UN condemns India over worsening minorities’ rights in IOK

United Nations (UN) experts have condemned India over worsening and deteriorating situation of minorities’ rights in the disputed valley of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Fernand de Varennes – Special Rapporteur on minority issues has voiced ‘concerns’ over rapidly deteriorating situation of minorities’ rights in the disputed valley under illegal Indian occupation. Fernand de Varennes has highlighted the lack of minorities’’ participations in political and administrative affairs and matters due to discriminative governmental policies.

Furthermore, Ahmed Shaheed – Rapporteur on freedom of religion/belief, has also highlighted the lack of inclusive policies on governmental level against minorities.

The loss of autonomy and the imposition of direct rule by the Government in New Delhi suggest the people of Jammu and Kashmir as no longer have their own government and have lost power to legislate or amend laws in the region to ensure the protection of their rights as minorities, read the statement issue by the two UN officials.

UN Rapporteurs have highlighted the fact that successful applicants for domicile certificates largely comprise of individuals who are not IOJK residents and that this move on Indian government’s behalf raises ‘concerns’ regarding any possible demographic changes in linguistic, ethnical and religious domains.

New legislations neutralize the legal cover/protection provided to Muslims, Dogri, Gojri, Pahari, Sikh, Ladhaki and other minorities of the region by previous legal provisions and laws.

New laws will allow people from outside the valley to settle in the region which will have adverse effects on minorities’ rights and their ability to exercise those rights as well, warned the UN officials.

The development comes as India abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution back in August 2019 – the move revoked special autonomous status of the disputed valley. This step was followed by introduction of various other legal provisions by Indian government which are aimed at ‘artificially altering’ the region’s  demography with chances of turning Kashmir’s Muslim majority population into a minority.