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UN Secy Gen supports HR Chief’s call for probe in Kashmir

Press Trust of India

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has voiced support for the UN human rights chief’s call for an independent international investigation into the human rights situation in Kashmir, saying his action “represents the voice of the UN” on the issue.

“As you can imagine, all the action of the Human Rights High Commissioner is an action that represents the voice of the UN in relation to that issue,” Guterres told reporters at a press conference yesterday.

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He was responding to questions whether he supports an independent international probe into the human rights situation in Kashmir as recommended by High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in his report on Kashmir last month.

India has rejected Al Hussein’s report in which he had called for a commission of inquiry by the Human Rights Council to conduct an independent international investigation into the human rights situation in Kashmir.

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Tanmaya Lal said this week that the “so-called” report reflects the “clear bias of an official who was acting without any mandate whatsoever and relied on unverified sources of information.”

Lal had said the report “was not even found fit to be considered by the membership of the forum where it was submitted.”

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, responding to the Secretary General’s remarks, said the Human Rights chief’s report was not followed up by anyone in the Human Rights Council.

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“That the High Commissioner for Human Rights represents the UN Secretariat on the issue of human rights is a factual issue. But that his report was not followed up by anyone is also a reality that no one sees it as something they are ready to support. So referring to the report is like flogging a dead horse,” Akbaruddin told PTI.

Guterres was asked by PTI about India’s assertion that Al Hussein was acting without any mandate and that Kashmir is a bilateral issue that needs to be resolved between India and Pakistan.

He said, “one thing is the definition of the mechanism for a political solution of a situation in a country. The other thing is the general mandate of human rights instruments in relation to human rights everywhere.”

“And so what the Human Rights High Commissioner did was the use of its own competencies and capacities, as it does in all other parts of the world, to report on what he considered to be relevant human rights violations.

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“It doesn’t mean that there is in that a preference for any kind of methodology for a political solution. They are two completely different things, and the same applies in relation to the other report,” he said, referring to his report on children and armed conflict.

India has also expressed its disappointment that the Secretary General’s report on children and armed conflict included situations that do not meet the definition of armed conflict or of threat to international peace and security.

The report had mentioned the Indian states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, saying children continued to be affected by incidents of violence between armed groups and the government, particularly in the three states.

Noting “grave violations”, the report had said three incidents of the recruitment and use of children were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in the context of clashes with national security forces.

“One case was attributed to Jaish-e-Mohammed and two to Hizbul Mujahideen,” the report said, adding that “unverified” reports also indicate the use of children as informants and spies by national security forces.

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The report added that the United Nations also continued to receive reports of the recruitment and use of children, including by the Naxalites, particularly in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

“The other report is a report about situations in which the rights of children have been put into question,” Guterres said.

When asked if he has made any attempt to bring about dialogue between India and Pakistan, Guterres said, “It is clear for me that only political solutions can address political problems.”

He added that whenever he meets the leaders of both India and Pakistan, he always offers his good offices, and “I hope that the future will be able to create the mechanisms of dialogue that will allow for this problem to find also an adequate political solution that the people can benefit from.”

Participating in a Security Council debate on Children and Armed Conflict this week, Lal had said that the UNSC Resolution 1379 requests the Secretary General to report on situations that are on the agenda of the Security Council or that may be brought to the attention of the Security Council by the Secretary General, which in his opinion threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.

“In spite of the clear mandate provided under the UNSC Resolution 1379, we are disappointed that the Report of the Secretary General includes situations, which do not meet the definition of armed conflict or of threat to maintenance of international peace and security,” Lal had said.


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ED imposes Rs 14.4 lakh penalty on Geelani

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Srinagar, Mar 22: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Friday imposed Rs 14.4 lakh penalty, on Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani for “illegally” possessing foreign exchange of around $10,000, news agency PTI reported.
After completion of the probe and adjudication proceeding, the ED an order on Wednesday under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), levying the penalty and confiscating forex of $10,000 that was allegedly recovered from Geelani, they said.
The ED will also impose a penalty on Yasin Malik, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and confiscate foreign exchange recovered from him. The adjudication proceedings against Malik are in progress.
On Wednesday, a Delhi court also allowed ED to quiz Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah and others in connection with an alleged funding case.

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PDP, NC, PC candidates file nominations for north LS seat

I promise blah, blah, blah…

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Mar 22: Members of the three main political parties and an independent candidate Friday submitted their nomination papers for the Lok Sabha seat in north Kashmir, all promising to raise Kashmir issue in the Parliament.
As per the Election Commission of India notification, the last date for filing the nominations for Baramulla Parliamentary seat has been fixed on March 25. The polling will be held on April 11.
On the first day of filing nominations, four candidates submitted theirs on Friday at district development commissioner’s office in Baramulla.
Former trade union leader, Abdul Qayoom Wani submitted the nomination papers to be the Peoples Democratic Party candidate.
Talking to the media after filing the nomination papers, Wani said that PDP was for the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
“We want India, Pakistan, and Kashmiris shall sit together and find a solution to the problem so that the bloodshed is stopped,” Wani said, who joined the PDP in first week of February after voluntarily resigning from government services.
“I will raise the Kashmir issue in the Parliament. Draconian laws have to be abolished. There has to be equitable development of all three regions of the state,” Wani said, adding that he joined the PDP because of its “pro-people policies”.
Wani was accompanied by senior PDP leaders Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Javaid Beigh.
Former minister of the Omar Abdullah-led government, Mohammad Akbar Lone submitted the nomination papers as the National Conference candidate.
“India and Pakistan has to resolve the Kashmir issue to bring peace here. Since 1947, they fought several wars and Kashmir problem is the main reason. There can be no peace in India and Pakistan till Kashmir issue is not solved,” Lone told reporters, claiming he would raise the Kashmir issue in the Parliament.
He said he was “sure” of his win.
“The support of the political parties will be cleared once the election will be over. We hope the NC will emerge victorious in the elections,” he said.
Raja Aijaz Ali of Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference party also filed his nomination papers for the Baramulla-Kupwara Parliamentary seat.
The PC member said that his “aim was to develop the state”.
“My main agenda behind contesting for the Lok Sabha elections is to develop the state. We want the voices of the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be heard in the Parliament. I urge people to give us one chance and cast their ballot in favour of me,” he said.
Sajad said if voted to power they will make efforts to develop the region.
“If voted to power, we will raise the issues pertaining to this region in the Parliament. People are very angry with the traditional political parties here. I am sure that we will win these elections. If we win, this will be for the first time when there will be a Kashmiri ambassador in New Delhi,” he said.
He said there would be no improvement in the situation by the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami.
Sajad also clarified that his political quarter will fight independently in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
One independent candidate Suhail Amir also submitted his nomination papers.

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Farooq leads NC-Cong campaign in Jmu

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Jammu, Mar 22: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Friday led the campaigning of joint Congress-NC candidates and said the alliance was aimed to keep India secular and “save” it from divisive politics.
Vikramaditya Singh, grandson of erstwhile Sadr-e-Riyast senior Congress leader Karan Singh, and former minister Raman Bhalla, who is a joint candidate of the Congress and its alliance partner NC, from Udhampur and Jammu Lok Sabha seats respectively.
“We have given this sacrifice for one aim – to keep India a secular country and also keep India strong. There is no other goal (in entering into an alliance with the Congress),” Abdullah told reporters here while kickstarting campaigning of the joint candidates.
“To bring country out of this quagmire, we have come together. We ensure you (Congress) our full support,” he said.
Abdullah said the NC has come out to save this country from divisive politics.
“We have come out to save this country from forces (who are dividing the country on the basis of religion) and not to save this state only,” he said.
Farooq said we have to live in this country and strengthen it and its secular ethos which was preached by Mahatma Gandhi.
He asked the Congress candidates to keep an eye on forces about malpractice.
Vikramaditya, while speaking on the occasion, said they will fight at the grass-roots level together to ensure their victory.

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