Srinagar: Exactly a year after the Government of India (GoI), revoked the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, United Nations (UN) human rights experts have called on India and the international community to take urgent action to address the “alarming” human rights situation in the erstwhile state.
“Urgent action is needed,” the United Nations experts from Human Rights said in a statement.
“If India will not take any genuine and immediate steps to resolve the situation, meet their obligations to investigate historic and recent cases of human rights violations and prevent future violations, then the international community should step up,” the spokesman of the organization said in a statement.
The experts believe that ever since GoI stripped JK of its special status, revoked its statehood and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories on August 5 2019, “the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been in free fall.”
“We are particularly concerned that during the COVID pandemic, many protestors are still in detention and Internet restrictions remain in place,” UN experts have said.
According to the report, it has been almost a year since several UN experts wrote to the Government and publicly called on India to end the “crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests” which followed the August 5, 2019 announcement.
Experts have also raised concerns with the Indian government about alleged “arbitrary detention and torture and ill-treatment” to which the Government recently replied, as well as the “criminalization” of journalists covering the situation and the detention and deteriorating health of a high profile human rights lawyer.
However, there has been no response given to the organization yet. “We have yet to receive any reply to three of the four letters,” the UN experts said.
The report mentioned that October 2019 closure of the JK State Human Rights Commission, which had been one of the few ways victims of human rights violations could seek “remedy”, is particularly concerning.
Furthermore, no information was provided to the public about what would happen to the ongoing cases the body had been investigating, including hundreds of suspected enforced disappearances dating from as far back as 1989. Allegations regarding thousands of “unmarked and some mass graves” sites have also not yet been properly investigated.
“Decades on, families are still waiting in anguish and now there is a stream of new alleged rights violations,” the experts said. “With no State Human Rights Commission and Internet restrictions, the avenues for reporting are further reduced.”
In 2011, India extended an open invitation to Special Rapporteurs to visit, but has several requests pending. “We call on India to schedule pending visits as a matter of urgency, particularly of the experts dealing with torture and disappearances,” the experts mentioned in the statement.
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