Kashmir’s Human Rights Issues Be Settled By India: EU

Srinagar: The issues of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir should be settled by Indian institutions, the European Union (EU) said on Wednesday, remarks that come against the backdrop of Pakistan’s repeated attempts to internationalise it.

It, however, chided India for blocking foreign funding to several NGOs.

Chairperson of European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, David McAllister, said that the panel is working on a report on EU’s political ties with India with focus on human rights issues and it will be finalised ahead of the EU-India summit around September this year.

McAllister, leading a delegation of the European Parliament here, called the “conflict” in Jammu and Kashmir a “very sensitive” issue, and added India has “suffered a lot because of terrorism”.

Talking about EU’s philosophy of diplomatic engagements, he said the issue of human rights was embedded in its foreign policy.

“The reports of human rights violations (in J&K) have to be settled by India’s domestic institutions,” the chair of the powerful committee said.

The comment assumes significance as Pakistan has been consistently flagging the issue on international fora and seeking UNs intervention while accusing the Indian establishment of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The EU, on some occasions, had appeared siding with Pakistan.

Referring to the Indian government refusing to renew the foreign funding licences of around 20,000 NGOs, another prominent member of the Committee Preda Cristian Dan said crackdown on NGOs dealing with human rights issues was unacceptable.

He said some EU member countries also donated money to NGOs for promoting human rights and wondered why authorities in some countries restricted their activities.

“We do not understand why government wants to block activities of organisations dealing with human rights. This is unacceptable,” Dan said.

He said the problems of NGOs working for the rights of children and women in India will be flagged by the delegation during its meeting with Women and Child Development Minister.

‘Kashmiris’ A New Category For UK Census

 Kashmiris, along with Sikhs, are among new categories being considered for additional ethnicity tick-boxes on the 2021 census form by the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS).

“We are a long way off as there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to ensure that the census held every 10 years collects all the right information. Ethnicity is just one aspect of this research and Sikhs and Kashmiris are among a number of requests we received,” an ONS spokesperson said.

For Kashmiris, Manchester City Council expressed the view that adding such a category would help them benchmark their services for the community.

“Including Kashmiri in the Census will allow us to benchmark our practice and the outcomes of Manchester’s Kashmiri population with the rest of the UK,” the council said.

Sikhs are already recognised as a separate religion in the optional religious question introduced in the 2001 Census.

The UK’s Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 placed an obligatory and specific duty on the country’s public authorities to monitor and positively promote race equality in the provision of public services.

Sikh groups based in the UK have been campaigning for a separate category for British Sikhs for years and are hopeful that research launched this week to inform the census questionnaire will lead to such a change.

“If the Census 2021 ethnicity question does not include a Sikh tick box question, the impact from a service user perspective will continue to grow and result in Sikhs being invisible to those who develop policies and deliver public services,” Sikh Federation UK and Sikh Network said as part of their representations to the ONS.

“This will span across the inequalities observed by Sikhs in health, education, employment etc,” it said.

Gypsy, Jewish, Latin American, Somali and Turkish are among some of the other ethnicities that are being considered as part of a UK-wide survey of nearly 40,000 households which began yesterday.

The results of the survey will be analysed and published later this year before a ‘Census White Paper’ is prepared for Parliament by 2018.

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