Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (East) Vijay Thakur Singh on Thursday briefed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, ANI reported. Bachelet had voiced concerns on Monday about the state of human rights in the region and urged the Indian administration to respect and protect the rights of the Kashmiris.
Singh told Bachelet during their meeting in the Swiss city of Geneva that the situation in Kashmir was “fast returning to normal”. It was appreciated by the UN humans rights chief, the diplomat added. She added that Indian officials would continue to engage with Bachelet.
Asked about raising concerns about Pakistan’s alleged attempts to disrupt peace in the region, Singh said: “We briefed the United Nations high commissioner for human rights about Pakistan’s support to terrorism and their continued efforts to disturb the situation in Jammu and Kashmir through terrorism.” Three suspected militants were arrested in Kathua district on Thursday, a day after a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militant was killed in an encounter with security forces personnel. Last week, the Army had claimed Pakistan had stepped up attempts to push as many terrorists as possible into Jammu and Kashmir.
On Monday, Bachelet said her office was receiving reports about the human rights situation on both sides of the Line of Control. She also expressed deep concern about the restrictions on communication, peaceful assembly and the detention of several political leaders and activists. The human rights chief also said it was important to include Kashmiris in any decision-making processes that impacts their future. She urged India to ease the “lockdowns or curfews” and to make sure that local people were able to access basic services.
At the UN meeting on Tuesday, Singh accused the Pakistani delegation of levelling false allegations and concocting charges against India. Pakistan, which addressed the council before India, urged the global body to conduct an international investigation into the situation in Kashmir.
Following the Centre’s August 5 order to strip Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, prohibitory orders were imposed in the state and communication networks were snapped. While according to authorities the lockdown has been removed to a large extent, they remain in place in several parts of the Kashmir Valley.
Several mainstream political leaders in the state were taken into custody or put under house arrest as the clampdown began last month. Former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah, and former bureaucrat Shah Faesal are among those in detention.
Relations between India and Pakistan have been brimming with tension ever since then. The two countries have fought three wars over Kashmir since Independence. While India has repeatedly said that its decisions with regard to the region are an internal matter, Pakistan has threatened to take up the matter to several international forums. It has downgraded diplomatic ties and suspended bilateral trade.
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