OHCHR Report on Kashmir: Inconsistencies Exposes Malicious Intent
Brig (retd) Rahul Bhonsle

It is ironic that on a day when the entire nation was mourning the killing of one of the most respected journalists of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Mr Sujaat Bukhari, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published the first ever report on the situation of human rights in Kashmir ignoring the blatant manner in which terrorist groups are holding the State to ransom.

On the same day the bullet riddled body of a soldier Sepoy Aurangzeb, abducted from Shopian in Kashmir, was found abandoned. The OHCHR Report also comes at a time when there is a self-enforced period of non-initiation of offensive operations by the Government of India and J&K keeping in view the holy period of Ramazan for the past one month.

The Human Rights Council, as per its web site, is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. Yet the Office of the OHCHR in its “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir: “Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018, and General Human Rights Concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan,” has ignored the fundamentals of producing such reports, the right of the State parties to respond to allegations and insinuations made based on inadequate investigation of evidence, and facts which are available publicly. What is more, the OHCHR Report contradicts its own findings between chapters and even in paragraphs within the chapters thus indicating lack of due diligence in preparation of the report and creating an impression that the same is produced with a malicious intent on the eve of the 38th Regular Session 18 June 2018 to 06 July 2018.

Here are some of the inconsistencies in the Report highlighted to indicate lack of thoroughness in preparing a report of a member state of the UN as India whose consistent record of adherence to the highest norms of the United Nations Charter in use of force have been lauded from time to time.

The Inconsistencies

While the OHCHR Report acknowledges that the Instrument of Accession to India by the ruler of J&K was signed on 26 October 1947, albeit “under pressure from invading Pashtun forces,” yet throughout the text, the OHCHR continues to make references to ‘Indian-Administered Kashmir’ and to the portions under Pakistan occupation as ‘Azad Kashmir’. This is a blatant violation of the sovereignty of India which is unacceptable from a UN body.

While the Report contends that the demonstrations started in July 2016 and alleges that excessive force was used by the Indian security forces, there is no information provided of the nature of the protests and the grave provocations that had led to the unfortunate deaths. To recount, the mass protests from July 2016 led to a situation of virtual anarchy in the State of J&K which was handled with a high degree of patience, maturity and forbearance by the security forces. In situations where mobs ran amuck burnt police stations and attack security forces personnel and posts, the rights and responsibilities of the State to maintain law and order as envisaged in the UN Charter had led to use of minimum force which is the principle that is applied by security forces across India and not only in J&K. Going by the argument of the OHCHR, the Indian state should have abdicated responsibility to protect the citizens from mob actions, bent in front of marauders who indulged in arson and attacked security forces in an organised manner. Such an implied proposition is preposterous to say the least.

While the Report draws on information from the public domain, the access is highly selective, else the focus could not have been on the casualty figures alone but should have included circumstances of each incident that have been cited. No efforts have been made to obtain authentic information from government sources, one such instance is the citing of presence of 700,000 soldiers in J&K based purely on media reports. The OHCHR did not find it appropriate to corroborate how 700,000 soldiers of an army of 1.2 million can be deployed in Kashmir. Such glaring omissions again raise concerns over the malevolent intent and the lack of basic research guidance of corroborations.

While the Report claims that not a single person has been prosecuted by the Central Government due to restrictions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in the text in the same paragraph, the fact that 104 army personnel have been punished for human rights violations by the India Army is acknowledged. Such contradictions do not behove on a report produced by an organisation as the OHCHR

Use of pellet guns has also come for much criticism by the Report even though it acknowledges that studies have been carried out by the Ministry of Home Affairs to seek other non-lethal options but have found no alternatives. No research has been carried out the OHCHR of what the consequences would have been had bullets been used instead of pellets.

Restrictions on mobile telephony has also come up for criticism in the OHCHR Report, whereas the need to lay down the same to restrict communications for malafide intent for passage of fake videos to incite people to come out on the streets, anti-national messages and provocations have been completely ignored.

All in all the OHCHR Report is not only biased and one sided but inaccurate and violates the sovereign rights of the State to govern effectively in the larger interest of public and not to surrender to the deviants instigated by inimical forces from across the border in Pakistan.

As the Report deviates significantly from the established norms the same should be withdrawn in the interest of UN’s credibility.

Image Source: http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/shared/npr/styles/x_large/nprshared/201806/619050868.jpg

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