Kashmir after Article 370: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights asks India to ease restrictions in Valley, ensure access to basic services

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said she is deeply concerned about the Union government's recent actions in Jammu and Kashmir.

  • Jeria made these remarks in her opening statements at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council.

  • Jeria, in her statement on Monday, also spoke about the release of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet Jeria on Monday said she is deeply concerned about the impact of the Indian government's recent actions in Jammu and Kashmir, and urged the Narendra Modi government to ease the lockdown. Jeria made these remarks in her opening statements at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council.

 Kashmir after Article 370: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights asks India to ease restrictions in Valley, ensure access to basic services

File image of Michelle Bachelet Jeria UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Reuters

On Kashmir, Jeria said, "I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris, including restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists. While I continue to urge the governments of India and Pakistan to ensure that human rights are respected and protected, I have appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews; to ensure people's access to basic services; and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained. It is important that the people of Kashmir are consulted and engaged in any decision-making processes that have an impact on their future."

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' remarks come almost four weeks after the Indian government led by the BJP made sweeping changes to the legal status of Jammu and Kashmir, invalidating Article 370 of the Constitution, and dividing the state into two Union Territories. The moves have sparked angry reactions across the border in Pakistan, with the country sending two letters to the UNHCR raising concerns on the issue.

In June last year, the UNHCR released its first-ever report on alleged human rights violations in both Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, and demanded an international inquiry on the issue. The report alleged serious violations in Jammu and Kashmir between July 2016 and April 2018, claiming that security forces had killed some 145 civilians and armed groups had killed up to 20 civilians, without mentioning terrorists, including Pakistan-sponsored ones. The Ministry of External Affairs had strongly criticised the report, saying it legitimises terror activities in Kashmir. The ministry also criticised the body for referring to terror organisations as "armed groups" and terrorists as "leaders".

'NRC process has caused uncertainty, anxiety'

Jeria, in her statement on Monday, also spoke about the release of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. She said, "The recent National Register of Citizens verification process in the northeast Indian state of Assam has caused great uncertainty and anxiety, with some 1.9 million people excluded from the final list published on 31 August. I appeal to the Government to ensure due process during the appeals process, prevent deportation or detention, and ensure people are protected from statelessness."

The United Nations has expressed concerns about the NRC earlier as well. On 2 September, Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees urged India to ensure no one ends up stateless, "including by ensuring adequate access to information, legal aid, and legal recourse in accordance with the highest standards of due process." He also said that "any process that could leave large numbers of people without a nationality would be an enormous blow to global efforts to eradicate statelessness."

Updated Date: Sep 09, 2019 17:46:21 IST