UN HR violations report
June 20, 2018
On June 14, the United Nations Human Rights Office published a report on human rights violations and abuses in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The 49-page maiden report on human rights situation in the state released by High Commissioner Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein has exposed the failure of the Government of India to curb HR violations and abuses in J&K. Instead of acknowledging the report and make way for corrective measures, the government’s outright rejection and branding it as ‘fallacious’ has added insult to the injury. South Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, Meenakshi Ganguly, on GoI’s rejection made an apt remark – “The Indian government’s dismissal of the serious concerns raised in the UN’s Kashmir report is unjustified and counterproductive”.
The report clearly describes the role of armed forces in the excesses committed in Kashmir. The most interesting part in the UN report is that it mentions the rights violations in the last seven decades or 70 years, which vindicates the UN stand on Kashmir and draws attention to the resolutions passed by the premier world body in the past. The UN High Commissioner called on armed forces to “exercise maximum restraint, and strictly abide by international standards governing the use of force when dealing with future protests, including ones that could well occur this coming weekend.” A number of Indian media reports backed the government position, which is very unfortunate as it depicts the loss of credibility and objectivity while reporting on Kashmir conflict. It doesn’t change the fact that the world premier body on human rights violations has berated the government and armed forces for excesses committed in Jammu and Kashmir state.
It is not for the first time that armed forces and New Delhi’s policy vis-à-vis Kashmir have been held responsible for the deteriorated situation in Kashmir. Since 2016 and after the killing of Hizb militant Burhan Wani, the reign of horror unleashed by the indiscriminate firing of pellets and bullets on unarmed protestors have been highlighted before also. It forced the union home minister Rajnath Singh to visit the state and assure the state government and the people of Kashmir that alternative would be sought. The government failed not only in finding an alternative but continued with its muscular policy. A protestor was mowed down by a force’s vehicle, a civilian was tied to a patrolling jeep, hundreds of youth lost their eyesight due to the pellet fury, the armed forces issued the open threat to protestors that if they would be found near encounter sites they would receive the same treatment as militants. All this has been brushed under the carpet.
Sadly, the state human rights commission also failed to apply the pressure for a possible policy change. On UN report, we are yet to hear from the state institution. Now, the coalition partner BJP having ditched PDP at the most difficult time, it is apparent that the overtures of New Delhi have been sans peace.