Separatists, activists welcome UN report on Kashmir ‘rights violations’
Separatists and civil society members have welcomed the first-ever UN human rights report on Kashmir detailing alleged rights violations on both sides of the line of control and called for an international inquiry into the issue.
Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq shared a link of the UN report summary, which emphasised on the use of “excessive force (by security forces) that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries” on India’s side of Kashmir.
“Welcome the first-ever UN report on human rights violations in #Kashmir. Recognition of the grave HR violations by the state taking place in Kashmir for past 30 years in particular and calling for inquiry into them was long overdue. UN has a moral obligation towards the people of Kashmir (sic),” Farooq tweeted soon after the report emerged.
The 49-page documents details human rights violations and abuses on both sides of the line of control, highlighting a “situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces”.
The report focused particularly on the alleged human rights violations committed in Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 (when widespread protests erupted in the Valley after the killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani) to April 2018. It accused Indian security forces of using excessive force, leading to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries. Citing civil society sources, the document estimated that up to 145 civilians were shot dead by security personnel from July 2016 to March 2018 while 20 others were killed by armed militants in the same period.
Khuram Parvez, programme coordinator at the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, termed the report as “path-breaking”. “This report is historical & symbolically a huge step leading to an acknowledgement of the Indian government’s role in massive human rights abuses. After UN resolutions on Kashmir, this report is an important addition,” Parvez wrote on Facebook.
The report listed the “impunity with which human rights are violated” and “lack of access to justice” as the key human rights challenges faced by Jammu and Kashmir. According to it, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) gives security forces “virtual immunity” against prosecution for human rights violations, and the central government has not granted permission for “even a single” security personnel to be prosecuted in the last 28 years.
UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said he will urge the UN Human Rights Council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent investigation into allegations of human rights violations in the state.
“The people of Kashmir thank the UN, especially the bold efforts of its human rights commissioner Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussain, for its support to right of self determination and in preparing the report and making it public. Hope an enquirer commission is set up and announced soon by the UN,” Farooq further tweeted.
India has rejected the UN report, calling it “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”. The ministry of external affairs also said the report is “overtly prejudiced” and seeks to build a “false narrative”.