UNHCR commissioner’s rejoinder to India

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a rejoinder to Indian government’s objections regarding the UNHCR’s recent report about the human rights violations in Kashmir has urged India to have confidence to look into the human rights violations that have led to the alienation of the entire population of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the young people.
In his write up for The Indian Express, Hussain said: “I urge the Indian government to have the confidence to look at the human rights situation in Kashmir and understand…alienation of the entire population of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the young people. The people of Kashmir have repeatedly asked for justice and an end to the cycles of violence”.
Hussain maintained that the reaction of the Indian authorities to UN report was disappointing but also puzzling as the facts in the report were from government documents and sources. It is worth to mention here that the UN report has taken lid off the cauldron of the gory crimes, which India has been hiding from the world since a long time. The historic report carries a special significance because it discusses in detail not only the political dimension of the deadly conflict but also divulges the details about human rights violations, systematic violence and highlights a situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by Indian occupation forces.
Hussain mentioned “the seven decades of this dispute have wrought a heavy toll on all Kashmiris, who have been rendered voiceless amid the political polarization”. Hussain said: “…accountability for human rights abuses and violations cannot be indefinitely suspended while we wait for a political solution to Kashmir.
If anything, adhering to human rights principles can help reduce tensions and prepare the grounds for a sustainable solution”. Stressing the need for addressing the deteriorating human rights situation in the region on priority basis the UNHCR commissioner said that his office has been urging both the countries India and Pakistan since 2016 to allow unconditional access across both sides of Line of Control. He also expressed concern over the impunity enjoyed by Indian forces in Kashmir under the grab of Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA) and Public Safety Act(PSA). “How is it that a country that prides itself on its democratic institutions has not allowed a single trial in nearly 28 years of armed forces personnel accused of serious violations, including killings, rape, torture and enforced disappearances?,” he said.
Army chief Bipin Rawat has shamelessly rejected the UN report terming it as “motivated”, while External Affairs Ministry also dubbed it as “overtly prejudiced” and “false narrative”. To the contrary the UN report had mentioned the numbers of civilians killed or injured since July 2016 while citing the figures, which were presented by chief minister in the legislative assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. Mehbooba Mufti, the then Chief Minister informed the Assembly that 51 people were killed and over 9000 were injured during the 2016 uprising after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani. She also revealed that as many as 728 suffered eye injuries due to pellets out of which 510 were hospitalized. She added in her reply that 5,197 pellet victims were treated at district hospitals and the rest were referred to specialized treatment. She admitted that the highest number of deaths took place in district Islamabad followed by Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian.
It is quite unfortunate that the Indian authorities have been shamelessly rejecting the report, trying to downplay its importance by creating a smokescreen to befool the international community besides undermining the credibility of the highest body (UNHCR), the commissioner and his team who have worked painstakingly with world human rights organsations, rights activists in bringing out this report that takes lid off the cauldron of gory crimes, which the government of India has been trying to hide from the world since a long time. The Indian response to the report shows the prevailing state of nervousness and anxiety within its power structures as it not only exposes India’s horrid face before the world but it calls for an international inquiry into human rights abuses committed by its forces in Kashmir.
India since a long time has been trying to hide its atrocities from the world but it is ripe time that the world community particularly the influential world governments should take effective cognizance of the matter and play their due role in bringing an end to this macabre game of death and destruction in the region there by addressing the lingering dispute that has been cause and consequence of all human rights violations faced by the people.

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