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Civil Society group welcomes UN report on Kashmir

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jun 14: Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) welcome today’s important report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Geneva.
This is the first report by the United Nations exclusively on Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir.
After continually being denied access since 2016, the OHCHR has based this report (49 pages in total) on its remote monitoring of the situation on ground, with closer attention to the period of July 2016 to April 2018.
This report affirms that J&K requires special attention and is a signal to governments that the United Nations is closely monitoring the everyday violence and the role of the parties to the dispute. It is also an affirmation of the documentation work done for decades. Following the early UN Security Council resolutions, this report has deep symbolic value following years of silence by the United Nations.
Yet, this report remains connected to the historicity of the J&K conflict, and past UN Security Council resolutions, as it urges the governments to “respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law” and favours dispute resolution through “meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir”.
The report ends with a series of recommendations, the most crucial of which is a call for an independent, international enquiry in the form of a “Commission of Inquiry” to be constituted by the UN Human Rights Council (inter-governmental body established by the United Nations to monitor human rights).
Commissions of Inquiry prove to be an effective tool for the United Nations and have been formed in the past to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights, international humanitarian law or international criminal law and make recommendations for corrective action based on their factual and legal findings (past examples include Palestine, Lebanon, East Timor and Syria).
In the absence of any fair and proper investigations in J&K to date, UN Human Rights Council constituted Commission of Inquiry would be an important intervention.
The report addresses key human rights issues, with a major focus on the role of Government of India in IaK. The report highlights the “widespread and serious human rights violations” committed primarily by Government of India and the state of virtually absolute impunity where, through examples, the role of the Supreme Court of India is questioned for not intervening in J&K related human rights cases. Violations range from crimes of extra-judicial executions and excessive force (including by use of pellet shotguns), enforced disappearances, sexual violence, torture, arbitrary detention (including through the use of the Public Safety Act, 1978) and other violations of basic human rights. The report notes the existence of unmarked and mass graves and recommends impartial and credible investigations, including though assistance of the international community. Military courts are unequivocally rejected as effective substitutes for civilian courts of justice in the case of crimes against civilians.
The call for a Commission of Inquiry – an international independent inquiry – is in keeping with past demands by JKCCS and APDP, in light of the unwillingness of Government of India to allow for functioning of any processes of justice and fair and proper investigations. In addition, past offers of international assistance (European Parliament in 2008 for the investigation of unmarked and mass graves) have been rejected. It is imperative that a Commission of Inquiry be instituted to: a) record the violence, b) document the role of State institutions, including the judiciary, in systemic denial of justice, and, c) ascertain State and individual responsibility as per international human rights, international criminal, and international humanitarian law.
JKCCS and APDP emphasize that this report must serve as a beginning of continued and sustained OHCHR attention on J&K. As an immediate measure:
OHCHR, on its own initiative, and endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, continue to monitor the situation in J&K and seek unconditional access for on the ground investigations. Crucially, all parties of the dispute must continue to be held to international human rights, international criminal and humanitarian law standards.
UN Human Rights Council consider the instant OHCHR report (in the present regular session beginning on 18 June or in a special session) recognize the urgency of the situation, and immediately constitute a group of reputed experts in the form of a Commission of Inquiry and both Governments of India and Pakistan must grant them unconditional access. This will serve as a vital first step to deter the ongoing violence, secure the evidence of crimes, and result in a more permanent mechanism at the UN Human Rights Council in the form of an international expert as a Special Procedure to monitor the human rights situation in J&K.
Other UN bodies, including the Security Council, with greater powers, must also give renewed attention to the situation in J&K.


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Govt reviews RDD projects in Kashmir, Ladakh

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 19: Secretary, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Sheetal Nanda Friday chaired a meeting to review the progress and implementation of programmes of RDD and Panchayati Raj.
The meeting was attended by Director Rural Development, Kashmir, Qazi Sarwar, Director Panchayats, Muhammad Nazir Sheikh, Chief Operating Officer, Himayat, Kapil Sharma, Mission Director, Umeed, Abdul Rashid War, Chief Executive Officer IWMP Mohammad Rafi, Additional District Development Commissioners of various districts, Additional Secretary/ Member Secretary MGNREGA, Rakesh Kumar Badyal, Joint Director Planning Subash Chander, all ACDs and DPOs of Kashmir Division.
The Secretary reviewed the district-wise and Panchayat-wise achievements and took stock of physical and financial achievements registered under various schemes of the department. A threadbare discussion was held on the works taken up under MGNREGA, 14th Finance Commission, Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), Integrated Watershed Management Programme, Umeed, Himayat and other Panchayat related programmes.
The Secretary stressed upon the completion of incomplete works, geo-tagging of all assets, increasing aadhar based payments, implementation of SECURE software for preparation of estimates and T+7 model for timely payments. She said that all out steps are being taken to bring transparency in the scheme.
While reviewing the progress of MGNREGA, the meeting was informed that as many as 5,68,099 Households have been provided job cards and a total of 12.85 lakh Person-days (PDs) have been generated so far under the scheme in FY 2019-20 alone.
With regard to PMAY (G), the meeting was briefed that as many as 7750 have received first instalment while 6361 have been credited with the second instalment and 5168 have got the third and the last payment for construction of the houses. She stressed on early completion of works before the onset of winters so that the main purpose of shelter to houseless is achieved.
The overall performance and achievements of Panchayats was also reviewed. The Districts Panchayat Officers and Rural Engineering Wing were directed to ensure all estimates and approvals for 14th FC are completed in a mission mode and the actual execution of plans on the ground is started at the earliest. The DPOs were also directed to activate the social audit committees framed during Back to Village Programme.
She also took stock of the Digital Literacy Trainings being provided to the Sarpanches and emphasized that the involvement of Panches in process of planning and execution is also to be ensured.
The status of New Panchayat Ghars to be constructed and old ones to be repaired was also reviewed alongwith the registration of Panchayat accounts on PFMS and registration of Digital Signatories of Sarpanches for Payments under 14th FC and MGNREGA.

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Family appeals missing ‘depressed’ son to return

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Jul 19: A desperate family of a missing Srinagar youth has made an emotional appeal urging him to return home.
Twenty something Fazil Latief Makroo left home on Sunday but did not return home.
Family immediately lodged a missing report in the police station Nowhatta, but so far he has not been traced.
“On Sunday afternoon, after having lunch, he left his home as usual for outing. Since then, we have been searching for him but to no avail,” said Latief Makroo, Fazil’s father.
Latief, a farmer by profession said that Fazil has been suffering from depression.
“He is undergoing treatment for depression. He is a good boy and particular about Salah. We have no idea, why he left us. His younger brother and sister are waiting for him,” said Parvaiz Ahmad, Fazil’s cousin.
Family has also appealed the general public to inform the police in case they have any information about the missing youth.
“After we failed to trace him, we lodged a missing report in police station Nowhatta. The police has been looking for him. If anybody has information about his whereabouts, he/she may please contact us or police station Nowhatta,” he said
Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO), Khanyar, Farhan Janbaaz said efforts were on to trace Fazil.
“We are in touch with his friends and enquiring from them,” he said

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KEG to take legal recourse over ‘TOI’ report

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 19: Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) has taken a strong exception to a news report published from Srinagar by ‘The Times of India’ and has decided to take legal recourse over the report.
The editors termed the TOI report, which casts aspersions on the Kashmir based journalists “malicious, propagandistic, motivated and defamatory.”
In a statement, KEG said the report has raised points questioning the integrity of the members associated with KEG and the Kashmir Press Club (KPC), terming them as a creation of ISI and ‘Jehadi Journalists’.
Notably, KPC conducted its first elections last week wherein a managing body was elected through an overwhelming participation of journalists working in Kashmir and the entire exercise was appreciated by all quarters in the state.
The editor’s body felt perturbed over the consequences of such a life threatening piece of reportage published by TOI.
“KEG is a body of 15 editors and has been working for the issues facing the media. It has been there since 2008 and even earlier,” the statement read.

Press Club to take up matter with TOI editor
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Jul 19: The newly elected management committee of the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) in its meeting Friday took a strong note of a news story published in the ‘Times of India’ newspaper.
A spokesperson of the Club said it was observed that the story is “baseless and full of insinuations against unnamed executive members of the club.”
“It appears from the story that the reporter has filed it without making any efforts to contact any executive member to seek his version. He has also not backed his story with any evidence or facts,” the spokesperson said.
While condemning the story as highly objectionable, the KPC members observed that “it seems to have been filed by the concerned reporter with malafide intent to bring in disrepute to the elected journalist members in particular and the entire club in general”.
“This is an attempt to drag the club, which successfully conducted its first ever elections this month, into unnecessary controversy,” the spokesperson added.
The management committee of the club, he said, has decided to formally take up the matter with the Editor of the newspaper in New Delhi.
“A letter of protest in this regards shall be sent to the newspaper concerned. Such baseless insinuations published in a reputed newspaper like Times of India in fact violate the basic standards and ethics of journalism,” the spokesperson added.

 

Journo associations express outrage
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Jul 19: Kashmir Working Journalist Association (KWJA) and Kashmir Journalists Association (KJA) have expressed outrage over an insinuating report published by the Times of India which uses unsubstantiated allegations to malign and endanger the journalist fraternity of Kashmir and respected institutions like the newly formed Kashmir Press Club, Kashmir Editors Guild, and the daily Kashmir Reader.
“We find it unfortunate that the Times of India has given space to such an insinuating report based on its reporter M Salim Pandit’s fantasies and bred out of his personal grouses,” a joint statement issued by KWJA and KJA said, adding, Pandit is “no stranger to controversies, slander and whimsical allegations mostly based on his personal animosities and fantasies.”
“The reporter is taking shelter in unnamed sources to defame fellow journalists and journalistic institutions in Kashmir, branding them as creations and proxies of Pakistan based agencies.”
‘The reporter has in the past often brought disgrace to the institution of journalism through his fabricated reports and actions. Ironically the author is trying to create aspersions on Kashmir Press Club even though he had been appointed the president of its first (ad hoc) managing body, with the support of Kashmir Editors Guild,” the statement added.
“His grouses lie in the fact that he was asked to step down by other members after a series of controversies and disgraceful public behaviour on his part,” it said.
“KWJA and KJA condemns the shameful actions of the reporter and the irresponsible behaviour of newspaper in giving space to a baseless report. It hopes that the newspaper will take corrective action by publishing a corrigendum and bringing down the report from its online edition. At the same time KWJA and KJA urges the Kashmir Press Club to initiate an inquiry into the irresponsible behaviour of its member M Salim Pandit,” the joint statement read.

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