NEW DELHI: India on Thursday reacted strongly to the first-ever UN human rights report on Kashmir, which calls for international inquiry into multiple violations in the region.
"India rejects the report. It is fallacious, tendentious and motivated. We question the intent in bringing out such a report," said an MEA spokesperson.
"It is a selective compilation of largely unverified information. It is overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative."
The 49-page report, the first ever issued by the UN on the human rights situation in Indian-Administered and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir, details human rights violations and abuses on both sides of the Line of Control, and highlights a situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces. But the main focus of the report is the human rights situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 - when large and unprecedented demonstrations erupted after Indian security forces killed 'the leader of an armed group' ( Burhan Wani) - to April 2018.
"The political dimensions of the dispute between India and Pakistan have long been centre-stage, but this is not a conflict frozen in time. It is a conflict that has robbed millions of their basic human rights, and continues to this day to inflict untold suffering," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, from Jordan.
"It is also why I will be urging the UN Human Rights Council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir," said Zeid.
"It is essential the Indian authorities take immediate and effective steps to avoid a repetition of the numerous examples of excessive use of force by security forces in Kashmir."
The report also examines a range of human rights violations in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir which, according to the report, are of "a different calibre or magnitude and of a more structural nature. In addition, the report says, restrictions on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and in Gilgit-Baltistan have limited the ability to obtain information about the situation."
The MEA, however, asserted that "the report violates India's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan is in illegal and forcible occupation of a part of the Indian state through aggression. We have repeatedly called upon Pakistan to vacate the occupied territories. The incorrect description of Indian territory in the report is mischievous, misleading and unacceptable. There are no entities such as "Azad Jammu and Kashmir" and "Gilgit-Baltistan."
Just before Zeid's appointment in June 2014, Foreign Policy magazine ran an article titled "The Scandal of Ambassador Zeid." Explaining "Why the new United Nations human rights advocate is the wrong man for the job," it expressed concern over "how Ambassador Zeid will treat what is arguably the most consequential human right: the right to freedom of expression.
Jordan's voting record on the highly divisive attempt to force UN states to criminalize the "defamation of religion" leaves a huge question mark about how aggressively Ambassador Zeid will defend free speech in the sphere of religion, where this right is constantly under attack at both the national and international level."
According to the MEA, "It is disturbing that those behind this report have chosen to describe internationally designated and UN-proscribed terrorist entities as "armed groups" and terrorists as "leaders".
This undermines the UN-led consensus on zero tolerance to terrorism. Our protest and views in the matter have been conveyed unequivocally to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
We are deeply concerned that individual prejudices are being allowed to undermine the credibility of a UN institution. Such malicious reports cannot undermine the will of the people and the Government of India to take all measures necessary to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country from cross-border terrorism."