The United Nations has once again accused India of human rights violations in Kashmir and reiterated the call for the formation of a commission of inquiry to conduct a “comprehensive, independent, international investigation” into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir. A 43-page report released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Monday asked India to investigate the killing of civilians following the killing of the militant commander Burhan Wani in 2016. It says authorities in India “continue to use various forms of arbitrary detention to target protesters, political dissidents and other civil society actors”. The report also calls out Pakistan for detaining Kashmiri separatists in its part of the region.
However, New Delhi has once again rejected the UN report, calling it “false, with a motivated narrative”. In a statement, Indian government’s spokesperson Raveesh Kumar accused the OHCHR of “legitimising terrorism”. He said “the assertions in the report are in violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ignore the core issue of cross-border terrorism”.
There is thus little that has changed since the first-ever UN report on Kashmir published in June last year documented human rights excesses in Kashmir based on the media and the other reports including those from the government agencies. New Delhi has maintained that the report violates its sovereignty and hence it won’t cooperate. And with the fresh UN report too, India has responded along similar lines.
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 with the UN. This will hardly help the situation in the state which over the past some years has gone from bad to worse. Despite killings of hundreds of militants – an estimated 800 since 2014, militancy has shown no sign that it is abating.
New Delhi has sought rather to look at the development through terror lens. This outlook assumes the situation in Kashmir operates in a vacuum, created artificially by meddling of Pakistan. There is no acknowledgement of the local factors underpinning this situation. There is no appreciation that that there is an urgent need to grapple with the root causes that breed violence. This situation seems unlikely to change unless New Delhi takes a more constructive view of the UN report and the world body’s fresh request and takes visible steps to improve the human rights situation in J&K.