The The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has called on India to have confidence to look into the human rights violations in Kashmir. He said that such excesses have led to the alienation of the entire population of the state, "particularly the young people.
In an opinion piece for The Indian Express, Hussein wrote the reaction of the Indian authorities to UN report was disappointing but also puzzling as the facts in the report were from government documents and sources. And which is also true. There is very little in the report that is not already in public domain. The report has quoted already documented human rights excesses and the media reports. And more importantly, the report spans the entire J&K including the part under Pakistan's administration. So, normally, there shouldn't have been much to find fault with in the report. But despite that, New Delhi has rejected the report as "fallacious, tendentious and motivated". External affairs ministry spokesperson said the report was "overtly prejudiced" seeking to build a "false narrative." The Army chief General Bipin Rawat has too termed the report as motivated. He said the government is deeply concerned that individual prejudices are being allowed to undermine the credibility of a UN institution.
Now UNHRC has proposed a Commission of Inquiry on the state. Islamabad has said it was ready to facilitate the access of the Commission to its part of Kashmir if India gives a similar access to the UN team to Jammu and Kashmir. But that seems unlikely to happen. New Delhi has already made it known that the report violates its sovereignty. This has, once again, created a familiar deadlock on the state. And it is a tragedy.
What should have been an opportunity to introspect and look dispassionately at the situation in the state has been turned into a blame-game, this time with UN. New Delhi has sought to look at the development through terror lens, as if the situation in Kashmir was existing in a vacuum, artificially created by the meddling of Pakistan. There is no acknowledgment of the local factors underpinning this situation. What the UN report stresses is that there is an urgent need to grapple with the root causes that breed violence. This may have become a clichéd argument and thus often and sometimes rightly criticized for providing a justification for the violence, but this hardly detracts from the truth of the contention.
Before embarking on one more round of an all-out war on militancy in the state, New Delhi will need to do some serious soul-searching and look for some blame for what is happening in the state within also. We need a paradigm shift in how to tackle violence and terrorism away from only fighting it with the beefed up security apparatus. Yes, New Delhi needs to simultaneously work to engage with the root cause and resolve it.
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