The global watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged India to release political prisoners, end crackdown operations and restore internet and mobile services in occupied Kashmir.

The HRW South Asia Director, Meenakshi Ganguly in a statement issued on the website of the organization said that it had been over two months since the Indian government revoked constitutional autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two union territories, yet abusive restrictions including a lockdown on internet and mobile phone services remained in place.

HRW South Asia Director said, numerous foreign leaders have expressed concern over the government’s continued detention of Kashmiri leaders and anyone deemed likely to protest, use of torture, restrictions on movement enforced by a massive military presence, and problems in accessing public services, including emergency medical care.

“India has said that the restrictions have saved lives and maintained order. But fear of arbitrary arrests and shootings by Indian forces has left the Kashmir valley full of shuttered shops and empty classrooms.

The authorities have blocked visits by diplomats, international journalists, Indian activists, and opposition politicians,” she pointed out.

“Indian authorities should announce an end to repressive actions and hold to account forces’ personnel responsible for abuses. They should release all those detained without charge and restore communications. Months of a broad-based clampdown on civil liberties can’t be justified by vague claims of maintaining order,” the statement said.

Indian activists filed a complaint with the Supreme Court to ensure protection of children after the media reported that many had been detained, beaten, or denied safe access to schools.

Police say the reports are exaggerated, but still provided a list of 144 children, one as young as 9, who had been taken into custody, Meenakshi Ganguly said.

Indian authorities have relied on pro-government media and social media supporters to defend the crackdown and denounce rights activists. Any criticism of the government can draw swift rebuke, including sedition, which can stifle peaceful dissent, the statement said.