Monday, 30th October 2017

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US notes UN body’s Kashmir report

State department mentions curbs on freedom of speech

  • Published 20.03.19, 2:19 AM
  • Updated 20.03.19, 2:19 AM
  • 2 mins read
Amit Shah at BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Tuesday. Prem Singh

The US state department has taken note of the report of The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Kashmir that India had rejected as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”.

The OHCHR has been mentioned in the India chapter of the annual global report on human rights that the state department brought out last week.

India had officially registered its protest over the observations the UN body had made and had conveyed that to the OHCHR on June 14, 2018 — the day its report was made public.

The OHCHR in its report had called for an international enquiry into “multiple violations” in Kashmir and advocated the right of self-determination for Kashmiris.

New Delhi had described the report as a violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, adding that it was not only a selective compilation of largely unverified information but also overtly prejudiced and one aimed at building a false narrative.

The human rights report released by the state department records that the OHCHR published the Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir, “documenting alleged violations committed by security forces from June 2016 to April 2018”.

It further states that the report estimated 130 to 145 civilian deaths by security forces and between 16 and 20 killings by armed groups.

It also takes note of the UN body’s call for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in all states and territories and an international probe into the human rights situation in the “Indian state”.

The state department report — compiled by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor based on inputs from US diplomatic missions worldwide — mentions Kashmiri separatists and Maoist violence too.

The controversy over the National Register of Citizens has been dwelt upon as well. The report, in this connection, includes BJP president Amit Shah’s reference to Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”.

The arrest of Dalit activist and Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad has been recorded and so has the move to charge him under the National Security Act.

Also detailed is the arrest of human rights activists and academics, including Gautam Navlakha and Sudha Bharadwaj, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act; the continued displacement of Kashmiri Pandits, the use of the sedition law to curb free expression, withholding of public-sector advertising from outlets critical of the government, and attacks on media personnel.

There is a reference to the Rohingya situation and the report articulates the view of human rights activists that India had disregarded its long tradition of protecting refugees in this case.

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