International probe into Kashmir violence crucial, says UN rights chief
UNITED NATIONS: Amid continuing unrest in Kashmir, the UN Human Rights chief has said it is crucial that an independent, impartial and international mission be given free access to Indian as well as Pakistan-administered Kashmir to assess the situation on both sides of the border.
"I believe an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two (Indian and Pakistani) sides," UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on Tuesday.
"We had previously received reports, and still continue to do so, claiming the Indian authorities had used force excessively against the civilian population under its administration. We furthermore received conflicting narratives from the two sides as to the cause for the confrontations and the reported large numbers of people killed and wounded," he said.
Al-Hussein told the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council that two months ago, he requested the Indian and Pakistani government to invite his teams to visit the Kashmir valley and Pakistan-administered Kashmir to assess the situation, but has yet to receive a response from New Delhi.
The Pakistani side on September 9 formally invited a UN human rights team to visit the Pakistani side, but in tandem with a mission to the Indian side, al-Hussein said.
"I have yet to receive a formal letter from the Government of India. I therefore request here and publicly, from the two Governments, access that is unconditional to both sides of the line of control," he added.
His remarks come as the Kashmir Valley has been on edge from past more than two months in which at least 85 people have been killed and over 11,500 injured in clashes with security forces.