The UNHRC Report on Jammu & Kashmir

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report released on 14 June 18 has created quite a stir in Indian media. This first ever report on Human Rights (HR) violations in Jammu & Kashmir has been prepared based on remote monitoring. This perhaps is its biggest failing that raises a lot of questions about its credibility and therefore it may be best for Indian government to just trash it and close the issue. The government can take a cue from the approach of Israel against whom many such reports have been issued from time to time but it still goes about its task of furthering and protecting its national interests in a manner that it feels is best suited based on the actual ground situation. The fact that national interests including territorial integrity cannot be compromised has to outweigh any other consideration at all times.

The report talks of human rights violations on either side of the Line of Control (LOC). India must view Jammu & Kashmir (J & K) as whole (including Pakistan occupied Kashmir) and therefore avoid making any remarks separately on POK. Ideally India should show prudence and restrain its reaction on the happenings reported on the other side of LOC. The report delves on political dimensions of the dispute between India and Pakistan, lack of basic human rights and legal recourse to people of J & K, use of excessive force by Indian security forces against protestors that is against international standards and implementation of AFSPA by Indian government. It is obvious that the report is more critical of India than it is of Pakistan – and that is what should be of concern to India.

While India may ignore the report it is important to find out the methodology of how the report was prepared with remote monitoring mainly from the point of view to identify the sources of various inputs for the report. Were discussions held with Indian or Pakistani diplomats posted in UNO? If they were then it is obvious that Indian diplomats came off second best and that should be a matter of concern. Were discussions held with leaders of various anti India organisations like Hizbul Mujaheideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hurriyat? Did the authors of the report interact with any local politicians in India including J & K? Were any media houses or independent reporters consulted? Were any contributions received from some known human rights activists who support separatists in Kashmir and whose sole profession is to question the state regarding its policies in J & K? This is important since it is well known that there are many in our country who ‘for a few dollars more’ will not hesitate to give loaded opinions and inputs that go against the interests of the state as long as it pleases their handlers abroad. For any nation it is important to know who its internal enemies are.

Indian government must ensure that individuals and organisations that matter in international circles are educated about the fact that the people in J & K not only enjoy the rights and privileges that a normal Indian citizen has but also some special ones which are applicable only to the state of J & K. Normal privileges include the right to vote both for state and national elections, freedom of speech, right to carry out peaceful protests, equal educational and job opportunities anywhere in the country, access to a proper judicial system at par with other states of the nation, grants for development of the state and the right to buy property anywhere in the country. In addition there are special reservations for youth of the state in many educational institutions across the nation, restrictions on non J & K domiciles to buy property in J & K and concessions on various taxes for the people of the state. So where is the case for lack of basic human rights?However if someone picks up arms against the Indian state then there is no case for grant of any basic human rights to such individuals since in doing so they also carry out atrocities on local civilians and spread fear in the populace at large.

Based on the Simla Agreement of 1972 with Pakistan, India must tell UNHRC (and United Nations) in no uncertain terms that Kashmir issue is not in their scope as the two nations have decided to deal with it bilaterally. UNHRC may even be told that by publishing such reports unilaterally and seeking an independent international investigation, it is only vitiating the climate for any settlement or discussions between the two nations. Further, such initiatives can only be counterproductive and go against the spirit of the charter of UNO.M ay be India can file an official complaint with the UNO in this regard after due deliberations internally. If India is aspiring to be a super power it is time it flexes a bit of its muscle and announces its arrival as such. India must not allow itself to be viewed as a soft nation that can be maligned by any international organisation at the behest of some vested interests.

Saroj Chadha, an engineering professional, is a successful entrepreneur. Having retired from the Indian Army after having served for over 23 years, he has also been a consultant for leading Indian and Multinational electrical companies. He lives in New Delhi.

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