India objects to ‘false assertions’ on Kashmir in U.K. Parliament debate

Published : January 15, 2021 17:45 IST

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons on January 13. Photo: JESSICA TAYLOR/AP

India on January 14 expressed disapproval over a debate on the human rights situation in Kashmir held at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, titled “Political situation in Kashmir”. India not only objected to the terminology of the debate but stressed that it relied on “false assertions” and unsubstantiated allegations propagated by a “third country”, an allusion to Pakistan.

The debate, held on January 13, was the brainchild of backbench British MPs at Westminster Hall in the House of Commons and led by the Labour Party’s Sarah Owen. It included the participation of cross-party British MPs, many of whom have a large Kashmiri diaspora constituency base.

Soon after the debate, Sarah Owen tweeted that she was “committed to keep fighting until your [Kashmiris’] human rights are protected, now and in the future”. She said: “The pandemic has not slowed reports of human rights abuses and in some cases has not exasperated people’s pain.… Muslims have been reported to have turned away from hospitals. This is shocking at the best of times but especially so during a global pandemic.” She described the Kashmir lockdown of 2019-2020 as about “control”.

The Indian High Commission in a statement said, “Regarding the reference to ‘Kashmir’ in the title: 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).”

It further underlined, “It was also noted that references to the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, despite the volumes of authentic information available in the public domain—based on up to date and visible facts on the ground—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’.”

Following this, Nigel Adams, Minister for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), clarified that the U.K. government’s policy on Kashmir remained stable and unchanged. Adams stated, “We continue to believe that this is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation that takes into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people, as laid out in the Simla Agreement.”