The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a column in Indian Express, has stated that indeed first-ever Human Rights report on Kashmir conflict was “motivated by the desire to contribute to the search for peace and justice in Kashmir.”
This column came after Ministry of External Affairs rejected the report slamming it as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”. One of BJP’s minister, Subramanian Swamy even thought of dumping it in a dustbin.
Writing for a major Indian-daily, Hussien pointed out that the debate over Kashmir conflict has been restricted to only to cross-border tension between “two nuclear-armed neighbors”, and have neglected the “serious nature of human rights concerns”.
Adding to the column, Hussein wrote that the office of High Commissioner has been trying to seek access to both sides of Kashmir since 2016 but India and Pakistan have repeatedly refused unconditional access.
Targeting Indian authorities’ flaunting of themselves as the largest democratic setup, Hussein asks, “How is it that a country that prides itself on its democratic institutions has not allowed a single trial in nearly 28 years of armed forces personnel accused of serious violations, including killings, rape, torture and enforced disappearances?”
Calling the Indian authorities’ reaction to the report as “disappointing and puzzling”, Hussein wrote that many of the facts presented in the report are from government documents and sources only.
Claiming in the column that the conclusion for UN from the report is “fairly clear”- large deficit in terms of human rights protection and accountability on both sides of the Line of Control.
The High Commissioner also stated that his office is calling on the UN Human Rights Council to consider setting up a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into all allegations of human rights violations and abuses in Kashmir.
Defending the report from the Indian Govt labeling of “ignored the pattern of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan”, Hussien wrote that the report also consists of armed groups, including LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaiesh-e-Mohammed and the human rights abuses they have committed over the years, including killings, kidnappings, and sexual violence.
Clearing the stand on the human rights situation in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir. Hussein wrote that the report also raised concerns about the restrictions on freedom of expression, persecution of religious minorities and misuse of anti-terrorism laws to muzzle dissenting voices in the territory.
Concluding the column, Hussein urged the Indian government to have the confidence to look at the human rights situation in Kashmir and understand that the violations committed there have led to the alienation of the entire population of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the young people.