THE UNITED Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday said the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam has caused “great uncertainty and anxiety”. She also expressed “deep concern” at the communication shutdown and detention of political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and urged the Indian government to ensure that human rights are respected and protected.
In her opening statement at the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bachelet said, “The recent National Register of Citizens verification process in the North-East Indian state of Assam has caused great uncertainty and anxiety, with some 1.9 million people excluded from the final list published on August 31. I appeal to the government to ensure due process during the appeals process, prevent deportation or detention, and ensure people are protected from statelessness.”
In relation to Kashmir, she said, “My office continues to receive reports on the human rights situation on both sides of the Line of Control. I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris, including restrictions on Internet communication and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists.”
“While I continue to urge the governments of India and Pakistan to ensure that human rights are respected and protected, I have appealed, particularly to India, to ease the current lockdowns or curfews; to ensure people’s access to basic services; and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained. It is important that the people of Kashmir are consulted and engaged in any decision-making processes that have an impact on their future,” she said.
This was Bachelet’s first comment on Kashmir, after the government revoked J&K’s special status. While there was no official response from New Delhi, India has sent a team of senior officials, including Indian envoy to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria, to frame the government’s response during the UNHRC deliberations as Pakistan is planning to raise the Kashmir issue.
While External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has contacted his counterparts in 45 member states (excluding Pakistan and India), Indian diplomats in various capitals and the Permanent Mission to UN have also been working overtime to lobby with the representatives of these countries.