Indian police using repressive law to prevent access to social media

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Srinagar

Amnesty International has said that Indian police was using repressive counter terrorism law to prevent access to social media in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India, in a statement in Bangaluru, said while the government has a duty and responsibility to maintain law and order in the territory, filing cases under the repressive counter-terrorism law over vague and generic allegations and blocking social media sites is not the solution, Kashmir Media Service reported.
He was responding to the news that the police in occupied Kashmir have invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against people allegedly misusing social media sites through proxy servers in the territory.
He maintained, “Nearly 12 million residents in occupied Kashmir have been living through communication restrictions since 5th of August, 2019 and now the police is using the UAPA, a repressive counter terrorism law, against the people for overcoming the longest-ever internet ban imposed in the world by using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter through Virtual Private Networks (VPN)”.
“People arrested under this law can be kept for up to seven years in jail”.he said. He said “Indian government says such sites are blocked to curb the misuse of the sites by miscreants for propagating false information/ rumors but the government has almost total control over what information is coming out of the region”.
“The Indian government needs to put humanity first and let the people of Kashmir speak”,he added. Moreover a petition has been filed by 24 advocates in the Karnataka High Court challenging the resolution passed by the Hubli Bar Association, deciding that none of its members would appear for three Kashmiri students arrested on sedition charge.
According to Kashmir Media Service three students from occupied Kashmir, studying at a private engineering college in Hubli district of Karnataka, were arrested on Saturday on sedition charges for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans and posting a video on social media.
The petition filed by advocate B T Venkatesh and others was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice A S Oka which asked the petitioners to file an affidavit in court stating on oath the names of advocates who would file vakalath for the accused before the trial court. Following which all the advocates (petitioners), filed their personal affidavits stating their consent to appear for the accused. The petition will now be taken up for hearing on Thursday (February 20).
The petition reads, “The Petitioners are all advocates practicing within the State of Karnataka. They are filing this petition as public interest litigation, as the issues involved in this petition affect the right of legal representation of accused and the dignity of the legal profession. The issues raised herein affect the larger public interest and the fundamental right to all persons to legal representation.”
Further the petition seeks quashing of the resolution passed by the Hubli Bar Association that has prohibited any advocate from appearing for the accused in the case registered by the Gokul Road police station, Hubli. The Petition also seeks for appropriate action to be taken in regard to the attempted attack on these students by Advocates and other persons within the court premises.
The plea states that the resolution passed by the Hubli Bar Association is illegal and violates the fundamental right of the accused.—APP

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