Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani
Modi Government used the offices of two NGOs International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS) and Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT) to encourage 27 Members of European Parliament to visit Kashmir. It was a desperate effort to seek to release the international pressure placed on India after 5 August’s unlawful action. The effort has backfired and raised questions of integrity for the visiting MEPs and the bona fides of Modi Government are in shambles.
India has tried to convince the world that the over 900000 Indian army in Kashmir, 90 day curfew, switching off the telephone and internet facilities from 5 August are steps taken for the welfare of the people, and that the world should not pay any attention to the two UN reports on the human rights situation in Indian administered Kashmir, report by APPG on Kashmir in the British Parliament, report by OIC’s Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), JKCHR documents released by the UN Secretary General as UN GA documents on Kashmir, testimonies heard by British Parliament, European Parliament and UN Congress and the OHCHR demand for an international independent commission to investigate the situation of Human Rights.
EU has distanced itself from the group of 27 who visited Kashmir. These MEPs have failed in duty to behave with integrity and discretion. Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and Diaspora have a lesson to learn from New Delhi.
New Delhi has remained very active in institution building. International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS) is an NGO in consultative status with the UN. It was able to host the 27 MEPs and pay for their travel and accommodation in Kashmir. These MEPs would not have accepted a direct visit request from Modi Government.
International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS) founded in 1980 is a genuine NGO with a consultative status at the United Nations. Its founder late Dr. Govind Narain Srivastava was a thorough gentleman and JKCHR would clash with him during our taking the floor on the Human Rights Situation in Indian administered Kashmir (IOK) at the Human Rights Commission and Sub Commission sessions and Parallel Activities organised at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Madi Sharma of Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT), front person in organising the visit, is a late entry in the field of civil society.
The financial resources of the IINS are generated through subscriptions, donations and contributions from private and public organizations, business houses, individuals, advertisements and sale of publications. As agreed at the UN World Conference on Human Rights, Governments make a contribution either directly or through various sources, without hurting the independence of the NGO. IINS and JKCHR have the same status at the United Nations. JKCHR remains in the lead as it has represented the Unrepresented Peoples and Nations of the World at UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. UN Secretary General receives JKCHR documentation on the situation in Kashmir and these are released as UN General Assembly Documents. The dignity and merit of our work remains a lead example.
IINS effort to take 27 MEPs to Kashmir does not mean that it has pulled any surprise pigeons from underneath its hat. JKCHR has invited a 6 member delegation of (comprising of leading personalities of the world) International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH-France based world’s oldest NGO) and World Society of Victimology (WSV) to visit refugees and victims of Indian repression in various camps in Azad Kashmir. It was a great achievement in 1994/95.
International Federation of Human Rights was first invited by the visiting Azad Kashmiri delegation led by Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan. FIDH declined the invitation and proposed that they were willing to visit Azad Kashmir, provided JKCHR invited them. JKCHR did invite FIDH. Government of Pakistan, Government of Azad Kashmir, businesses, philanthropists and individuals have not assisted in strengthening the constituency and reach of JKCHR. A woeful non-interest in institution building.
It was agreed at the UN World Conference on Human Rights, that Governments all over the world would allocate financial support to their NGOs without prejudicing their independence and mandate. Government of Pakistan and Government of Azad Kashmir have supported and continue to support non Kashmiri NGOs, but they would not support a Kashmir specific NGO JKCHR or encourage others to support it. JKCHR is the only NGO from any administration of Jammu and Kashmir which is in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.
Unlike International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS), JKCHR does not have any contribution through “subscriptions, donations and contributions from private and public organizations, business houses, individuals, advertisements and sale of publications.” Kashmiris and Pakistanis do not share the kind of Indian interest of ‘institution building”.
MEPs have offered themselves to a controlled tour conducted by the officers of Indian administration at a time when Kashmiris have no elected Government, State is run by a non-Kashmiri, an agent of New Delhi, people are imprisoned and life of all manner has come to a halt. These MEPs have been allowed into Kashmir, when members of Indian parliament, civil society and other independent groups have been disallowed or forced out of Kashmir, from the Srinagar airport.
MEPs should have known that Indian Government is at war with the people, it had refused entry to UN independent team into Kashmir to assess the human rights situation and that India has refused to discharge the burden of a pending charge of serious abuse of human rights and war crimes lodged against her in the two UN reports of June 2018 and July 2019.
It is widely known in India and outside India that the leader of the opposition in the Indian Parliament Ghulam Nabi Azad MP (Congress) and Yusuf Tarigami a former member of J & K Assembly (Communist Party of India) had to move to Supreme Court to be allowed to visit Srinagar. The permission granted to them to visit Kashmir was restrained and they were not allowed to speak to people and vice versa. Yusuf Tarigami was granted a limited entry, to deliver medicine to his mother locked in from 5 August. Daughter of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, Iltija Mufti too had to move to Supreme Court of India for permission to visit her own mother in their own house and in their own disputed State. Seventy year old female Prof. Suria Abdullah Ali and a number of other women have been imprisoned for their peaceful protest against the dismembering of State and turning Kashmir into a vanquished colony.
People have not been allowed to offer their Friday prayers since after 5 August action. Leadership remains under house arrest or have been removed from the State and lodged in Tihar jail in Delhi or in other remote prisons in various other States of India. People are quoting a common figure that about thirteen thousand Kashmiri children from the age of 9 to 16 have been taken out of circulations and the families have no information about their whereabouts except that they are languishing in various interrogation centres.
MEPs should have known that India has violated UN Resolutions 38 and 91 and keeps its 900000 army in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 47. It has failed to conduct a UN supervised referendum in Kashmir and had refused entry to UN Special Rapporteurs. It does not matter if the MEPs visit was sponsored by a genuine NGO, MEPs on balance have failed in their duty to behave with integrity and discretion.
The author is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.