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EDITORIAL: The tongue is to human body what freedom of speech or expression is to society. Take out the tongue the body becomes just a lump of flesh and bone.

Rightly then the right to freedom of speech and expression is considered and accepted as a fundamental human right. Freedom of expression is vital to our ability to convey opinions, convictions, and beliefs and to meaningfully participate in democracy.

No wonder then the Universal Declaration of Human Rights mandates that right to freedom of expression is a fundamental right and must be respected by all countries. Be that as it may, Article 19(1) of India’s constitution clearly states that “all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression”.

But as for the India-held Kashmir this right is only on paper, as its violation, not once but always, is the kind of governance the people of IIOJ&K (Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir) have to live with.

Much to the letdown of conscientious world India is also not likely to lend ear to the call of the Amnesty International that in its latest report on state of freedom of speech and expression in Held Kashmir holds the Modi government accountable for human rights violation.

Amnesty International has called on the Indian government to end the repression of rights of people in the India-held Kashmir, release those arbitrarily detained and ensure they are tried promptly and fairly in a regular court. It also called upon the international community to hold India accountable for human rights violations.

According to the AI report, India is set about putting in place unlawful surveillance measures, arbitrary detention, and restrictions to freedom of expression, and simultaneously conceal its actions to escape notice of the international community.

It also asked India to drop all politically motivated charges against journalists and human rights defenders and work to step up representation and participation of the people of IIOJ&K in decision-making processes.

The Amnesty International report rejected the Indian claim that all it did is in “legitimate response to terrorism”. What India calls terrorism, and agreed to by states watching the bloodbath in Kashmir through their business-jaundiced eyepiece, is a war for liberation — and it will be won by the Kashmiris.

Don’t we know that the so-called loyalist Kashmiri leadership, which kept clinging on to power even after their state lost its autonomous status, are now wonderstruck at the kind of resistance the freedom fighters have offered to one of the world’s largest armies.

How come the Amnesty International report, which is read word by word in IIOJ&K and some other places like Pakistan, doesn’t take much time to be consigned to the dustbin in the West, which is otherwise never short on telling us what is happening with Muslims in western China or elsewhere.

Hopefully, the Amnesty International will reprint this report in red and place it on the desks of top executives in the West and its Arabic translation on some desks in the Arabian sheikhdoms.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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