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India orders Kashmiri shopkeepers to install CCTV systems

Shahana Butt
Press TV, Indian-controlled Kashmir

In Indian-controlled Kashmir, a recent order by authorities is giving sleepless nights to many business owners and shopkeepers. Business owners, big and small, are spending hundreds of dollars each to install security cameras: a mandatory move ordered by the authorities.

The official order says the scheme will "deter criminals; anti-social and anti-national elements". The order also outlines the minimum standards for camera resolution, infrared capability, and range.

The government's order has been highly criticized by business owners. They describe the move as a callous approach towards war-weary Kashmir's fractured business establishments, which were deeply dented after India canceled Kashmir's semi-autonomous status in August 2019.

Muzaffar Jan, a shop owner in the heart of Srinagar's busiest market Lal Chowk, says it has been days since he has seen a customer at his store.

However, to follow police instructions he was forced to pull out the money he had saved to run his household.

The order further instructs that the cameras, installed at the business owners' expense, must always stay on, the system should record and store footage for 30 days, and must be produced on demand of "police and other law enforcement agencies" without any court order. And failure to abide by the order will result in a fine or month-long imprisonment.

The level of surveillance in Kashmir is increasing day by day. Authorities argue that the measure will help them protect people’s lives. But Kashmiris are calling the move a "worrying development" and see it as a threat to their human rights, privacy and dignity.

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