The UN released the first-ever report on alleged human rights violations in both Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, as it demanded an international inquiry.
India reacted sharply to the report, terming it “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”, and 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. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also asked Pakistan to end its “misuse” of anti-terror legislation to persecute peaceful activists and quash dissent.
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.” 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.”
India has maintained that the country’s democracy has all that is required to address legitimate grievances. There can’t be any comparison between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as “the former has a democratically elected government while the latter has seen a Pakistani diplomat arbitrarily appointed as its head”, Indian officials have said.
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.” The report also talked about killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani by the Indian forces which triggered unprecedented protests in the Valley during this period.
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.
The report also sought repealing of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 “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 PoK.
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 may not go down well with New Delhi.