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UN releases report on rights status in Kashmir, PaK; demands inquiry

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Geneva, Jun 14 :The UN today released the first-ever report on alleged human rights violations in both Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK), as it demanded an international inquiry.

Asserting that there was an “urgent need” to address the past and ongoing human rights violations, the report said, “any resolution to the political situation in Kashmir should entail a commitment to ending the cycles of violence and accountability for past and current human rights violations.”

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).

The report said, “the people on both sides of the Line of Control have been detrimentally impacted and suffer from limitations or denial of a range of human rights.”

The UN “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of J-K from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad J-K and Gilgit-Baltistan” also noted since the late 1980s, “a variety of armed groups has been actively operating in the Indian state of J-K.”

“There has been documented evidence of these groups committing a wide range of human rights abuses, including kidnappings and killings of civilians and sexual violence,” it added.

“Despite the Government of Pakistan’s assertions of denial of any support to these groups, experts believe that Pakistan’s military continues to support their operations across the Line of Control in Indian-administered-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 jeopardize 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.

The report also talked about killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani by the Indian forces which triggered unprecedented protests in the Valley during this period.

The report also sought repealing of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA) “urgently” and also “immediately remove the requirement for prior central government permission to prosecute security forces personnel accused of human rights violations in civilian courts.”

This is for the first time the UNHRC has issued a report on the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir and PaK.

The report has given a detailed account of protests and incidents of alleged excesses by the Indian 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”.

Given that India has been maintaining that people in J-K were victims of “cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which was training and arming militants and helping them infiltrate across the Line of Control (LoC),” the UN report has not go down well with New Delhi.

The UN body also asked Pakistan to fully respect international human rights law obligations in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir.

It also asked Islamabad to end the misuse of anti-terror legislation to persecute those engaging in peaceful political and civil activities and expressions of dissent, and amend the anti-terrorism act to bring it in line with international human rights standards.

India rejects UN report on rights violation as ‘fallacious’

New Delhi, June 14 (PTI) India today rejected a UN report alleging human rights violations in Kashmir as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”.

In a strong reaction, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the report is “overtly prejudiced” and seeks to build a “false narrative”.

“It violated the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said.

In the report released today, the UN talked about alleged human rights violations in both “Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir” and sought an international inquiry into these abuses.

“India rejects the report. It is fallacious, tendentious and motivated. We question the intent in bringing out such a report,” the MEA said.

It added that the report is a “selective compilation of largely unverified information”.

“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 MEA said.

Taking objection to the UN using terms like “Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan” for Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK), 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.”

“We are deeply concerned that individual prejudices are being allowed to undermine the credibility of a UN institution,” the ministry added.

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.

Reference to PoK not be construed to create false sense of equivalence with Kashmir: Pak

Islamabad, Jun 14 (PTI) Pakistan today said that the reference to PoK in a UN report on alleged rights violations should in no way be construed to create a “false sense of equivalence” with Kashmir.

The UN today released the first-ever report on alleged human rights violations in both Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, as it demanded an international inquiry.

“This proposal is consistent with Pakistan’s several calls to this effect since 2016, even as India has continued to ignore legitimate demands for probe into gross and systematic violations…,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The FO said that the reference towards Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan “should in no way be construed to create a false sense of equivalence” with rights violations in Kashmir.

The FO said that the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report rightly called for final political solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir.

Pakistan said that the lasting solution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute is an essential imperative for peace, security and stability of South Asia and beyond.

“India’s continued denial of this imperative, its unwillingness to engage in a dialogue process with Pakistan and suppression of Kashmiri aspirations for freedom continue to endanger regional and international peace and security,” it alleged.

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