UN rights chief hits back on Indian allegations of bias in Kashmir report

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UNITED NATIONS, Jul 18 (APP):The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has rejected Indian allegations against its report on the human rights abuses by Indian security forces in Kashmir, saying the campaign against it was an attempt to divert the focus away from the serious situation there.
“Since the report was published, we have been deeply disappointed by the reaction of the Indian authorities, who dismissed the report as ‘fallacious, tendentious and motivated’ without examining it and responding to the very serious concerns about the human rights situation” in Indian occupied Kashmir, Rupert Colville, a spokesman for UN rights chief said in a statement in Geneva on Monday.
“The UN Human Rights Office has a global mandate and works independently, with a well-established methodology, in its public reporting,” the statement said.
“Ultimately, our goal in drafting this report was to assist the States and others to identify and address human rights challenges and to give a voice to all Kashmiris who have been rendered voiceless amid the deep political polarization.
“This is not about politics. It is about the human rights of millions of people in Kashmir. And we will continue to try to engage with Indian and Pakistani authorities on this and other important human rights issues, and press for access to both Indian-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.” Spokesman Coville added.
The first-ever UN report on rights violation in the disputed state was released last month and it focused mainly on Indian occupied Kashmir, citing a number of instances of grave human rights violations.
The spokesman referred to Indian media outlets’ accusations against the report calling it “Nefarious conspiracy,” “Pakistan-authored report”, “fallacious”, “mala fide”, and said the report was developed through remote monitoring, after not being allowed unconditional access to the region.
The statement said, “In recent days, a surprising number of Indian media organizations have seized unquestioningly upon a claim by someone reported to be a Canada-based imam of Pakistani descent, named Zafar Bangash, that the High Commissioner was in constant contact with him, with the inference being that Mr Bangash influenced the content of the report. This is totally untrue. The High Commissioner has never spoken with Mr Bangash, and we are not aware of receiving any information from him, let alone using it, although it is possible he sent an email or letter and received a polite acknowledgment, as is the case with thousands of letters and emails sent to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.”
Responding to such allegation, the report added, “The report contains 388 footnotes that detail all the sources that were used: these include official sources such as the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha “ India’s parliament ” as well as the Supreme Court of India, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, the Union Ministry of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff and even a former Vice President. Accusations that we used unverified information are thus rather puzzling. The report also draws on reliable information from reputable civil society organizations and the Press Trust of India, and these are all clearly cited in the footnotes.