Human rights in Kashmir

‘Deeply disappointed’, says OHCHR on Indian government’s reaction to report on Kashmir

The UN body said the Indian authorities dismissed the report ‘without examining it and responding to the very serious concerns about human rights in Kashmir’.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday said it was “deeply disappointed” at the reaction of Indian authorities to its first-ever human rights report on Kashmir last month. The report had accused security forces on both sides of the Line of Control of human rights violations and abuses.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the report violated India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also described the report as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”. Later, India said the report showed a “clear bias” and was not fit to be considered by members of the Office of the United Nations Human Rights Council, where it has been submitted.

“The report was developed through remote monitoring, after the Indian and Pakistani authorities failed to grant us unconditional access to the region,” OHCHR said. The human rights body said that Indian authorities had dismissed the report “without examining it and responding to the very serious concerns about the human rights situation in Indian-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir as laid out in the report”.

The OHCHR also criticised the Indian media for believing a Canada-based imam of Pakistani descent, who claimed that Hussein had been in contact with him while the report was being prepared, “with the inference being that Zafar Bangash influenced the content of the report”.

“This is totally untrue. The High Commissioner has never spoken with Bangash, and we are not aware of receiving any information from him, let alone using it, although it is possible he sent an email or letter and received a polite acknowledgment, as is the case with thousands of letters and emails sent to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” the OHCHR said.

The body also said the June 14 report contained 388 footnotes of all the sources that had been used – the Parliament, the Supreme Court of India, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly – among others. The OHCHR added that a photograph showing Hussein with three individuals from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is uncontroversial because “individuals often ask to be photographed with the high commissioner, and he often politely obliges”.

“We are disturbed by the sustained attempts to distract and divert the focus away from the human rights violations on both sides of the Line of Control,” the human rights body said. “The UN Human Rights Office has a global mandate and works independently, with a well-established methodology, in its public reporting. This is not about politics. It is about the human rights of millions of people in Kashmir.”

Corrections and clarifications: The headline and the story has been edited to reflect that the report was prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and not the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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