External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday criticised the United Nations Human Rights Council for expressing concern about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the organisation’s position on Kashmir has been wrong in the past as well, PTI reported. The minister made the remark in response to a query at the Economic Times Global Business Summit held in Delhi.
Jaishankar’s statement comes days after United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed “great concern” over the Citizenship Amendment Act and the recent communal violence in North East Delhi, as well as the alleged violation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
India had scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 last year, and imposed a curfew in the state. It detained several political leaders, including three former chief ministers, and divided the state into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
When asked about Bachelet’s position on Kashmir, Jaishankar said that the director has been “wrong before”. “The UNHRC skirts around cross-border terrorism as if it has nothing to do with country next door,” he added, referring to Pakistan. “Please understand where they are coming from – look at UNHRC’s record – how they handled Kashmir issue in past.”
On being asked whether India was losing its friends, Jaishankar said, “Maybe we are getting to know who our friends really are.”
Talking about the incessant protests in the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the external affairs minister defended the government’s move to introduce the law and said: “Everybody, when they look at citizenship, have a context and a criterion. Show me a country in the world which says everybody in the world is welcome. Nobody says that.”
“We [India] have tried to reduce the number of stateless people through this legislation,” he said. “That should be appreciated. We have done it in a way that we do not create a bigger problem for ourselves.”
At least 53 people were killed and over 200 injured within a span of a week last month as supporters and opponents of the Citizenship Amendment Act clashed in North East Delhi.
Earlier in February, while addressing the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Bachelet had said: “Indians in huge numbers, and from all communities, have expressed – in a mostly peaceful manner – their opposition to the [Citizenship Amendment] Act, and support for the country’s long tradition of secularism. I am concerned by reports of police inaction in the face of attacks against Muslims by other groups, as well as previous reports of excessive use of force by police against peaceful protestors.”
The human rights official also said that in Jammu and Kashmir, though some political leaders had been released and ordinary life had returned to normal in some ways, 800 people still remained under detention. “Schools, businesses and livelihoods have been disrupted by the continued heavy military presence, and no steps have been taken to address allegations of excessive use of force and other serious human rights violations by security forces,” Bachelet alleged.
Bachelet said that while internet and mobile services had been partly restored following an order from the Supreme Court, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir continued to impose excessive restrictions on the use of social media.