UN Kashmir update draws India's ire

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks at a news conference after meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas (Reuters File Photo)

India on Monday lodged a strong protest with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) over its latest report on excesses by security forces in Kashmir.

New Delhi dismissed the update to the 2018 report of the OHCHR, calling it “merely a continuation of the earlier false and motivated narrative on the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir”.

The government alleged that the assertions in the report were in violation of India’s sovereignty and ignored the core issue of cross-border terrorism coming from Pakistan.

The latest UN report on the situation prevailing on both sides of the LoC in Kashmir noted that the number of civilian casualties reported over the 12-month period from May 2018 to April 2019 might be the highest in over a decade. It also slammed both India and Pakistan for not taking any “concrete step” to address the concerns raised in an earlier report of the UN.

The update on Kashmir referred to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Harakat Ul-Mujahideen as “armed groups”.

“It is a matter of deep concern that this Update seems to accord a legitimacy to terrorism that is in complete variance with UN Security Council (UNSC) positions,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the MEA, said in New Delhi.

He noted that the UNSC had, in February 2019, strongly condemned the “dastardly” Pulwama terror attack on February 14 this year.

The UNSC had subsequently proscribed Masood Azhar, leader of the terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which had been responsible for killing of over 40 CRPF personnel.

“However, in the (latest) update (to the OHCHR 2018 report on Kashmir), terrorist leaders and organisations sanctioned by the UN are deliberately underplayed as armed groups,” said Kumar, adding that the “legitimisation of terrorism has been further compounded by an unacceptable advocacy of the dismemberment of a UN member State”.

He reiterated New Delhi’s position that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir was “an integral part” of India and Pakistan was “in illegal and forcible occupation of a part of the Indian State”, including the “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” and “Gilgit-Baltistan”, “through aggression”.

The OHCHR latest report noted that accountability for violations committed by members of the Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir state of India remained “virtually non-existent”.

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