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UK Parliament's Report On Kashmir An Eye Opener For World

LONDON: The All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) of the British Parliament,a bi-partisan group has condemned India for using excessive force in the Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK)and refusing to allow independent observers from the London to enter into the territory to monitor the  veracity and scale of human rights abuses.

The Chairperson of  APPKG , unveiled the group's report, alongside dozens of Labour and Conservative MPs as well as President of Azad Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan.

The report notes that “repeated requests notwithstanding, no representative of either Indian central government or the J&K state government has agreed to give evidence, verbally or in writing".

The release of this report is arguably a big breakthrough and a milestone for the people of Kashmir after the one previously published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in June 2018, highlighting the human rights violations and abuses in IoK.

The report further notes that the Indian and Pakistani governments work to resume regularized visa-regulated civilian travel across the Line of Control (LoC) and reunite separated families.

The APPKG report draws references from the reports on IoK by Chatham House,Amnesty International and Crisis Watch Group. It says the region remains heavily militarised, with draconian laws that provide legal cover for human rights violations by security officials in force, giving the Indian troops a blanket and widespread powers to search houses, arrest people without warrants, and detain suspects indefinitely.

“Though protests in Kashmir can be violent at times, the response of the security forces should always be proportionate. Lethal force should be the last resort, used only when lives are threatened.

"Promptly investigating allegations of abuses and prosecuting those responsible is key to resolving this 'mess'", it had said.

The report also notes: “Use of pellets Armed security personnel in J&K have rightly drawn condemnation for the use rubber and steel pellet-firing shotguns as a primary means of crowd dispersal, including to break up non-violent protests.

"Heartbreaking images of Kashmiri civilians disfigured as a result of injuries sustained by pellet fire – and in several dozen cases, permanently blinded – have come uniquely to emblematize the disregard for human life which too often characterizes policing tactics in J&K.

"Such pellet-firing weaponry is not just liable to disfigure its victims; it is also massively inaccurate.”

The APPKG delegation was allowed access to the crossing point at Chakothi at the LoC on the Azad Kashmir side, where the level of fortification and nature of the division was self-evident.

“We heard about the scale and resources behind the militarisation of both sides of the Line of Control, and the alleged one-soldier-per-12 population ratio of military personnel on the Indian-administered side.

The British lawmakers also visited a refugee camp at Thotha, near Muzzafarabad, and heard firsthand accounts from people whose families had been split apart.

“We heard from families, principally women and children, now in supported accommodation provided by the AJK Government, who have either fled or been displaced from the Indian administered areas," it notes.

"The delegation heard from four villagers living in the vicinity of the border, including from the son of a man killed in August 2018 by a mortar strike seemingly visited on their property at random; many witnesses testified to the arbitrariness of such attacks, such that their primary effect – and by design – is to maintain a climate of fear.

"The delegation also heard from a farmer who was the victim of a sniper attack, shot through the cheek and arm while tending to his land the previous month. These first-hand accounts were compelling and credible. They seemed to confirm that there are recent and ongoing Indian incidents affecting civilians across the LOC,” the report says.

The APPKG report has  proposed a number of recommendations to alleviate the sufferings of Kashmiris. It categorically says that the Government of India must repeal the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 and enable prosecution of armed forces and security personnel in the civilian judicial system,the Government of Jammu and Kashmir must urgently provide a strict and limited statutory basis for administrative detention powers, in line with international legal principles, by repealing or amending the Public Safety Act 1978.

The report also emphasizes that the Government of India should immediately ban the use of pellet firing shotguns,the Government of Jammu and Kashmir must open its prisons to international inspection,

The Governments of India and Pakistan should work to resume regularized visa-regulated civilian travel across the Line of Control and reunite separated families. 

It concludes: “In the meantime, we offer this report as our contribution to the debate on the need for human rights to respected, especially on the Indian-administered side.

"Far too many innocent lives have been lost already; far too many lives are blighted now. This is intolerable; it must end.”

Kashmir has recently witnessed a surge in the atrocities and human rights violation committed by Indian forces,in a cross border firing the helicopter of the Azad Kashmir Prime minister was also hit by Indian shelling which could've exacerbated the stand-off, if the helicopter wouldn't have escaped.The APPKG report may concomitantly dent India's position on Kashmir and give Pakistan a chance to resuscitate its Kashmir policy that has become a case of drollery and slapstick amid failures on the part of successive governments and redundant Kashmir committee.

  • Uk Parliament
  • All Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group
  • Kashmir
  • Indian occupied Kashmir
  • Indian atrocities
  • Human rights violation