India on Wednesday criticised Pakistan for raising Jammu and Kashmir in the United Nations Human Rights Council session, and reiterated that the region “was, is, and shall forever” remain its integral part. The remarks from Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup came a day after Pakistan urged the international council to intervene in the Indian administration’s decision to impose restrictions on communication in Jammu and Kashmir since the region’s special status was stripped in August.
“It is more than a little ironical that a nation that has become the world’s leading exporter of terror and violence seeks to lecture others about human rights,” Swarup, the secretary (west) in the Ministry of External Affairs said, referring to Pakistan. “Despite Pakistan’s best efforts – over decades – to destabilise this state through externally instigated terror and a campaign of canards and untruth, the situation on the ground is quite normal.”
Swarup was speaking at the ongoing 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council being held in Switzerland between February 24 and March 20. The Indian government official highlighted instances to prove that people’s rights in Jammu and Kashmir were being upheld, and that restrictions imposed “solely to ensure the safety of the people from Pakistani trained terrorist attacks” were removed.
Jammu and Kashmir has been in partial lockdown since August 5, when the Centre revoked the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and split it into two Union Territories. Several major political leaders remain under house arrest with stringent charges against them. There has been a gradual ease on communication restrictions, however, high-speed 3G and 4G continue to be banned till March 4. The region has been provided access to only 1,674 websites so far.
During his address on Wednesday, Swarup called for a “decisive action” against those who facilitate terrorist activities. “The transformative changes wrought by our Parliament last August were meant to strengthen the integration of the state, including to give the fullest play to representative government from the grassroots level upward.”
On Tuesday, Pakistan Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari had alleged that India continued to violate the human rights of the Kashmiri people. She alleged that “over six thousand Kashmiri people, activists... were arrested without due process of law” and demanded their immediate release. The Pakistani minister had added that any “inaction” by the international community and the council will only “embolden” India to act with impunity.
On February 7, the Jammu and Kashmir administration booked several Kashmiri politicians under the Public Safety Act. The Act allows the accused to be detained without trial for three months, a period which can be extended. Former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference leader Hilal Lone, Peoples Democratic Party leader Naeem Akhtar have all been detained under the Act.