International probe into Kashmir killings imperative now: UN rights chief

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UNITED NATIONS (APP) – The deteriorating situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir has now made it crucial to establish an independent, impartial and international mission to assess the situation, the UN human rights chief has said, while regretting India’s lack of response to his request for access to its controlled part of the disputed state.

UN rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council that he received a letter from the Government of Pakistan on Sept 9 formally inviting a team from his office to visit Azad Kashmir but only in tandem with a mission to the Indian side.

“I have yet to receive a formal letter from the government of India. I therefore request here and publicly, from the two governments, access that is unconditional to both sides of the Line of Control,” he said.

“Two months ago, I requested the agreement of the governments of India and Pakistan to invite teams from my office to visit both sides of the Line of Control: in other words, the India-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir,” Zeid said in remarks delivered on Tuesday at the opening session of HRC.

“We furthermore received conflicting narratives from the two sides as to the cause for the confrontations and the reported large numbers of people killed and wounded. I believe an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides,” he said.

The top UN official also said that they continue receiving reports of Indian forces using force excessively against civilian population under its administration.

The Indian government has been coming under growing pressure over the level of casualties in the region during protests against Indian rule, which broke out after the death of a popular rebel leader on July 8 during a gunbattle with soldiers.

More than 70 civilians have been killed and thousands injured in the worst violence to hit the territory since 2010.

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