GENEVA, Feb 26 (APP):The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, Friday expressed her continuing “concern” over the deteriorating situation in Indian occupied Kashmir, and said that the farmers’ protest against farm laws around New Delhi call for ensuring that legislations are based on consultations with stakeholders.
Bachelet made the remarks while updating the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on human rights issues in more than 50 countries.
The high commissioner said that UNHRC is continuing to monitor the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, “where restrictions on communications, and clampdowns on civil society activists, remain of concern”.
“Despite recent restoration of 4G access for mobile phones, the communications blockade has seriously hampered civic participation, as well as business, livelihoods, education, and access to health-care and medical information,” she said.
The UN high commissioner for human rights was also critical of action taken by Indian authorities against journalists covering the protests and efforts to curb freedom of expression on social media.
“Raids against human rights defenders in October and November exemplify the continued restrictions on civil society, and resulting impact on the rights of the people of Kashmir to impart and receive information, and to engage in free, open debate on Government policies affecting them,” she said.
“In India, continued protests by hundreds of thousands of farmers highlight the importance of ensuring laws and policies are based on meaningful consultations with those concerned,” Bachelet said in her address.
“I trust that ongoing dialogue efforts by both sides will lead to an equitable solution to this crisis that respects the rights of all,” she said.
“Charges of sedition against journalists and activists for reporting or commenting on the protests, and attempts to curb freedom of expression on social media, are disturbing departures from essential human rights principles,” Bachelet added.
The government’s handling of the farmers’ protest, which began on November 26 last year, has been criticized by celebrities, lawmakers and political leaders in several countries. After several rounds of unsuccessful negotiations with the government, the unions backing the protest intensified their agitation by organizing a tractor rally in the capital on January 26.