India disapproves of U.N. special rapporteurs’ criticism on J&K, calls for “better understanding of issues before jumping to hasty conclusions”

Published : February 20, 2021 18:44 IST

Voters wait their turn at a polling station at Chandergeer village in Bandipora district of North Kashmir during the eighth phase of the District Development Council elections in Jammu and Kashmir, on December 19, 2020. Photo: NISSAR AHMAD

India has expressed disapproval over the remarks made by two United Nations Special Rapporteurs, criticising New Delhi’s policies vis-a-vis Jammu and Kashmir. A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs has asserted that the region is an “integral and inalienable” part of the country and that the U.N. Rapporteurs made a “hasty conclusion”.

Earlier, Special Rapporteur on minority issues Fernand de Varennes and Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Ahmed Shaheed published a press release on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and made critical observations against India on the withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on February 19 that the press release was deliberately timed to coincide with the visit of a group of ambassadors to Jammu and Kashmir. “The press release disregards the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inalienable part of India and the decision of August 5, 2019, regarding the change in the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory of India was taken by the Parliament of India," he said

Anurag Srivastava said the press release made no mention of the Government’s efforts to “ending decades of discrimination, enshrining democracy at the grassroots level through successful conduct of local elections for the District Development Councils (DDC), and ensuring good governance.”

He contended, “The press release has ignored the positive impact of extending laws applicable to the rest of India to Jammu and Kashmir, enabling the people of Jammu and Kashmir to enjoy the same rights as available to people in other parts of India,” he said.

Responding to the Rapporteurs’ concern over India’s decision to end Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy, Anurag Srivastava said, “We expect the Special Rapporteurs to develop a better understanding of the issues under their consideration before jumping to hasty conclusions and issuing press statements.”

Fernand de Varennes and Ahmed Shaheed had noted in the press release: “The loss of autonomy and the imposition of direct rule by the government in New Delhi suggests the people of Jammu and Kashmir no longer have their own government and have lost power to legislate or amend laws in the region to ensure the protection of their rights as minorities.”