UN Panel Expresses Concern over Kashmir Situation, Urges India to 'Fully Restore' Rights of Citizens
The statement said restrictions in place in the Kashmir Valley prevent the free movement of people, "hampering their ability to exercise their right to peaceful assembly, and restricting their rights to health, education and freedom of religion and belief".
In this August 6, 2019 file photo, a deserted street is seen through a barbwire set up as blockade during curfew in Srinagar. (AP)
New Delhi: The United Nations Human Rights Office on Tuesday expressed concern over the present situation in Jammu and Kashmir and urged the Indian authorities to "fully restore the rights that are currently being denied".
In an official statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the “undeclared curfew” imposed by authorities, following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, was lifted from much of Jammu and Ladakh within a few days but is still in place in large parts of the Kashmir Valley.
The statement added that these restrictions prevent the free movement of people, “hampering their ability to exercise their right to peaceful assembly, and restricting their rights to health, education and freedom of religion and belief”.
“There have been several allegations of excessive use of force including the use of pellet-firing shotguns, tear gas and rubber bullets by security forces during sporadic protests, with unconfirmed reports of at least six civilian killings and scores of serious injuries in separate incidents since 5 August,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The comments came on a day when 30 lawmakers of the European Union are on an "unofficial" visit to Kashmir.
The UNHRC also said that hundreds of political and civil society leaders, including three former chief ministers, have been detained on a preventive basis. “While some political workers have reportedly been released, most senior leaders – especially those from the Kashmir Valley – remain in detention,” Colville said.
Talking about the communication blockade in the Valley, Colville said, “While restrictions on landline telephones were eventually lifted, and a state-run telecom company allowed to resume partial mobile services, all internet services remain blocked in the Kashmir Valley”.
The statement added that media outlets continue to face restrictions and four journalists have been arrested in the past three months.
The UNHRC also mentioned that the Supreme Court has been slow to deal with petitions concerning freedom of movement and media restrictions in the Valley.
“The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, the State Information Commission (which implements the right-to-information laws) and the State Commission for Protection of Women and Child Rights are among key institutions being wound up, with the new bodies to replace them yet to be established,” he said.
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