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Kashmir group calls India’s internet ban ‘digital apartheid’ | India News

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A prominent rights group in Indian-administered Kashmir has called India’s communications blackout following the scrapping of the disputed region’s semi-autonomy last year “collective punishment” and urged the international community to question New Delhi over what it calls “digital apartheid”.

The Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) in its 125-page report released on Tuesday outlined “harms, costs and consequences of the digital siege” since August 2019, when New Delhi stripped the region of its statehood and the semi-autonomy that gave its natives special rights over land ownership and jobs.

The move, which set off widespread anger, was accompanied by a security clampdown and communications blackout in the region that left hundreds of thousands jobless, impaired the already feeble healthcare system and paused the school and college education of millions.

The multi-faceted and targeted denial of digital rights is a systemic form of discrimination, digital repression and collective punishment of the region’s residents.

JKCCS report

“The multi-faceted and targeted denial of digital rights is a systemic form of discrimination, digital repression and collective punishment of the region’s residents, particularly in light of India’s long history of political repression and atrocities,” the report, titled Kashmir’s Internet Siege, said.

Indian officials have repeatedly said the internet ban was aimed at preventing anti-India protests and attacks by rebels who have fought for decades for the region’s independence or unification with Pakistan, which administers another portion of Kashmir.

Thousands of additional troops were deployed in one of the most militarised regions of the world [File: Nasir Kachroo/Getty Images]

Both countries claim the landlocked Himalayan region in its entirety.

‘Settler colonialism’

India’s Hindu nationalist government has argued that the removal of Article 370 of the constitution – which granted special status to Kashmir – was necessary to integrate the Muslim-majority region with India, foster greater economic development and to stop threats from “anti-national elements” and Pakistan.

Many Kashmiris, however, view the move as the beginning of settler colonialism aimed at engineering a demographic change in India’s only Muslim-majority region, a development that could increase the possibility of heightened conflict.

Curfew imposed in Srinagar ahead of first anniversary of revocation

A curfew was imposed in Srinagar ahead of the first anniversary of the revocation of Article 370 on August 5 [Faisal Khan/Anadolu]

Although some of the communications restrictions have been removed and the internet on fixed lines has been restored, mobile internet speeds in most of the region remain painstakingly slow.

Digital rights activists have consistently denounced the internet restrictions and some have called them “far worse censorship than anywhere in the world”.

The conflict in Kashmir has existed since the late 1940s when India and Pakistan won independence from the British Empire and began fighting over rival claims to the Muslim-majority territory. The two rivals have fought two of their three subsequent wars over Kashmir.

The report released on Tuesday maps the consequences of the longest ever lockdown in the region’s turbulent history and its severe effect on livelihoods, education, health and press freedoms.

The JKCCS said it was based on fieldwork, government documents, court files and media reports.

Some business in the region resumed following the partial lifting of the clampdown earlier this year. However, Indian authorities enforced another harsh lockdown in March to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries pegged the economic losses in the region at $5.3bn and job losses at half a million since August last year.

During the service blackouts, critically ill patients could not access government healthcare or seek insurance reimbursements online, students could not apply for fellowships or scholarships and distraught families could not connect to relatives outside the region. Local tech companies had to close or relocate to other areas of India.

“While the Government of India has succeeded in gagging the voices of people of Jammu and Kashmir with its longstanding communication blockade,” the report said, “it should not prevent the international community from speaking and calling out the Government of India for suppressing the fundamental rights of people.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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