UN rights chief asks India, Pakistan to respect and protect human rights of Kashmiris

Published: Sep 09, 2019, 16:17 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

Michelle Bachelet also appealed to the central government to ensure people excluded from the NRC list in Assam are protected from being stateless

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet takes part in the opening session of a United Nations Human right council. Pic/AFP
UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet takes part in the opening session of a United Nations Human right council. Pic/AFP

UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet asked India and Pakistan on Monday to ensure that the human rights of the Kashmiri people are respected and protected, amid tensions between the two countries after New Delhi revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from the latter.

Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in the meeting that her office continues to receive reports on the human rights situation on both sides of the Line of Control.

Also Read: Article 370: Former diplomat suggest stressing on special discrimination to counter Pakistan at UNHRC

"I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris, including restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists," she said in her opening statement at the 42st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

"While I continue to urge the Governments of India and Pakistan to ensure that human rights are respected and protected, I have appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews; to ensure people's access to basic services; and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained," she said.

Bachelet affirmed that it was important that the people of Kashmir to be consulted and engaged in any decision-making processes that have an impact on their future.

Asserting that abrogation of the law was India’s internal matter, the country has strongly criticised Pakistan for making "irresponsible statements" and provocative rhetoric against the country over issues internal to it. Bachelet also said about the recent National Register of Citizens verification process in Assam that caused great uncertainty and anxiety, and excluding some 1.9 million people from the final list published later last month.

Also Read: India, Pakistan to fight it out on Jammu and Kashmir at UN Human Rights Council

She appealed to the central government to ensure due process during the appeals process, prevent deportation or detention, and ensure people are protected from being stateless.

India justified updating of the NRC as a statutory, transparent, legal process mandated by the Supreme Court of India. It maintained that the exclusion from the NRC list does not have any implication on the rights of a resident in Assam. "For those who are not in the final list will not be detained and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they have exhausted all the remedies available under the law. It does not make the excluded person "Stateless'," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement last week.

"It also does not make him or her 'a Foreigner', within the legal meaning of the term. They will not be deprived of any rights or entitlements which they have enjoyed before," the statement further read.

With inputs from PTI

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