Reiterating that India’s decision is against the will of the people in Kashmir, Pakistan is asking for a plebiscite in Kashmir under the UN supervision.
By Rakesh Raman
While India maintains that persisting trouble in Kashmir is its internal matter, the international community has been constantly condemning PM Narendra Modi’s government for increasing human rights violations in the Kashmir valley.
The very fact that the UN Security Council (UNSC) has discussed the Kashmir issue twice in the past 5 months manifests the fact that the Modi government’s claims about Kashmir are false and the government has failed to stop Pakistan – the other stakeholder in the disputed territory – from internationalizing the worrisome Kashmir affairs.
After his meetings with the top UN and UNSC officials, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said today (January 16) that the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is an internationally recognized dispute that has been on the agenda of UNSC for 7 decades.
Although Modi government claims that Kashmir is a part of India, the excesses of Indian security forces on innocent Kashmiris cannot be a domestic issue. The international community must intervene to tame Modi government which has crossed all limits of human rights abuses in Kashmir as well as other parts of India. Hundreds and thousands of Indians have been protesting against the Modi government for the past couple of months.
“Today’s discussions have once again reaffirmed its international dispute status and the urgency to resolve it in accordance with UNSC resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people,” Qureshi said after the UNSC discussed the Kashmir situation in its meeting on Wednesday.
Occupied J&K is an internationally recognized dispute that has been on the agenda of UNSC for 7 decades. Today’s discussions have once again reaffirmed its Int’l dispute status and the urgency to resolve it in accordance with UNSC resolutions & aspirations of the Kashmiri people. https://t.co/3LswvCxXYl
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) January 16, 2020
“In my meetings with President UNSC, President UNGA, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, I emphasized the humanitarian crisis and the reign of terror unleashed on innocent Kashmiris by India since 5 August 2019,” Qureshi said.
“For the second time in 5 months, UNSC members were briefed on the situation in occupied J&K at the request of Pakistan and with support of China,” he added.
GLOBAL COMMUNITY CONDEMNS MODI GOVERNMENT
Pakistan is not alone which is condemning India for human rights abuses. Recently, a bipartisan resolution introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives has urged Modi government to ensure that any actions taken in pursuit of legitimate security priorities should respect the human rights of all – particularly in the Kashmir region.
The resolution has come in view of the anti-Muslim laws of the Modi government – including the abrogation of Article 370 pertaining to Kashmir. Introduced by Democrat lawmaker Pramila Jayapal and her Republican colleague Steve Watkins on December 6, 2019, Resolution 745 has specified a number of steps that the Indian government must take to ensure the protection of human rights.
The Modi government has unilaterally abrogated Article 370 which gave special privileges to the people of J&K. Expecting backlash from the people of Kashmir (nearly 80% of them are Muslims), in August 2019, the Modi government had imposed curfew in Kashmir where Muslims are still facing extreme human rights violations.
Along with the U.S., the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also expressed her concern over the persisting human rights violations being committed by India in Kashmir. Merkel – who was on a 3-day visit to India during November 2019 – raised the Kashmir issue and the hardships that the people of Kashmir have been facing. Merkel criticized PM Modi’s clampdown in Kashmir. She said that the situation for the people of Kashmir is not sustainable and not good.
Merkel’s comments came close on the heels of the release of a new UN report that reveals gross human rights violations by India in Kashmir. Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet, said in a press note that the UN human rights office is extremely concerned that the population of Kashmir continues to be deprived of a wide range of human rights and it urges the Indian authorities to unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied.
DICTATORIAL MODI GOVERNMENT
As the Modi government is using brute force to quell dissent in all parts of India including Kashmir, it is not allowing foreign observers including the UN officials to visit Kashmir which has become a kind of large detention center for millions of ordinary citizens.
A United States (U.S.) Senator from the Democratic Party claimed that the Indian authorities denied him permission to visit Kashmir, which has been forcefully occupied by the Indian security forces. Senator Chris Van Hollen – who was in India – said he wanted to visit Srinagar in Kashmir to assess the extent of human rights violations being committed by India, but he was not allowed to go to the troubled valley.
Earlier, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his concern over reports of restrictions on the Indian side of Kashmir, which – he said – could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region.
The global community including the UN and other leading independent organizations are increasingly condemning India for extreme human rights abuses throughout the country. A new U.S. report reveals deteriorating religious freedom conditions in India where the Modi government is engaged in politicization of religion.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Report, 2019 finds that it is increasingly difficult to separate religion and politics in India – a tactic that is sometimes intentional by those who seek to discriminate against and restrict the rights of certain religious communities.
Similar violations are being observed in the cyberspace. According to the Freedom on the Net 2019 report, internet freedom declined in India—the result of an increase in arrests for online activity, and continued Internet shutdowns during times of perceived unrest. Plagued by the spread of disinformation and its violent effects offline, according to the report released by Freedom House, the Modi government has proposed worrisome new rules that would undermine freedom online.
While Kashmir is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan, the decision of India to occupy Kashmir is being construed as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. Reiterating that India’s decision is against the will of the people in Kashmir, Pakistan is asking for a plebiscite in Kashmir under the UN supervision.
This article will also be published in the Real Voter digital magazine that focuses on politics and governance in India.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications on different subjects.
Photo: Shah Mahmood Qureshi / Twitter
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