UN report on Kashmir
India faces a big challenge in dealing with situation in Kashmir in the face of poor track record on human rights violations
Strong reaction from India to United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) 49-page report focusing on human rights violations in both parts of divided Jammu and Kashmir cannot undo the damage done to its reputation in dealing with the volatile situation during the past three decades. In fact, the three-week session of UNHRC coinciding with 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sponsored by United States of America, with special reference to both parts of Jammu and Kashmir is a bad news for India. Moreover, the UNHRC reports comes close on the heels of some important developments in the country when India chose to withdraw month-long ceasefire in Kashmir, which was not followed by any willingness to hold dialogue or engage separatists for restoration of peace and normalcy in violence-torn valley. Now that the UNHRC High Commissioner calling for establishing a Commission of Inquiry for a comprehensive independent international investigation into the allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir puts India in the dock. Despite debunking the reports calling it one-sided due to inaccuracies in its compilation and dependence on media reports, India rulers cannot escape the blame for adopting tactics that have been criticized by local commentators and analysts also. This is particularly in reference to use of excessive force and use of pellet shotguns without proper training of the security and para-military forces against the stone-pelting mobs disproportionate to the provocation since the death of Burhan Wani in July 2016.
Somehow, more damage has been done by the pellet shotguns to the stone-pelters and other civilians leading to severe body and eye injuries, as a result of which many youth and children have been blinded. Though India restored sullen calm, the recent reports about killing of militants and their apprehension indicate that most of them joined the militant ranks due to humiliating and rough treatment to them and their families by the security forces. Simultaneously, the recent goodwill generated due to Ramzan ceasefire was negated to some extent by the killings of Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari and a Indian army soldier Aurangzeb. But such incidents should not stop India from pursuing the efforts aimed at restoration of peace and normalcy in Kashmir. Withdrawal of ceasefire amounts to play in the hands of those opposed to such a peace process in the valley.
It is now a challenge for Indian diplomacy to correct its own course in dealing with the situation in Kashmir in the face of calls for independent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses. It is also a challenge to Indian policy that allows resumption of counter-insurgency operations after the withdrawal of Ramzan ceasefire instead of adopting alternate ways and means to address the core issues. The Indian policy makers will have to have a relook beyond appointment of a former intelligence officer as interlocutor on Kashmir, which is perhaps one in a series of other committees formed at the government and non-government level to hold dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir. This becomes important for the reason that from now onwards, India’s actions in Kashmir will be closely watched in Geneva during the current UNHRC session.
It is also important to note that there is no declared Indian policy or doctrine on Kashmir in view of the fact that prime minister Narendra Modi did not meet the statesman Yashwant Sinha, who had before resigning from BJP in April this year and last year led an outreach team twice holding dialogue with cross-section of the society including the separatists in Kashmir. India needs to change the optics and substance of its approach to Kashmir issue instead of simply debunking the UNHRC report. The latter also brings into focus the actions of the security forces enjoying impunity from prosecution due to Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which is considered a British legacy, for the past 28 years. Not even a single prosecution of the armed forces personnel granted by the central government also finds prominent mention in the report for which no justification has been offered. Apart from this, the strong-arm methods used for example use of human shield by an army officer, who was rewarded for his actions, do not go hand in hand in a democratic setup.
News Updated at : Friday, June 22, 2018