UN report on J&K: reflect, reform

UN report on J&K: reflect, reform

Srinagar: A security person stands guard during restrictions and strike called by separatists against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the state, at Lal Chowk, in Srinagar, on Saturday. (PTI Photo/S Irfan) (PTI5_19_2018_000048A)

A report of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) which is critical of the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the conduct of the government and its agencies there has been received with strong disapproval and protest in India. The report concerns not only J&K but also Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, and it has made strong observations on the situation in both areas. It has noted that there are excesses on the part of the security forces and that “impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice” are key challenges in the state. It has also observed that the special laws in force in the state have “created structures that obstruct the course of justice”. This is the first time the UNHRC has put out a report on Kashmir. It has even called for a credible and independent international investigation into the human rights violations in the state. 

India has protested to the UN, terming the report as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated’’ and violative of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The government has also said that the report is influenced by “individual prejudices’’. The opposition parties have also condemned the report, and the Congress has said that it should be junked. The report has been criticised as being based on indirect, unverified and incredible sources and as containing inaccuracies. But it must be noted that the main argument of the report is difficult to contest. There has been criticism within the country, too, of the human rights situation in Kashmir. The policies of the government and the actions of the security forces have frequently come under strong scrutiny and there have been calls and demands for a more humane approach. The existence of draconian laws like the Afspa and the use of pellet guns have been adversely commented on. The UN report may arguably contain inaccuracies and exaggerations, but it is a reminder of the need for review and reform of the policies being pursued in Kashmir. 

Army chief Bipin Rawat has also said that the report is “motivated’’ and that “we should not get too concerned with such reports’’. This is not the first time that Gen Rawat is making unnecessary public comments on matters which are not for him to comment on. He has also in the past expressed opinions with political overtones. He is setting a bad and wrong precedent by expressing his views and opinions in the public domain. In a democracy, the armed forces are and must remain subordinate to the elected government. Moreover, in Kashmir, it is some of the actions of members of his organisation that is being commented on. He cannot sit in judgement on them.

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