The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) today once again asked India and Pakistan to grant it "unconditional access" to both sides on the line of control to establish an "objective assessment" of the situation in Kashmir.
But the suggestion drew a sharp response from India’s ministry of external affairs. India said that terrorism is the “grossest violation” of human rights and should be so acknowledged by an impartial and objective observer.
The statement was a direct reference to the unrest in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The ministry asserted that the unrest in the Valley had been “aggravated by sustained cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan”.
India said it hoped the connection between terrorism and violation of human rights would be deliberated upon in Geneva at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council.
Replying to UNHCHR's suggestion to unconditional access to both sides on the line of control, India’s external affairs ministry said that there was no comparison between the situations in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and that controlled by Pakistan.
“The former has a democratically elected government, while the latter has seen a Pakistani diplomat arbitrarily appointed as its head," the ministry said.
UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that Pakistan had already formally invited a team to the Pakistani side of the line of control, but expecting a simultaneous mission to the Indian side too.
"We had previously received reports, and still continue to do so, claiming the Indian authorities had used force excessively against the civilian population under its administration. We furthermore received conflicting narratives from the two sides as to the cause for the confrontations and the reported large numbers of people killed and wounded. I believe an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides," PTI reported Hussein as saying.
The ministry said that the issue of an external mission was considered by the all-party conference on August 12 to discuss the situation in the state.
"It was unanimously felt that Indian democracy has all that is required to address legitimate grievances. Accordingly, an all-party delegation visited Srinagar. Despite cross-border terrorist infiltration that saw an encounter only yesterday, the government remains fully engaged in normalizing the situation as soon as possible," the ministry said.
An MEA statement said that the present situation arose from the death of a “self-acknowledged commander of the terrorist organization, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, who was wanted for several terrorist acts.”