The United Nations’ human rights agency on Wednesday said India’s decision to take away Jammu and Kashmir’s special status would lead to deterioration in the alleged human rights problem in the region.

“What we are now witnessing in Indian-administered Kashmir takes what was already a bit of pattern to a whole new level,” said a spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He referred to a UN report from last month on the human rights situation that documented how authorities in the region “have repeatedly blocked telecommunications networks to muzzle dissent, used arbitrary detention to punish political dissidents and employed excessive force while dealing with protests, leading to extrajudicial killings and serious injuries”.

The spokesperson said the rights body was deeply concerned that the latest restrictions in Kashmir would “exacerbate the human rights situation in the region”. “The fact that hardly any information at all is currently coming out is of great concern in itself,” he added.

Last month, the UN agency had said neither India nor Pakistan had taken any concrete steps to solve the concerns raised in its first report on Kashmir released in 2018. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights alleged that there had 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-occupied Kashmir. The Ministry of External Affairs said the follow-up report was a continuation of the “false and motivated narrative” on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The United Nations chief spokesperson on Wednesday urged India and Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint, PTI reported. The statement came hours after Pakistan downgraded relations with India by expelling the Indian envoy in Islamabad and suspending bilateral ties.

Stephane Dujarric denied Secretary General Antonio Guterres was reluctant to get involved in the matter. “We are very well aware and following the situation with a lot of concern,” he added. “Contacts are being had at various levels, and we urge all of the parties involved to exercise maximum restraint.”

Dujarric confirmed that the world body had received a letter from Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the matter.

Meanwhile, the United States on Wednesday said it had neither been consulted nor informed by India of its moves to change Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status. It said there was “an urgent need for dialogue among all actors to reduce tensions and to avoid the potential for military escalation”, Hindustan Times reported.

“The US is closely following India’s legislation regarding the new territorial status and governance of Jammu and Kashmir,” an unidentified State Department spokesperson told PTI. “We note the broader implications of these developments, including the potential for increased instability in the region.” The State Department said it continued to support “direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern”, Reuters reported.