A law graduate in Delhi has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking information about his parents in Kashmir.
Mohammad Aleem Syed, a law graduate from Jamia Milia Islamia who is currently doing apprenticeship with a lawyer in Delhi, states that he has not received any information from his parents and brother in Kashmir since the intervening night of 4th/5th August.
Jammu and Kashmir has been put under curfew since August 5 after the Central Government took measures to modify Article 370 of the Constitution to take away the special status enjoyed by it. The Parliament has since passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill to bifurcate the state into Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
In the backdrop of these steps, curfew has been imposed in the state. The petition states that there is compete information blackout with the shut-down of internet and telecommunication networks. Although internet shutdowns are common in the area, with 53 such instances this year itself, the snapping of phone lines, TV, social media and other forms of media communication is unprecedented, states the petitioner.
The present clampdown is the most draconian in the history of Jammu and Kashmir and has no legal basis. The information blackout and the restriction in movement violates the fundamental right to freedom of expression and movement under Article 19 of the Constitution, he contends.
The petitioner, who moved from Anantnag to Delhi in 2014 to pursue his law studies, states that he had tried to contact the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag for information about his parents. But the attempts did not succeed and he raises the apprehension that his parents may have been detained.
"The petitioner herein fears that his parents are detained as he is unable to contact them since last 5 days and in absence of any concrete information he is only left with rumours of violence and killing in Kashmir valley"
"The petitioner further submits that no ground exist for keeping his parents and entire Kashmir valley under detention and even the United Nations Special Rapparteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, has stated that this draconian shutdown in Kashmir valley is unprecedented. The petitioner humbly submits that even though there has been communication blackout in Kashmir in past, he cannot recall when a blackout of this level where even landline and TV has been rendered useless ever happened in Kashmir valley.
The petitioner submits that such a blockade is in violation of Article 21 of the petitioner, his family members and the rest of Kashmir", states the petition filed through Advocates Anas Tanwir and Mrigank Prabhakar.
As a reason for directly approaching the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution, the petitioner states that the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir is physically inaccessible to him.