UN Special Rapporteur’s Statement on G20, India Strongly Reacts to Commentary

SRINAGAR: India has strongly reacted to a United Nations Special Rapporteur commentary on India’s G20 Srinagar meeting, terming it “baseless and unwarranted”. The statement insisted that India, as G20 President, has the “prerogative to host its meetings in any part of the country.”

“We are aghast that @fernanddev has acted irresponsibly to politicize this issue, misused his position as SR to publicize on social media his presumptive and prejudiced conclusions in a gross violation of the Code of Conduct for SRs,” India’s Geneva Mission reacted to the statement made by Fernand de Varennes, statement. India said UN’s Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues acted “irresponsibly”.

Srinagar is hosting the G20’s Working Group on Tourism for three days starting May 22. The administration in Jammu and Kashmir is on tenterhooks to ensure an incident-free event. Right now, all the key roads are being re-laid and improved.

In anticipation of the event, Fernand de Varennes issued a statement insisting the violations of human rights had risen dramatically in the region since 2019 when Delhi read down Articles 370 and 35 A. “G20 is unwittingly providing a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy at a time when massive human rights violations, illegal and arbitrary arrests, political persecutions, restrictions and even suppression of free media and human rights defenders continue to escalate,” the statement said, insisting India is seeking to normalise things by “instrumentalising a G20 meeting and portray an international seal of approval.”

G20 is Group of Twenty, an intergovernmental forum, comprising 19 countries and the European Union (EU). It works to address major issues related to the global economy.

Fernand de Varennes said the international human rights obligations and the UN Declaration of Human Rights should still be upheld by organisations such as the G20.

This triggered a fierce reaction from India’s Geneva Mission which took to Twitter and slammed the Special Rapporteur. “We @IndiaUNGeneva strongly reject the statement issued by SR on minority issues @fernanddev & the baseless & unwarranted allegations in it,” it said.

Regional political parties have also reacted to the G20 meeting. While Dr Farooq Abdullah regretted that Jammu is being ignored and Kashmir is being made a focus of the G20 meetings, his son, Omar Abdullah termed it a “tamasha”.

“Things are a mess in Srinagar because of this G-20 tamasha. The actual meeting will probably see most areas locked down & people stuck in their homes,” Omar Abdullah tweeted. “Perhaps the BJP is being sensible sparing the people of Jammu the pain we are suffering here in the valley. The G20 has only punished the residents of Srinagar.”

“The tragedy is they (Centre) have avoided Jammu. Why is it only held in Ladakh? Why is it held in Kashmir? Why not Jammu?” Dr Farooq Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir’s five-time Chief Minister said. “I’m surprised not a single BJP leader of Jammu…is speaking about why the G20 did not occur in Jammu?”

Earlier, Mehbooba Mufti also reacted to the G20 happenings in Jammu and Kashmir. However, she took a different angle. “We don’t live close to Australia, America or Japan which are members of G20. We are living in this region and the SAARC caters to the problems of this region and if the government takes the initiative and has a summit of SAARC countries and addresses the problems that are being faced by this region including what is happening in Pakistan that will help India to be the leader in the region and the world,” Mehbooba was quoted saying. She asserted that for becoming a world leader, the road leads through SAARC and not G20.

Mehbooba also alleged that the G20 has been converted into a BJP event. “Even the logo has been replaced by a lotus,” she said, insisting it was a “good PR exercise for BJP at the international level but it is not going to make India the Vishwaguru.”

However, Bhartiya Janata Party leader Devender Singh Rana termed the G20 event in Kashmir as a unique opportunity to put Jammu and Kashmir on the global tourism landscape.

“Those opposing such an event in Kashmir and parroting Pakistan are actually the enemies of the nation and welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Rana. “Those raising questions over hosting of such an event in the Valley are not only suffering from the negativity syndrome but also insult Kashmir’s hospitality which is known the world over. He reiterated that such international events are destined to lay a very positive and healthy impact on trade and economy in this part of the country.”


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