ISLAMABAD - Human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Thursday expressed serious concern over the human rights situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and called upon Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end ongoing lockdown in the valley.

“If Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes that his decisions regarding Jammu and Kashmir have the support of the people of India, then he must immediately lift the 10-day-old communications blackout,” head of Amnesty International India Aakar Patel in a statement said, as India celebrated its independence day on August 15th.

Aakar Patel stressed that Prime Minister Modi must listen to the people in the region and engage with them when it comes to decisions affecting their lives.

“Right now, as India celebrates her freedom, the people of Jammu and Kashmir are unable to contact their loved ones and express their views freely. Any restrictions must always be limited in duration and proportionate for a legitimate purpose defined under international law,” he said.

The official said, “The ongoing complete clampdown on civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir would only increase tensions, alienate the people and increase the risk of further human rights violations.”

The press release of Amnesty International mentioned the lockdown and communications blackout in Kashmir, stressing that it not only restricted the outflow of information but also hindered access to education and healthcare.

The Amnesty International also expressed concern over detention of political opposition leaders and activists in the region including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti since 5 August.

It quoted the statement of a UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression as saying that “shutting down entire parts of communications systems can never be justified under international human rights law”.