NEW DELHI — United Nations’ Human Rights Council on Monday expressed “deep concern” on the continuing month-long lockdowns in Jammu and Kashmir and exclusion of around 1.9 million people from Assam’s National Register of Citizens or NRC.
“I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris, including restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in her opening statement at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“While I continue to urge the Governments of India and Pakistan to ensure that human rights are respected and protected, I have appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews; to ensure people’s access to basic services; and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained. It is important that the people of Kashmir are consulted and engaged in any decision-making processes that have an impact on their future,” she said.
She also said that in relation to Kashmir, her office “continues to receive reports on the human rights situation on both sides of the line of control.”
Since August 5 when Indian government repealed the Article 370 withdrawing the special status and rights to Jammu and Kashmir and converting the state into two union territories, there has been restrictions on people’s movements and curbs on telephone and internet services. Hundreds of local politicians, including three former Chief Ministers – Farooque Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been in detention either at their houses or government guesthouses.
The UN rights body also expressed concern on the exclusion of 19 lakh people from the final list of NRC in Assam.
“The recent National Register of Citizens verification process in the northeast Indian state of Assam has caused great uncertainty and anxiety, with some 1.9 million people excluded from the final list published on 31 August. I appeal to the Government to ensure due process during the appeals process, prevent deportation or detention, and ensure people are protected from statelessness,” said Michelle.
On August 31, the Assam government released the final version of NRC. While 3.11 crore people were included in the citizens’ register, over 19 lakh people found their names missing from the list. The government has asked them to prove their bona fide Indian citizenship before the state-managed Foreigners’ Tribunals within four months. However, people are scared as several detention centres are being erected in different parts of the state.