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UK MPs discuss human rights issue in J&K, demand access to LoC for EU, UN officials

UK MPs discuss human rights issue in J&K demand access to LoC for EU UN officials

Porni Banerjee

Raising concerns over the Kashmir issue, several British parliamentarians at Westminster Hall’s House of Commons in London participated in the discussion on the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday evening.

The MPs demanded that the EU and UN human rights officials be given access to both sides of the Line of Control and proposed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the issue with Indian PM Narendra Modi. They want to send their own representatives so that they can get an access of the situation concerning human rights.

Recently, Human Rights Watch has also published a report in its World Report 2021 which had put forward the persecution of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.

The report discussed that “hundreds of people remained detained in Jammu and Kashmir without charge under the draconian Public Safety Act, which permits detention without trial for up to two years”.

The report further highlighted that the Narendra Modi-led government continued to impose harsh and discriminatory restrictions on Muslim-majority areas in Jammu and Kashmir after scrapping the territory’s constitutional status in August 2019 and splitting it into two federally governed territories.

 

This revocation of special status of both the territories added restrictions including access to communication networks since August 2019 adversely affecting livelihoods, particularly in the tourism-dependent Kashmir Valley.

The debate, organised at the venue by British MP Sarah Owen, was entitled Political situation in Kashmir terminology, which the Indian High Commission in London declared as problematic in itself.

Regarding the Kashmir debate, High Commission said in a statement, “the need is felt to differentiate between the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India, and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (when the erstwhile princely state of Kashmir legally acceded to India in October 1947, this part was forcibly and illegally occupied by Pakistan)”.

The Indian High Commission also stated that “references to the Indian UT of Jammu and Kashmir, despite the volumes of authentic information available in the public domain, ignored current ground reality and, instead chose to reflect false assertions of the kind promoted by a third country, such as unsubstantiated allegations of ‘genocide’, ‘rampant violence’ and ‘torture’”.

Speaking at the debate, MP Sarah Owens said, “I’m sure that at some stage we have caught ourselves moaning about lockdown, but for the people of Kashmir, it’s not something new.

And unlike Kashmir, lockdown is not about safety, it is about control”.

UK minister for Asia Nigel Adams, representing the UK government at the debate said it was “not appropriate” for Britain to prescribe a solution or play any mediatory role in the bilateral affair between India and Pakistan.

However, it would be “wrong to not acknowledge that there are serious human rights concerns in Kashmir”.

Adams added that the UK government was “requesting permission for officials from our high commission to visit Kashmir as soon as the situation permits”.

The debate among the MPs witnessed discussion on outstanding issues including prolonged lockdown and internet restrictions, communication issues, unexplained and uninvestigated deaths, allegations on rape cases, detention without trial, curfews and mass arrests in J&K.

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