India has lodged a strong protest with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) over its recent report on human rights violations in the militancy-hit state of Jammu and Kashmir. In a communication sent to the OHCHR on June 12, New Delhi has raised the issue of the world body’s departure from internationally accepted terminology in the report.
India pointed out that the OHCHR in its 49-page report described the United Nations-proscribed terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) as ‘armed group’ 38 times and PoK as ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ 26 times. Besides, it said that the OHCHR nowhere mentioned ‘cross-border terrorism’ rather used ‘cross-border shelling’ twice.
The OHCHR report, prepared by Jordanian citizen Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, also referred to terrorists as ‘leaders’ of terror groups named earlier in this report. The report also called for an international investigation into alleged human rights violations in ‘Indian-Administered and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir’, saying Indian and Pakistani security forces used ‘excessive’ force in both sides of the ‘disputed territory’, killing and wounding civilians since 2016.
However, India outrightly rejected the report calling it as ‘fallacious, tendentious and motivated’.
Sources told IE that Zeid had shared the advance copy of the report with New Delhi on June 4 to point out ‘factual errors’. But the report issued by him on Thursday did not rectify the mistakes.
“This report underlines the UN-led international consensus on zero tolerance to terrorism,” a source was quoted as saying. Also the report which is titled – “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”, took account of a specific period of turmoil in the last two years and presents a lopsided picture of the situation.
According to the IE report, which cited sources, India argued that Zeid violated the UN resolution 48/141 resolution by using terms like Azad J&K and Gilgit Baltistan in the report. New Delhi strongly contended that it considers them (Azad J&K and Gilgit Baltistan as cited in the OHCHR report) an integral part of India.
The UN resolution 48/141 states that the High Commissioner for Human Rights should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member countries.
Zeid is a Jordanian national and belongs to a royal family. He is due to demit the office on August 31 this year. Zeid prepared the report without taking first-hand stock of the situation and consulting any of the members of the UNHRC. “It appears to be completely driven by a biased and personal agenda of a discredited outgoing official, openly flouting all norms of multilateral engagement,” the source said.
It added that the report represents Zaid’s personal views that is contradictory to the views of the UN Human Rights Council as an institution. “It is not a UN report, it is the report of the office of the High Commissioner, which is different. We must distinguish between the two,” the source added.
India pointed out the Zeid didn’t take into account New Delhi’s June 12 response while drafting the final report. He had not named ‘cross-border’ terrorism even once it his report, adding that people of Jammu and Kashmir have been suffering due to state-sponsored cross-border terrorism from Pakistan for the last four decades.
While referring to the recent horrific killing of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari by terrorists in Srinagar, sources said that since the 1990s, India has lost nearly 14,000 innocent civilians and over 5,000 security personnel to cross-border terrorism in J&K.
Sources also said that India’s human rights record was examined in May 2017 at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council. All the members had conducted a ‘peer review’ and that on no occasion, the Council mandated or authorized Zeid to undertake any monitoring.
“He has acted alone, without any sanction from the UNHRC,” the source said.