Muslim bloc endorses UN call to probe Kashmir abuses

OIC rights body condemns extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, detentions by Indian forces

The human rights body of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday endorsed a call by UN experts for a probe into extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Indian-administered Kashmir.

In a statement marking a year since India revoked the region’s special constitutional status, the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) voiced support for UN experts’ demand “for urgent action to remedy the alarming human rights situation”. India has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir to quash any backlash against its controversial move to scrap the region’s autonomy. Thousands of people, including political leaders and activists, have been imprisoned since Aug. 5 last year, while phone and internet connectivity still remains limited after months of complete suspension. “IPHRC fully endorses the demands of UN experts to investigate all cases of human rights violations which include extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and detentions in the valley,” read the statement. On Tuesday, UN human rights experts urged the international community to act if India continues to fail to address the deteriorating conditions in the disputed Himalayan territory.

“Urgent action is needed. If India will not take any genuine and immediate steps to resolve the situation, meet their obligations to investigate historic and recent cases of human rights violations and prevent future violations, then the international community should step up,” the UN experts said.

They said “the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been in free fall” since last August. “We are particularly concerned that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many protestors are still in detention and internet restrictions remain in place,” the UN special rapporteurs said. They also raised concerns over the alleged arbitrary detention, torture, and ill-treatment of Kashmiris, as well as the criminalization of journalists.

- Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China. Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965, and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir. Some Kashmiri groups have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.