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UN Human Rights Council evaluating new report on Indian rights abuses in Kashmir: World body spokesman

UNITED NATIONS: A UN spokesman said Tuesday that a new UN report on the Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir will be evaluated by the members of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council before deciding on how to follow it up. The report issued by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday renewed calls for an international probe into serious violations in the disputed Kashmir region, saying the number of civilian casualties from May 2018 to April 2019 may be the highest in over a decade. Responding to questions at the regular noon briefing at UN Headquarters in New York in New York, Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq side-stepped a question whether Secretary-General Antonio   Guterres supported the report’s recommendations, saying that at this stage the report was with the 47-member Council. “We will leave the members of the Human Rights Council to evaluate its contents,” he added. Specifically asked if the UN chief would seek an investigation into the rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir, Farhan Haq said that for such a course, he would need a mandate from a appropriate  UN body. The UN report says that arbitrary detentions during search operations by Indian troops are leading to a range of human rights violations.

Despite the high numbers of civilians killed in the vicinity of gun battles between security forces and militants, “there is no information about any new investigation into excessive use of force leading to casualties”, it said. The report was also critical of special legal regimes used by India in Kashmir, saying accountability for violations committed by troops remains virtually non-existent. The report says that in nearly three decades that emergency laws have been in force in Jammu and Kashmir, there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government in a civilian court. It called for the repeal of special powers protecting troops from prosecution. The United Nations also flagged a spike in hate crimes against Kashmiris in the rest of India following the February attacks, calling on India to do more to prevent the violence.