TIC Focus l
- The United Nations has accused India again of human rights violations in Kashmir and has called for the formation of a commission of inquiry into the allegations. A 43-page report released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also accused Pakistan for detaining Kashmiri separatists in its portion of the disputed region.
- Yet the report makes stark differences between the Human right abuses in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and alleged violations in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) & Gilgit Baltistan (GB). India was deemed to be carrying out “serious human rights violations” in IOK while the report stated that the “human right concerns” in AJK & GB were “structural” in nature and revolved around freedom of expression and disappearances.
UN on Indian tactics in IOK
- The report has come down hard on Indian human rights violations in IOK. The report says that accountability of Indian troops in the region is “non-existent”, pointing out that no security personnel in the held region accused of torture and other abuses have been prosecuted in civilian courts “since the early 1990s”. The report has also condemned Delhi’s use of pellet guns, offering the gruesome statistic that over 1,200 people have been blinded by these weapons “from mid-2016 to the end of 2018”.
- The report noted that 160 Kashmiri civilians were killed in 2018, which is believed to be the highest number in over one decade. It says authorities in India-administered Kashmir “continue to use various forms of arbitrary detention to target protesters, political dissidents and other civil society actors”. The report criticized the special legal provisions for the Indian troops in Kashmir and called for the repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which has made accountability for human rights violations in Kashmir “virtually non-existent”.
- The OHCHR report noted that the figures provided by the Indian ministry of home affairs are lower, listing the death of 37 civilians, 238 terrorists and 86 security forces personnel till December 2, 2018. In contrast, Kashmiri civil society groups also cited a higher number of deaths of 267 terrorists and 159 Indian security personnel. The report again criticized the return of “cordon and search operations” in 2017, which “enable a range of human rights violations, including physical intimidation and assault, invasion of privacy, arbitrary and unlawful detention, collective punishment and destruction of private property”.
- The OHCHR report also noted that after the Pulwama attack on 14 Feb 19, there had been an uptick in the number of attacks against Kashmiri Muslims living and working in different parts of India.
Recommendations & Reactions
7. The report calls on the UN Human Rights Council to again consider creating “a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir“.
According to the UN, India requested the report not be published and dismissed the findings as “fallacious, tendentious and [politically] motivated” – similar wording to New Delhi’s rejection of the 2018 report.
8. In a tweet, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said the second UN report on Kashmir “once again affirms massive human rights violations perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces”.