The Ministry of External Affairs on Monday registered its protest against a new report by the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, which said that neither India nor Pakistan have taken any concrete steps to solve the concerns raised in its firstreport on Kashmir, released in 2018. The ministry said the new report was a continuation of the “false and motivated narrative” on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights alleged that there has been a “severe impact on the human rights of civilians, including the right to life” in Jammu and Kashmir. It also examined human rights violations in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir.

“The update of the Report of the OHCHR is merely a continuation of the earlier false and motivated narrative on the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. “Its assertions are in violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ignore the core issue of cross-border terrorism.”

The ministry said that in the update, militant leaders and organisations sanctioned by the UN were “deliberately underplayed as armed groups”.

Kumar said that despite the United Nations Security Council’s move to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist, the new report seemed to accord a legitimacy to terrorism that was not in line with UN Security Council positions.

“It is a matter of deep concern that this Update seems to accord a legitimacy to terrorism that is in complete variance with UN Security Council positions,” he said. “A situation created by years of cross-border terrorist attacks emanating from Pakistan has been ‘analysed’ without any reference to its causality. The Update seems to be a contrived effort to create an artificial parity between the world’s largest and the most vibrant democracy and a country that openly practices state-sponsored terrorism.”

He said the report distorted India’s policies and values and also undermined its own credibility in the process. Kumar called the report “unpardonable” for its failure to not recognise the independent judiciary, human rights institutions and other mechanisms that were in place in Jammu and Kashmir. “It belittles constitutional provisions, statutory procedures and established practices in an established functioning democracy,” Kumar said.

“Motivated attempts to weaken our national resolve will never succeed,” Kumar said in conclusion.

The report

The report by the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights claimed that the number of civilian casualties reported between May 2018 and April 2019 may be the highest in over a decade.

It said that the Union Ministry for Home Affairs published lower casualty figures, citing 37 civilians, 238 terrorists and 86 security forces personnel killed in the 11 months up to 2 December 2018. However, it said a report gathered by an unidentified local civil society had said that, “around 160 civilians were killed in 2018, which is believed to be the highest number in over a decade. Last year also registered the highest number of conflict-related casualties since 2008 with 586 people killed, including 267 members of armed groups and 159 security forces personnel.”

The report also claimed that despite high civilian causalities, there were no fresh investigations conducted into the use of excessive force by security personnel. “There is no information on the status of the five investigations launched into extrajudicial executions in 2016. The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir did not establish any investigations into civilian killings in 2017,” the report said.

It said no security personnel accused of torture or other inhuman treatment had ever been prosecuted in a civilian court since these allegations started emerging in the early 1990s.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, it said, continued to be key obstacle and regular use of shotguns as a means of crowd control is also employed.

On Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the report said that people are “deprived of a number of fundamental human rights, particularly in relation to freedoms of expression and opinion, peaceful assembly and association.”

The report added that the UN Human Rights Office received “credible information of enforced disappearances of people from Pakistan-Administered Kashmir including those who were held in secret detention and those whose fate and whereabouts continue to remain unknown.”

It called on the 47-Member-State UN Human Rights Council to conduct an independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.

Despite significant challenges, NGOs, human rights defenders and journalists have been able to collect information more freely in the Valley than in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.