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India slams UN report on Kashmir

Ministry of External Affairs says the UNHRC report violates India’s sovereignty and integrity and presents a false narrative

Gulf News

New Delhi: Describing it as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated,” India on Thursday rejected a United Nations (UN) report that called for a probe into alleged cases of human rights violations by Indian armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Tearing into both India and Pakistan, the report by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) blamed armed forces for alleged “murders, rapes and untold human suffering caused by the political conflict which affected millions of human lives in the region.”

“It is why I will be urging the UN Human Rights Council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussain said while releasing the first ever UN human rights report on Kashmir.

Reacting to that, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the report violated India’s sovereignty and integrity and presented a false narrative.

“The report violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan is in illegal and forcible occupation of a part of the Indian state through aggression. We have repeatedly called upon Pakistan to vacate the occupied territories. The incorrect description of Indian territory in the report is mischievous, misleading and unacceptable. There are no entities such as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” and “Gilgit-Baltistan,” the MEA said in a statement.

The Ministry said the report ignored cross border terrorism from Pakistan.

“It is a selective compilation of largely unverified information. It is overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative. It is disturbing that those behind this report have chosen to describe internationally designated and UN-proscribed terrorist entities as ‘armed groups’ and terrorists as ‘leaders’. This undermines the UN-led consensus on zero tolerance to terrorism,” it further added.

India said that such “malicious reports” would not succeed in undermining the government’s will to protect the territorial integrity of the country.

The UN report stated that shortly after protests broke out after killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July, 2016, both countries were asked for unconditional access to Kashmir.

India rejected the request while Pakistan said the access to Pakistan-administered Kashmir would only be given if India allowed access first. After that, OHCHR undertook remote monitoring of human rights violations.

The report, based on information available on public domain, condemned India for using pellet guns against the stone-pelting youth.

“As a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits torture under any circumstances (Article 7), India is obliged to ensure that no person is subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. There have long been persistent claims of torture by security forces in Kashmir,” Hussein said.

OHCHR also said that special laws in place like Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) and Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act created structures that obstructed normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardise the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.

“Public Safety Act (PSA) has reportedly been widely used by the authorities in J&K to stifle dissent. It has been used to target human rights defenders, 75 journalists, separatists, 76 political leaders, suspected members of armed opposition groups and people involved in protests,” the report said.

On Pakistan, the report said that there was violation of land rights, restrictions on freedom of religion and belief.

“There needs to be an urgent need for meaningful dialogue that includes people of Kashmir. Consider the findings of this report, including the possible establishment of a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir,” Hussain’s report stated.

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