic institutions described the telecommunication and Internet curbs and the detention of Opposition politicians and dissidents in Kashmir as “deeply undemocratic”.


“Whatever views one might hold about these individuals, a fundamental norm in democracy is that the party in power does not have the right to lock up its political opponents when they have not even been accused of any crimes,” the signatories said.

The Modi government had on August 5 revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and simultaneously imposed the restrictions.

The scientists said the restrictions had made it difficult for people in Kashmir to procure essential supplies and medicines, and for their children to attend school.

“In our institutions, we have witnessed students suffering because they are unable to maintain contact with their families (in Kashmir),” they said.

The signatories were from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research; the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research in Calcutta, Pune and Thiruvananthapuram; the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Statistical Institute; several Indian Institutes of Technology and other academic institutions, including many universities.

Physicist Suvrat Raju, one of the signatories, told The Telegraph that the statement is significant “because it serves as a counterpoint to the dominant narrative that almost everyone in India supports the government’s policies on Kashmir.”

The statement highlights that many members of the scientific and academic communities do not do so, said Raju who works at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, TIFR, Bangalore.

“Members of research institutions usually stay away from political issues - so it is remarkable that this statement gathered more than 500 signatures within about 24 hours,” Raju said.

“This indicates there is |a significant level of |discontent with the government's policies within the academic and scientific communities.”

The statement has called on the government to lift restrictions hampering the lives of people, release dissidents and Opposition leaders and conduct transparent and impartial probes into allegations of human rights abuses in Kashmir by security personnel.

“We remind the government that it is duty-bound to uphold the rights and protect the welfare of all its citizens,” it said.

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