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UN report on Kashmir

editorial 3

United Nations has accused Indian forces of using excessive forces in Kashmir, killing and wounding numerous civilians. The UN also called for international; inquiry into alleged human rights violations by Indian forces in the troubles region. This is for the first time since the eruption of militancy that the United Nations officially admitted human rights violations by India in Kashmir. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called for maximum restraint and denounced the lack of prosecutions of Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir due to a 1990 law giving them what he called “virtual immunity”. In a statement, Zeid called for the Human Rights Council to launch a commission of inquiry into all violations. Alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region should be investigated. The 49-page report, while focusing on the latest phase of the violence in the valley from 2016 to 2018, recalls developments since the origins of the dispute between Pakistan and India. Most significantly it calls upon India to “fully respect the right of self-determinations of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law”. It also recommends an “urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and to deliver justice for all people in Kashmir who have been suffering seven decades of conflict”. The report has been endorsed by none other the secretary general of the international body himself. António Guterres also appeared to support UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s call for an independent international investigation of the massive rights violations. India has outright rejected the report calling it “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”. We question the intent in bringing out such a report. It is a selective compilation of largely unverified information. It is overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative”, the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement after the report was released last week. India is also cool to Guterres’s remarks urging India and Pakistan to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute. But the report in itself is severe indictment of India’s conduct in Kashmir. It is also huge demonstration of the fact that the international opinion on India with regard to Kashmir is changing. For media use, it is the only right thing government of India can do is to reject the report. But on ground it invites a serious attention of the powers that be. It goes without saying that Kashmir presently depicts a horrific picture with civilian killings being committed more-often-than-not. Just a week before security forces raided a government high school in Hawoora village in Kulgam which resulted in killing of a 9th class girl student besides two other civilians. As many as 49 civilians are reported to have died and more than 200 injured in security forces actions across the valley since January this year. After Governor’s rule was imposed in the state since the unceremonious exit of Mahbooba Mufti, direct threats are hurled on the people of Kashmir through TV studios. In one of the debates on India’s most rabid news channels where retired army generals mostly express their opinions was said “aik aik ko mariege, chun chun kar marienge”. They projected Governor’s rule as that of martial law which is a serious reflection on the Governor itself. Governor N N Vohra is a seasoned and experienced man with right knowledge of Kashmir situation. He will not ignore what is going around in his rule. He should take up the matter with his bosses in Delhi and make them agree to change their hardened approach towards hapless people of Kashmir. New Delhi must understand the fact that India’s image as a tolerant and civilized country is fast dwindling. It cannot be rebuilt just by abusing or accusing Pakistan or any other country. Nor can be it built by US or Russian support. The image of a country is determined by the actions of the state and its people. For a country that is indicted by some credible international agency, something wrong must definitely be happening. Let government of India pause and look inwards to make corrections wherever needed.