UNHCR terms Indian media hue and cry ‘puzzling’, ‘wild claims’

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In yet another embarrassment to India at the international level for its blatant human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has lashed out at the campaign launched by the Indian media outlets at the behest of the Indian government against the UN body and UN Secretary General over UNHRC’s landmark report on Kashmir terming it ‘puzzling’ and ‘wild claims’.

Rupert Colville, the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, in a statement issued to press in Geneva said that the Indian media calling the UN body’ report as “Nefarious conspiracy”, “Pakistan-authored report”, “fallacious”, “mala fide” are unfounded and baseless.

The maiden UN report on human rights abuses by the Indian troops in occupied Kashmir had generated heated debate between India and UN itself to the extent that India called the UNHCHR ‘biased’ and Secretary General UN of over stepping his mandate.

“The UN Human Rights Office has a global mandate and works independently, with a well-established methodology, in its public reporting,” Rupert Colville said in the statement.

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, on July 13 backed the international body’s human rights chief’s call for an independent international probe into rights abuses in occupied Kashmir.

About human rights report on Kashmir, Rupert Colville said that the report contained 388 footnotes that detailed all the sources that were used: these included official sources such as the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha (the two houses of Indian parliament), the Supreme Court of India, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, the Indian Ministry of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff and even a former Vice President. “Accusations that we used unverified information are thus rather puzzling,” Rupert Colville said.

The UNCHCR also said that it had been ‘deeply disappointed by the reaction of the Indian authorities’, who dismissed the report as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated” without examining it and responding to the very serious concerns about the human rights situation in occupied Kashmir. The spokesperson termed the Indian media campaign as sustained attempts to distract and divert focus from human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.

The goal in drafting the report, Rupert Colville said, was to assist the States and others to identify and address human rights challenges and to give a voice to all Kashmiris who have been rendered voiceless amid the deep political polarization.

“This is not about politics. It is about the human rights of millions of people in Kashmir. And we will continue to try to engage with Indian and Pakistani authorities on this and other important human rights issues…,” Rupert Colville added.

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