The United Nations (UN) Thursday released the first-ever report on alleged human rights violation in Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and demanded an international probe into it, evoking a sharp reaction from India which termed the document as “fallacious and motivated.”
New Delhi also lodged a strong protest with the United Nations, saying the government is “deeply concerned that individual prejudices are being allowed to undermine the credibility of a UN institution.”
“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,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a strongly-worded statement.
In its 49-page report, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights focused on both Jammu and Kashmir (consisting of the Kashmir Valley, the Jammu and Ladakh regions) and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan).
Taking objection to the UN using terms like “Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan” for PoK, the MEA said, “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 UN also asked Pakistan to end its “misuse” of anti-terror legislation to persecute peaceful activists and quash dissent. “Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the report said.
It said special laws which are in force in the state such as the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA) have created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and
jeopardise the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.
“Impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances in Kashmir continues as there has been little movement towards credibly investigating complaints including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region,” it said.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra›ad Al Hussein said he will urge 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.
The report has given a detailed account of protests and incidents of alleged excesses by the security forces since 2016.
The UN body said based on the findings in its report, a commission of inquiry should be established to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir. It also asked India to set up an “independent, impartial and credible investigations to probe all civilian killings which have occurred since July 2016 and incidents of excessive use of force by security forces including serious injuries caused by the use of the pellet-firing shotguns.”
The UN body asked Pakistan to fully respect international human rights law obligations in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir.
The External Affairs Ministry called the report a selective compilation of largely unverified information and that it is “overtly prejudiced” and seeks to build a false narrative.
The MEA said terrorism was the most “egregious violation” of human rights and yet the authors of the report have conveniently ignored the pattern of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan and territories under its illegal control. “Cross-border terror and incitement is aimed at suppressing the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, disrupting its political and social fabric and undermining India’s integrity,” it said.
The MEA said it was disturbing that those behind the 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. “The motivated report deliberately ignores that fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution to every Indian citizen, including in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, are protected also by an independent judiciary, human rights commissions, free and vibrant media and an active civil society,” it said.
The MEA said India’s protest and views in the matter have been conveyed unequivocally to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Hussein said the political dimensions of the “dispute” between India and Pakistan have long been centre-stage, but this is not a “conflict frozen in time.”
“Any resolution of the political situation in Kashmir must entail a commitment to end the cycles of violence and ensure accountability for past and current violations and abuses by all parties,” Hussein added.