UN Human Rights Chief Criticises Restrictions On Public Gatherings, Communications Blackouts In JK

SRINAGAR: UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Monday criticised the use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act across India as well as restrictions on public assembly and frequent communication blackouts in Jammu and Kashmir, reported Hindustan Times.

Michele Bachelet, the OHCHR Chief since late 2018

According to report, in her opening statement at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bachelet largely focused on the impact of the “triple planetary crises of climate change, pollution and nature loss” on human rights, but also raised what she described as a “number of specific and fast-moving situations”.

“Indian authorities’ restrictions on public assembly, and frequent temporary communication blackouts, continue in Jammu and Kashmir, while hundreds of people remain in detention for exercising their right to the freedom of expression, and journalists face ever-growing pressure,” Hindustan Times quoted the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as having said.

“Ongoing use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act throughout India is worrying, with Jammu and Kashmir having among the highest number of cases in the country,” she said.

While acknowledging the Indian government’s efforts to counter terrorism and promote development in Jammu and Kashmir, the report quoted Bachelet as having said “such restrictive measures can result in human rights violations and foster further tensions and discontent”.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials to Bachelet’s remarks. In the past, India has described such criticism as interference in the country’s internal matters based on an inadequate understanding of the ground situation, reported Hindustan Times.

Reacting to the statement, secretary (West) Reenat Sandhu of the external affairs ministry expressed India’s “disappointment over her unwarranted remarks on the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which do not reflect the ground reality”.

 

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