UN expresses concern over continued human rights violations in held Kashmir
UNITED NATIONS: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday expressed serious concern over continued human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
A statement issued in Geneva by spokesperson of the OHCHR Rupert Colville urges the Indian authorities to unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that were currently being denied.
The statement said 12 weeks ago, on August 5, the government of India revoked constitutional provisions granting partial autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and announced the creation of two separate federally-administered Union Territories, which will come into effect this Thursday. At the same time, very restrictive measures were imposed. Although some of these measures have been relaxed, their impact on human rights continues to be widely felt.
The undeclared curfew imposed by the authorities in the region is reportedly still in place in large parts of the Kashmir Valley, preventing the free movement of people, as well as hampering their ability to exercise their right to peaceful assembly, and restricting their rights to health, education and freedom of religion and belief.
There have been several allegations of excessive use of force including the use of pellet-firing shotguns, tear gas and rubber bullets by security forces during sporadic protests, with unconfirmed reports of at least six civilian killings and scores of serious injuries in separate incidents since 5 August.
The statement mentions reports of armed groups operating in Occupied Kashmir threatening residents trying to carry out their normal business or attend school, as well as several allegations of violence against people who have not complied with the armed groups’ demands. At least another six people have been killed and over a dozen injured in alleged attacks by armed group members since 5 August.
The statement says hundreds of political and civil society leaders, including three former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, have been detained on a preventative basis. Most senior leaders, especially those from the Kashmir Valley, remain in detention.
It says the OHCHR has also received a number of allegations of torture and ill-treatment of people held in detention. These must be independently and impartially investigated.
The statement adds that all internet services remain blocked in the Kashmir Valley. Media outlets continue to face undue restrictions, with at least four local journalists allegedly arrested in the past three months.
It says the Supreme Court of India has been slow to deal with petitions concerning habeas corpus, freedom of movement and media restrictions.
Meanwhile, major political decisions about the future status of Jammu and Kashmir have been taken without the consent, deliberation or active and informed participation of the affected population. Their leaders are detained, their capacity to be informed has been badly restricted, and their right to freedom of expression and to political participation has been undermined.