"Deeply concerned," says UN Rights Chief on Kashmir, raises Assam too
New Delhi, Sep 9
India received a sharp nudge from chief of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday as severe restrictions imposed on Kashmir entered their sixth week.
"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," the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in her opening statement at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council.
"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," she added.
Last month, the Indian government scrapped special privileges of Jammu and Kashmir like the ability to frame its own laws and divided the state into two union territories.
To prevent a violent backlash, the centre sent in thousands of additional troops and imposed curfew-like restrictions. Phone and internet lines were blocked and top political leaders, including former Chief Ministers, were detained.
The clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir has disrupted daily life.
The restrictions - some of which have since been lifted - left local residents frustrated and disrupted essential services.
Several nations, including the US, have expressed concern over curbs.
Saying that Jammu and Kashmir was an internal subject, India has strongly criticised efforts by Pakistan to raise it at international forums.
Ms Bachelet said her office continues to receive reports on the human rights situation on both sides of the Line of Control. It was important that the people of Kashmir are consulted and engaged in any decision-making processes that have an impact on their future, she added.
The top UN human rights official also said the National Register of Citizens or NRC in Assam, intended to weed out illegal immigrants, has caused great uncertainty and anxiety, with some 19 lakh people excluded from the final list published on August 31.
She appealed to the Indian government to ensure due process during the appeals process, prevent deportation or detention, and ensure people are protected from statelessness.
India has said the NRC is a statutory, transparent, legal process mandated by the Supreme Court of India.
"For those who are not in the final list will not be detained and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they have exhausted all the remedies available under the law. It does not make the excluded person 'Stateless'," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement last week.
"It also does not make him or her a 'foreigner', within the legal meaning of the term. They will not be deprived of any rights or entitlements which they have enjoyed before," the statement said. NDTV