The United Nations Human Rights Council said it was ‘deeply disappointed’ at India’s reaction on the council’s report on Kashmir and criticized the media for clubbing a Canada-based imam of Pakistani descent’s claim that Hussein had been in contact with him while the report was being prepared with the organization of the report itself.
“This is totally untrue. The High Commissioner has never spoken with Zafar Bangash, and we are not aware of receiving any information from him, let alone using it, although it is possible he sent an email or letter and received a polite acknowledgment, as is the case with thousands of letters and emails sent to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” the UNHRC said.
The council added that the report contained 388 footnotes of all the sources that had been used – the Parliament, the Supreme Court of India, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly – among others. The photograph that showed the High Commissioner with three individuals from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was ruled as uncontroversial because “individuals often ask to be photographed with the high commissioner, and he often politely obliges”.
“We are disturbed by the sustained attempts to distract and divert the focus away from the human rights violations on both sides of the Line of Control,” it said. “The UN Human Rights Office has a global mandate and works independently, with a well-established methodology, in its public reporting. This is not about politics. It is about the human rights of millions of people in Kashmir.”
Earlier, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General had backed the Human Rights High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s call for an international investigation into the violation of human rights in Kashmir.
“As you can imagine all the action of the Human Rights High Commissioner is an action that represents the voice of the UN in relation to that issue,” he stated at the conference.
In a response to an inquiry that pointed out the contradiction of the reports towards India’s stand on Kashmir being its integral part, Antonio said that there was a ‘distinction between political matters and human rights’.
“What the Human Rights Commissioner did was the use of its own competencies and capacities as it does in all other parts of the world to report on what he considers to be relevant human rights violations,” he said, adding that the report is a report about situations in which the rights of children have been put into question.
This development arrives after the UN published a 49-page report citing human rights violations by armed forces in Kashmir. India responded by calling the report ‘fallacious, tendentious and motivated’.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said the report was “overtly prejudiced” and sought to build a “false narrative”.
New Delhi had also lodged a strong protest on the use of terminology in the report, saying that the body had departed from internationally accepted terminology.