ISLAMABAD                   -                    While commenting on ongoing demonstrations in various parts of the world against coronavirus lockdowns, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that perhaps the international community can now understand the sufferings of Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said under an inhumane politico-military lockdown has been enforced for over eight months now without any provision of medical, financial, communication or food assistance.

He said in fact the racist and supremacist Modi government has ensured that Kashmiris are deprived of all basic amenities during lockdown.

The Muslim majority region has been under a strict lockdown since New Delhi stripped it of autonomy and statehood in August 2019.

Authorities have detained thousands and introduced one of the world’s longest-running internet shutdowns, only restoring limited 2G mobile internet in January.

Despite pleas from several rights groups to ease restrictions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has refused to do so.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international watchdog monitoring freedom for journalists, in its latest World Press Freedom Index report has noted that it has become “virtually impossible” for journalists to report from the Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK), and pushed India two spots down from last year to 142.

While noting the difficulties for reporters in the region, the group called Kashmir a “vast open prison” due to shutting down of fixed-line and mobile Internet connections by the Narendra Modi-led government.

The RSF also stated that there were constant press freedom violations in the country, including police violence against journalists, ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups and corrupt local officials.

“Ever since the general elections in the spring of 2019, won overwhelmingly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, pressure on the media to toe the Hindu nationalist government’s line has increased,” said the report.

India had also passed a new law last year that grants citizenship to religious minorities fleeing from Muslim-majority countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh but excludes Muslim immigrants.

The new legislation, known as the Citizenship Amendment Bill, is an amendment to India’s Citizenship Act 1955. It proposes to grant nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis, who arrived in India before 2015 but not Muslims.

Thousands of people who see the law as anti-Muslim have taken to the streets in India against the CAA triggering violent unrest. A southern state imposed curbs on public gatherings to pre-empt further demonstrations. Many university students who were protesting against the bill were arrested by the authorities as well.