Human Rights: 41 Session of The UPR

Reports say that in the last few months at least 36 journalists have faced interrogation, physical assault, raids and threats or for their reporting on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir

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Women attending the funeral prayers of a rebel in Shopian district of south Kashmir. Shopian and Pulwama districts have remained hotbeds of local rebellion after the killing of charismatic rebel commander Burhaan Wani, in 2016. [Sameer Mushtaq/Al Jazeera]

Kashmir Institute of International Relations, commonly known as KIIR, isa non-governmental organization established in 1993.“Peace through Dialogue” is the only motto of this organization and its only objective is to work for a peaceful South Asia. KIIR believes that there could be no peace in South Asia unless the Kashmir conflict is resolved through substantive dialogue: all stakeholders including Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir will have to become the part of that dialogue. But before getting into further discussion on the working of the KIIR, let us have a little glance over a ‘small-story’ published on KIIR’s web-page along with a painful picture of a young Kashmiri girl. “This is fourteen-year-old Miss Insha Malik, who had a dream to become a doctor, lies unconscious in the surgical ICU of the Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar, her eyes pierced by pellets. Her eyes have been ruptured and she will be blind in both eyes for her entire life, says the doctor of the hospital.”

Recently, the KIIR has submitted a report on human rights violations in IIOJK to UNHRC MECHANISM. This report was further forwarded to the 41st Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which is taking place at Geneva from 7th to 18th November 2022. During the session human rights situation of ten countries including India is being discussed. India’s first, second and third UPR reviews had taken place in April 2008, May 2012 and May 2017, respectively; this one is the fourth one. God knows better what results would be found out during the UPR session at Geneva after going through the report submitted by KIIR to the UNHRC MECHANISM. The said report contains a lot of heart rending facts regarding human rights violations in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu Kashmir including misuse of various draconian laws like AFSPA, PSA and UAPA, abrogation of Article 370 and 35/A, forced disappearances, rape, mass-graves, militarization of schools, hospitals and of so many other public institutions. The KIIR has submitted some recommendations too for bringing permanent peace to the occupied valley. These most important of these recommendations is unhindered access to UN special Rapporteurs and mandate holders to IIOJK so that they might be able to find on-ground realities there. The KIIR has recommended repealing of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu Kashmir Public Safety Act (JKPSA). Situation is really so horrible and frightening in the IIOJK that people feel they cannot even breathe their own.

The Amnesty International India organized a press conference in June 2022 in which grave concern was expressed regarding the human rights violation in IIOJK. Aakar Patel, chair of Amnesty International India Board said talking to the media-men that increase in unlawful killings in Jammu & Kashmir highlights Government’s failure to protect its minorities. He further said, “The Indian authorities must take urgent steps for the protection of the people of Kashmir. For decades, people of Jammu & Kashmir have suffered from gross human rights violations and abuses committed by both state and non-state actors. The sheer impunity with which the human rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir have been systematically disregarded by Indian authorities must end if we are to fulfil the rights of victims and help ensure that such abuses against civilians are not repeated.”

It is a sheer misconception that Jammu and Kashmir are home only to the Muslim community. It is also just a propaganda that only Muslims are being targeted by the security forces unlawfully deputed there. The security forces target everyone who talks about freedom and liberty and protests against the atrocities of the Indian security forces. Just at the end of last June a report was published in different newspapers of India which exposed that at least 19 civilians had been killed in 2022 since then by the security troops. Out of those 19, seven belonged to the Hindu community including a schoolteacher, shopkeeper, government employees and a casual daily worker.

Though the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been in worst condition for the last many decades but after the revocation of Jammu & Kashmir’s special status in 2019, things have become more horrible. Misusing the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the security forces are simply crushing the basic human rights of the local people. Every day, tens of human rights defenders, journalists and activists are being arrested without registering any FIR against them. Reports say that in the last few months at least 36 journalists have faced interrogation, physical assault, raids and threats or for their reporting on human rights violations. In spite of being a Hindu by creed, Aakar Patel, the chair of Amnesty International India Board, has a very honest and impartial approach towards the human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir. A few months back, he said in a statement, “It is not too late for the Government of India to take meaningful steps towards creating an inclusive and safe society instead of peddling a false notion of normalcy in the region and encouraging the perpetration of more abuses. Until then, the Indian government’s historical failure to protect the people of Kashmir will keep feeding into this never-ending cycle of abuses and impunity.” This statement must be an eye-opener not only to the government of India but also to the peace-keeping organization like UNHRC and all bitter realities exposed by Aakar Patel must be kept before while preparing the fourth Universal Periodic Review of India.

Ali Sukhanver

The writer is an Associate Professor of English at Govt College of Science, Multan

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