Srinagar: Expressing concern over the “violence against civilians” in Kashmir, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet in her global update on Monday said that “incidents of military and police violence against civilians continue, including use of pellet guns, as well as incidents related to militancy in Kashmir.”
Stating that said it has been more than a year since she briefed about the situation on both Indian and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Bachelet said that major legal changes including to the Constitution and domicile rules are generating deep “anxiety” in the valley.
Besides this, the space for political debate and public participation continues to be severely restricted, particularly since new media rules have prohibited vaguely defined ‘anti-national’ reporting, she said.
Welcoming the release of some political and community leaders, she said that hundreds of people remain in “arbitrary detention, with many habeas corpus petitions still pending – including those of many of Jammu and Kashmir’s political leaders.”
In her address, she also welcomed the initiatives to extend services to remote areas, and the recent conditional restoration of full Internet connectivity in two districts – which should be applied promptly to the rest of Jammu and Kashmir.
“On the Pakistan side, people also have limited Internet access, creating difficulties in accessing education and other vital services. I remain concerned about ongoing restrictions to the rights to freedom of expression and association,” the High Commissioner added.
Bachelet added that her office is committed to continuing its engagement with both India and Pakistan, to uphold the rights of the Kashmiri people – which is the best way to prevent further tensions and conflict.
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