India urged to allow fact-finding missions in Kashmir
India has turned Jammu and Kashmir into the "world's largest prison", according to the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), urging India to allow fact-finding missions to visit the disputed region.
The British government also put its weight behind the call, insisting that allegations of human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir must be "thoroughly, promptly and transparently" investigated.
In a statement released late Tuesday, the IPHRC, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) rights watchdog, said it was "appalled by the continuation of stifling inhuman security blockade/curfew and communication blackout imposed by Indian security forces since 5th August 2019 with no letting up in sight despite widespread international condemnation."
"The entire Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IoK) is turned into the world's largest prison with severe human rights and humanitarian repercussions on the innocent Kashmiri population," the statement said, adding that over 5,000 mostly young Kashmiris have been illegally detained by security forces while journalists and human rights activists are "being prosecuted on false charges."
"The continuation of mass human rights violations by the security forces with impunity under an exclusionary ideology of Hindutva reflects an obvious State bias, which has led to the issuance of genocide alerts by international human rights organizations," the commission said, citing U.S.-based Genocide Watch issuing an alert on Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug. 5, after India scrapped its special status, according to several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
India has blocked communication and imposed strict restrictions to thwart any rebellion, while political leaders in the region have been detained as rights groups repeatedly called on New Delhi to lift the restrictions and release political detainees.
However, Indian authorities have claimed 90% of the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir is free of daytime restrictions.
Expressing "grave concerns" over the situation in Kashmir, the commission said it supports the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' recommendation to establish a commission of inquiry under UN auspices to comprehensively investigate all the allegations of human rights violations.
The OIC commission urged the Indian government to grant access to the UN and OIC fact-finding missions to visit Jammu and Kashmir to independently and objectively ascertain the human rights situation on the ground.
Meanwhile, speaking in parliament on Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he had raised human rights concerns over Kashmir with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during a conversation on Aug. 7, the Press Trust of India reported.
"The U.K. will carefully monitor the situation in Kashmir," he told the House of Commons.
"All and any allegations of human rights violations are deeply concerning. They must be investigated thoroughly, promptly and transparently," Raab said.
British parliamentarians from across the political divide raised the Kashmir issue in the House of Commons, including demanding an end to the "blockade" in the state as well as independent observers being sent to the region.
"The issue of human rights is not just a bilateral issue for India or Pakistan or a domestic issue, it is an international issue we expect internationally recognized human rights to be complied with and respected," Raab said in reply to a question on Kashmir.
From 1954 until this Aug. 5, Jammu and Kashmir had special provisions under which it enacted its own laws. The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.