UN rights chief ‘deeply concerned’ over Indian actions in Kashmir

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 09 (APP):The United Nations human rights chief Monday voiced deep concern over the human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir which has been under a repressive military lockdown since India’s annexation of the disputed state over five weeks ago that escalated tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi.

“I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris, including restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists,” Ms. Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in her opening statement at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Bachelet, a former president of Chile, opened the session and updated the 47-member Council on the situation of human rights worldwide.

She said her office continues to receive reports on the human rights situation, on both sides of the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region.

“While I continue to urge the governments of India and Pakistan to ensure that human rights are respected and protected, I have appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews; to ensure people’s access to basic services; and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained,” she said.

She also called for consulting people of Kashmir, in any decision-making processes, having impact on their future.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi last month wrote to the UN human rights chief requesting her to call upon India to end rights abuses in occupied Kashmir.

Qureshi, in a letter addressed to Ms. Bachelet, asked her to demand of India to “rescind its unilateral actions, lift the curfew and other draconian measures, and restore fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people”.

Referring to the citizenship list in India’s northeastern state of Assam, bordering Bangladesh, Bachelet said it has caused an uncertainty and anxiety to some 1.9 million people, mostly Muslims, excluded from the list published on Aug. 31.

“I appeal to the [Indian] Government to ensure due process during the appeals process, prevent deportation or detention, and ensure people are protected from statelessness,” she added.

India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5 and followed up by blocking communication access and has imposed curfews to thwart any protests by the oppressed people. It also sent additional troops to tighten its control on occupied Kashmir.

A number of countries, including the US, have expressed concern over curbs and called for a resolution of the grave crisis in Kashmir.

In his Aug. 8 statement, UN Secretary-General said he had been following the situation in Jammu and Kashmir “with concern”, making an appeal for “maximum restraint”.

“The position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter…and applicable Security Council resolutions”, said the statement.

“The Secretary-General also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan also known as the Simla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Charter.”

Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have repeatedly called on India , to lift restrictions and release political detainees.

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